Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Road (Part Two)

Being bookless while traveling can be a harrowing experience. A real nightmare. Totally.

A walking distance away (which for NF is anything within a one/two mile radius) from his place in Evanston was Barnes and Noble. It is common knowledge among those who know him that Nanga Fakir is drawn to bookstores as pigs are drawn to feces. The analogy extends even further. Both NF and the pigs then like to drown themselves uninhibitedly into the arms of their objects of desire, squeaking with delight and producing the legendary "Oink, Oink" sound.

And so it was that a pig named Nanga Fakir was let loose in a cultured, sophisticated and well mannered reading establishment.

He wanted to treat himself to a good book. It became even more important because he'd forgotten about his own birthday a few days ago. And so he began his search, sifting through the pile of books that lay in a sort of majestic arrogance in front of him.

There were (are) many books on his list. Michael Chabon has been one of the writers on the list for quite some time now (especially his books The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Yiddish Policeman's Union). Also on the list has been Thomas Pynchon and his magnum opus Gravity's Rainbow (legend (perhaps apocryphal) has it that Pynchon wrote the first draft of this book on an engineering blueprint after his application for graduate work in Mathematics was rejected by UC Berkeley). Truman Capote, Cormac McCarthy, William Gibson's Spook Country and Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (which came with very high recommendations from AK) were also given serious consideration.

The list also consisted of other giants whose names NF drops casually in mundane day-to-day conversations (unfortunately) to people with no lit propensities thereby making a fool of himself with appreciable frequency.

The book he finally settled on however, was David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. The writer had come to his notice when the lit establishment was shaken by his suicide last year. Apparently the writer was afflicted with a particularly severe form of unipolar depression for a long time. However, the thing that intrigued NF most was the obvious awe with which lit giants wrote his obituary. Plus the description of Infinite Jest as a massive work on multiple, disparate themes set in the future with an underlying bizarre sense of humor that accompanies the narrative, decided the question. Currently however, Nanga Fakir is struggling with the difficult to read thousand plus page tome at the rate of twenty odd pages an hour.

Difficult books can sometimes end up a lot of fun he thinks (think of difficult children sometimes turning out to be brilliant adults or Kurosawa's boring period pieces turning out to be thought provoking experiences after a never ending couple of hours). The examples of Neuromancer and War and Peace come straight to mind. That is why Nanga Fakir hasn't given up on fat works and intends to complete Gravity's Rainbow and Dhalgren someday.

The sly dog NF also managed to filch the Pulitzer prize winner Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and India: A Million Mutinies Now by V S Naipaul from his brother's rather modest book collection.

Being so heavily loaded on books, one might think Nanga Fakir decided to call it a day.

"Not really", he says.

...

To be followed by Part Three.

9 comments:

SatyaVrat said...

'Guns, Germs, and Steel' is already in my read-soon-or-commit-suicide list :-D

Nanga Fakir said...

Awesome book boss...totally worth it!

Ashutosh said...

Thanks for provinding such good lit info :)_

Nanga Fakir said...

"He he he" (read quiet, repressed chuckle)..."At your service".

Wanda said...

Myopic books in Wicker Park might be of interest to you.

Nanga Fakir said...

Will keep that in mind...

Bejin Hakumei said...

Game Theory is feeling lonely.

karatalaamalaka said...

Guns, Germs and Steel is some good stuff. But don't you think Jared Diamond is oversimplifying the study of history? I think Jared Diamond tries to find very, very simple models for systems that are extremely complex. I think he relies a lot on anecdotal evidence to prove his arguments. It is a nice story of mankind from Dr. Diamond's perspective. Pretty convincing stuff, too! However, we shouldn't make the mistake of looking at it as an academic text. I don't think it is the kind of treatise on history that would pass academic peer review. Don't you think there were many "correlation implies causality" leap of faiths in his book?

Then, my patriotism biases my opinion, as he makes *few* references India. A good sixth of mankind ignored in a study of humanity. Why? I wonder if it is the (rather large) set of data points that are consciously discarded for not fitting your theory!

Nanga Fakir said...

@Shatry: Very valid points. But the main reason I think the book is brilliant is because it's a step in the correct direction - that 'positive feedback loops' are perhaps the correct philosophical contraptions with which to dissect the problem and a more global/holistic approach will necessarily have to accommodate such constructs.

It is therefore, I think it deserves the prizes heaped upon it - for the novel philosophical approach.