Friday, October 30, 2009

Life Under the New Regime - 3

Nanga Fakir has probably run out of clever, meaningful, witty, smart, funny or even interesting things to say. So he planned to put out a last, final, somewhat maudlin, self indulgent, morosey post announcing the quiet demise of this space. Procrastination intervened however. And a little later, NF decided to not take himself seriously after all.

The adventures of the book junkie continue well - even in the face of deadlines, crises of all shapes and sizes and just plain old routine work. For keeping up with this rather unfriendly and reclusion-inducing habit, (which most of his old friends who shared the same passion for reading in their younger, halcyon years at S'kal (AK, Pandu, Ra, Subbu...) or perhaps even earlier at school (Somnath, Man...) have rather readily shed) Nanga Fakir would like to formally pat himself on the back.

<*pat, pat, pat*>

Reading continues to be a source of delight. NF's eyes have got keener, more discerning. His playlists continue to grow in quantity and quality, in the girth of the volumes and the width of the subject matter, in fiction and in non-fiction, in style and in substance. Technical details at the sentence and the word level, the idiosyncrasies of form and content, the art's heart's purpose - speak to NF in low, hushed voices, laying bare the mechanics of communication, fueling the communion (albeit one sided) of ideas. And the benefits are not merely theoretical/abstract0.

Recent Lit Adventures:

The Road: Lit giant Cormac McCarthy's unanimously celebrated Pulitzer grabbing post-apocalyptic saga hailed by some to be the most depressing book ever. NF loved the book and its ultra minimal style. But the most depressing book ever? No fucking way. Just a very good read. Nothing earth-shatteringly saddening.

Nausea: NF had tried to read this so-called Jean Paul Sartre existential masterpiece three times previously but had failed spectacularly at each try. Then he read some random remark by David Foster Wallace in one of his non-fiction pieces saying it's a work of genius, clenched his fists and ground his teeth in grim determination and forced himself to read it. Verdict? It's a damn fine book. Only too reader-unfriendly - like some early version of Linux dreamed up by a sadist geek. If you're patient enough and have nothing better to do, go through the much hailed novel. (Spoiler?) There is an Aha! moment at the end of the book. And a real one at that.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: No-one writes fiction quite the way David Foster Wallace does - as ecstatically, with as much self consciousness, with as much breathlessness, with as much black humor, with as much style. His incredible attention to detail - in descriptions as much as in the style of writing, just plain brilliant subject matter and the insistence of addressing the important, universal and grabbing-you-by-the-balls-and-demanding-an-immediate-answer-type questions have made a lifelong fan out of Nanga Fakir.

The Depressed Person, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men #2, Octet, Suicide as a Sort of Present and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men #4 are just plain gems of short stories. NF plans to read this book again. And again. And maybe again.

When Infinite Jest had come out, a lot of people had compared David Foster Wallace's style of writing as similar to Nabokov's. Naturally, once NF was converted, his hunter instincts led him to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. A hundred pages into the book, Nanga Fakir can totally dig why such claims of similarity were made. It manifests in the attention to detail, the delightful wordplay, the abso-fucking-lutely delectable prose and the location of humor in the most unlikely places. The way Nabokov bends and commands the English language and makes an abject slave out of it is simply jaw dropping. Read it to experience this feeling first hand. And on top of this, the transformation of the adventures of such a borderline pedophilic protagonist as Humbert Humbert into a hilarious comedy is a truly non trivial achievement for a belletrist of any order.

And so Nanga Fakir trudges on, slowly, patiently, painstakingly - reading for half an hour, one and sometimes on good, easy, relaxed days, two-three-four (or more!) hours. It's lucky to be taken up so much by some overarching, engrossing activity that holds your attention and trusses you up in a warm, glowing blanket of self sufficient happiness.


0. Quote-Unquote:

<*the first floor lobby History Honors Society's book sale. NF with two books in hand - The Best American Short Stories 1986 (Edited by Raymond Carver and featuring stars of the lit firmament like Donald Barthelme, Ann Beattie, David Lipsky, Alice Munro and Tobias Wolff) and Alice Mary Hilton's Logic, Computing Machines and Automation*>

NF: I heard that there's some buy one get one free offer or something?
The (presumably) History Grad Student: <*eyes NF fixedly*> To himself: Who bargains at a book-for-a-buck sale? (Ans: Indian.)
Aloud: Not really. You get one free if you answer a history trivia.
NF: Shoot.
The (presumably) History Grad Student: Where was Josef Stalin born?
NF: <*sports a big grin*>
The (presumably) History Grad Student: <*notices the grin. grins back*>
NF: It's a rather trivial question.
The (presumably) History Grad Student: You think so? The answer might be tricky.
NF: He was born in Georgia.
The (presumably) History Grad Student: Whoa man! You're good.
NF: Can I answer another one and have both of them for free?
The (presumably) History Grad Student: No. You can't.


shadows said...

everytime i read one of you "recent reads" blog... i feel quite disgusted with myself, asking myself time and again.. " why i have not been utilising my break from life to read?" what pisses me off even more is, that i dont have the money to start reading...
sigh... when i do have a job (therefore, the money) i wont have the time...
and excuses go on

Nanga Fakir said...

@Shadows: has never been NF's intention to cause friends to wallow in self disgust.

However, it must be added (with characteristic immodesty, one might say) that hanging around great men like Nanga Fakir can cause self hatred even among the finest of people.

So don't take it to heart!

clueless rebel said...

@shadows- seriousl;y ;dun ;loose heart.. with my first salary i scooted off to blossoms. yeah u dun have the time .. but if u are clever enough u can go on reading in your office time too..
p.s.- dun read mr. diwedi's blog too much ..its true its detrimental for ur health.

@NF- stop being so full of ur self!!!

Arvind Krishna said...

I agree with NF. He has this rare talent of making people wallow in self-loathing. I wonder how he manages to not get sucked into his own vortex.

Nanga Fakir said...

@AK: Ah he totally does my boy! Just that you don't notice it often enough.