Sunday, January 4, 2009

My New Year non-resolutions

You'll notice that I didn't do any list like "My best books in 2008". Not that I didn't think about it, but I found my memory blocked. Did not I read any important book last year? Yes, of course - Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown,and Donigan Merritt's
Possessed by Shadows, for example, but not many. I had read some stories by Clezio and Bolano desultorily, mainly from the web. In retrospect, I bought far fewer books last year.

Now I reckon that the web has changed my reading habits without my knowing it. In stead of lengthy works, I now find myself reading shorter pieces mostly on the web. There's little time for buying books from the bookstore. And library is something I've lost contact with since a long time ago. Another thing, I've read much more about writers than their works. This is bad enough.

As ever I'm obsessed with real writers. In my scheme of things, I have no space for fake or fashionable writers. So why did I post pieces on Chetan Bhagat or Sobhaa De? Actually, I had read them to see for myself what crap they are dishing out to capture the attention of today's readers. Admittedly, they have some popularity among a section of scatterbrains and shallow raders(One of Bhagat's fans recently sent me an e-mail querying about Bhagat's best 'nobel'). Don't get surprised if you see me posting occasional pieces on them. The fact is, I hate the fashionable writers, and always have an issue with them. Why? Because they are cornering the real writers, taking advantage of our shallow and superficial times. They are invading the space of what real writers should have.

One of my objectives, as a writing geek, is to introduce my readers to real writers and real writing so that they can have a taste of literature. Literature is not passe, as many people think, and needs to be cultivated more in these times for preserving our sanity. A piece of real writing says much more - in terms of substance and value -than any of your audio-visual work today. As Le Clezio said in his Nobel lecture,"Literature—and this is what I have been driving at—is not some archaic relic that ought, logically, to be replaced by the audiovisual arts, the cinema in particular. Literature is a complex, difficult path, but I hold it to be even more vital today than in the time of Byron or Victor Hugo.”

This year I want to do some serious reading. Roberto Balano tops my TBR list. Another writer I'm yearning for these days is Hassan Azizul Haque. Hassan is a real Bengali writer based in Bangladesh, and short stories are his main forte. He has a novel published recently, and it has created a buzz. Hassan took a decade's time to pen this novel. I'm going to buy and read this novel soon.


Anonymous said...

In the same sentence with Salman Rushdie... what an honor!

Mrinal Bose said...

You deserved it, Don.

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