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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Crossword Reading

Fellow bloggers ought to be supported. Which is why one found oneself in Crossword on Friday evening at the launch of Samit Basu's The Manticore's Secret, part of a respectable crowd of close to 50 people. The programme featured a reading from the book, as well as a discussion with Sonia Faleiro, whose The Girl has just been published as well.

Slipping into a plastic chair in a corner of the second-last row, one beheld the two with a certain degree of wonder: the self-assurance, the poise! (Ah, youth.) This effectively put paid to any thoughts of going up and introducing myself, and with that out of the way one listened to a cringe-making introduction by a rather-too-effusive moderator, thankfully followed by Basu's fluent reading of a passage from the book.

What was remarkable was the following that his earlier book seems to have generated: people confessed to reading it three, four times, and there was at least one young lady in the row ahead whose eyes were fixed devotedly on the author throughout. The questions that followed ranged from the predictable-yet-interesting ("your influences, your favourites") to the exasperating ( the whole "Indian writing in English" bit) to the obnoxious ("Why do women writers always write depressing books?"). All handled with a degree of self-deprecation and panache by the duo.

Regrettably, one hasn't read either of Basu's books yet, a failing that will be rectified soon. However, one picked up a copy of The Girl from Danai, Khar, and finished it late last night. It's deceptively slim, managing to compress a lot of feeling into its 120-odd pages. That a great deal of attention has been paid to the quality of writing is evident from the first few pages itself. The story is a simple one of abandonment and despair, but narrated with a structural craft that renders it complex. It's certainly worth reading, resonating in memory after it's finished, although -- forgive me, Sonia -- one felt that the prose at times was too adjective-laden, and the tone between different points of view could have done with some variation. (But then, this is just the opinion of an old has-been.)

6 Comments:

  • Prufrock, you were there, and never came up to us? Now that's unforgivable! :)

    I was hoping to meet some bloggers ... The Zig came, but had his eyes shut throughout. (He was concentrating, he says.)

    Thank you for buying the book, and for reading it. I appreciate your feedback hugely, as you well know.

    By Blogger Sonia Faleiro, at 2:00 PM  

  • thanks for coming. wish youd said hi, though. was looking forward to meeting you.

    By Blogger samit, at 4:04 PM  

  • Oh, well. Next time...

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 4:12 PM  

  • Points of resonance - first, the Duck's slew of adoring female fans (which I posted about on my 'other' blog, without an iota of exaggeration; please do read!)

    Second, the poise of youth. Quite amazing.

    Your earlier post about the Hick at Hahvahd - that 'prepos-terous' tale has long been one of my favourite anecdotes.

    And in passing, Samit is usually great company (I'm sure that applies to Sonia F. too, but I've never interacted with her). Your not meeting up must have been a lose-lose situation.

    J.A.P.

    By Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock, at 11:35 AM  

  • Which do you think was better Simoquin or manticore?

    By Blogger Pip Squeak, at 7:14 PM  

  • Will let you know the moment I read them :)

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 2:28 PM  

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