Thursday, April 28, 2005

Obvious Method #34 for showing off [A.K.A The Book Survey Meme]

Finally, I put together the answers for the survey which Ramanand filled up and then passed on to me. The gestation period was long and terrible. Almost all the answers here have changed several times during this course, and I'll try to put in the older answers as well (up to reasonable limits of course).

1. You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451! which book do you want to be?

It's been a while since I read F-451. But from what I remember of that plot, I'm supposed to choose a book that I feel is worth preserving, worth being handed down to future generations, worth being saved from the 'Firemen'. This was, frankly, the easiest question in this set to answer.

I want to save the 'Purush Stotram' and the 'Kenopanishad'. This is not a 'Miss World' type answer - I've actually read Chinmayanandji's commentaries of these books, and probably would want to 'be' the commentaries as well. Both are thankfully short hymns/books, and these two books, put together, have been the ones that influenced and supported me in troubled times. I've tried to take the funda from them as a starting point and logically explain my world-view in a little blog, in case anyone's interested.

Not the answer anyone was expecting, I know. :)

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Boy, have I ever!

Hi-fi Answer:
Once you think about it, every crush I've had was on a fictional character, especially when I was enamoured of a real person. The perception I had of the real-life crush's character was created within my own mind. It was this fictional perception I had the crush on. It probably had nothing to do with her real nature.

Miss World Answer:
Mina Harker, from Dracula. [Personally, I detest that female. She's supposed to be goody-two-shoes, inspirational, feminine-yet-strong, etc. But her so-called inspirational speeches turn my stomach. Read the original Dracula to see what I mean.]

The Answer(s) the world has been waiting to hear:

(i) I second JR's answer : Betty, from Archie Comics. They must not be drawing Veronica correctly - she's gotta be much more attractive than she looks if Archie's so taken with her, instead of Betty.

(ii) The first answer that jumped into my mind : Kamla, from Ruskin Bond's A Love of Long Ago. This is one of my favourite stories of his. A relevant excerpt:

She was always on the move – flitting about on the veranda, running errands of no consequence, dancing on the steps, singing on the rooftop as she hung out the family washing. Only once was she still. That was when we met on the steps in the dark and I stole a kiss, a sweet phantom kiss. She was very still then, very close, a butterfly drawing out nectar, and then she broke away from me and ran away laughing.

(iii) Phoebe Pyncheon, from The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Wonderful, cheerful, pretty, the life of the dreary Pyncheon House. Who could not fall in love with her?

Somebody, at all events, was passing from the farthest interior of the omnibus towards its entrance. A gentleman alighted; but it was only to offer his hand to a young girl whose slender figure, nowise needing such assistance, now lightly descended the steps, and made an airy little jump from the final one to the sidewalk. She rewarded her cavalier with a smile, the cheery glow of which was seen reflected on his own face as he reentered the vehicle. The girl then turned towards the House of the Seven Gables, to the door of which, meanwhile,--not the shop-door, but the antique portal,--the omnibus-man had carried a light trunk and a bandbox.

...The young girl, so fresh, so unconventional, and yet so orderly and obedient to common rules, as you at once recognized her to be, was widely in contrast, at that moment, with everything about her. The sordid and ugly luxuriance of gigantic weeds that grew in the angle of the house, and the heavy projection that overshadowed her, and the time-worn framework of the door,--none of these things belonged to her sphere. But, even as a ray of sunshine, fall into what dismal place it may, instantaneously creates for itself a propriety in being there, so did it seem altogether fit that the girl should be standing at the threshold.

(iv) Anna Quentin, from Under the Net by Iris Murdoch. I was so inspired by a chapter in this book that I wrote a copycat story in the Pawar Guest House series. Excerpt from the original chapter:

There was no doubt that it was Anna. As I looked at her, her face seemed suddenly seemed radiant, like a saint’s face in a picture, and all the surrounding faces were darkened. I could not imagine why I had not seen her at once. For a moment I stared, paralyzed; then I began to try to fight my way out. But it was absolutely impossible. ...There was nothing for it but to wait for the end of the fireworks. I pressed my hand against my heart, which was trying to start out of me with its beating, and I riveted my eyes upon Anna.

... Anna was finding it quite hard to pick her way down. She paused halfway and, with an unutterably graceful and characteristic gesture which I remembered well, gathered her skirt from behind and continued her descent.

(v) Sanjana Kapoor's character, from Hero Hiralal. I forgot her characters name from the movie, but I was so taken by that movie that I went around in a daze for a week. This is back when I was in school.

(vi) Winnie Cooper, from The Wonder Years. I know, I know. But I too was a kid when I started watching WY.

The last four entries here show up a suspicious characteristic : I tend to fall in love with females who are describing adoringly by the medium/narrator. But then, how else to make them desirable to the reader?

3. The last book you bought is:

This answer has changed like crazy over the past two weeks since I was passed the baton. Some of my past answers, in reverse chronological order:

As of Today afternoon :
- The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
- All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren
- A Deadly Shade of Gold, by John MacDonald
- Arrowsmith, by Sinclair Lewis
- A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

As of Tuesday Afternoon :
- After the Fall, by Arthur Miller
A casual glance through the pages yields a wonderful quote. The narrator says: "I do not know how to blame with confidence."

As of Saturday Afternoon :
- A Man Lay Dead, by Ngaio Marsh [Strictly speaking, purchased for a cousin]
- Faster, by James Gleick
- Stories, by Doris Lessing
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

As of last Saturday :
- In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
- An Instance of the Fingerpost, by Iain Pears
- The Postman, by David Brin
- Under the Net, by Iris Murdoch

Let me clarify that this crazy influx is because of an excellent book exhibition going on in Pune (At Mahatma Phule Museum, for those interested) which is going to end on Sunday. I don't usually buy at this speed. (Yeah, right!)

4. The last book you read:

Again, this field has been changing rapidly in the last two weeks.

As of yesterday morning :
- A Man Lay Dead, by Ngaio Marsh. Not recommended as an introduction to this writer. It was her first book, and the Agatha Christie influence is apparent. The murder even takes place at a weekend party, during a game called 'Murders'!

As of Monday :
- Swami and friends by R.K.Narayan. There's nothing I can add here for this one :)

As of Friday :
- The Day of the Locust, by Nathanael West : I was not overly impressed.

As of last Wednesday :
- In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote : Ok-ok. But one can make out that Capote would be brilliant as a fiction writer.

5. What are you currently reading?

- Stories, by Doris Lessing. This is a collection of her (non-Africa-related) stories. The three that I've read so far were good. Recommended reading for anyone who liked The Golden Notebook. For some odd reason, this collection is out of print.

- The Act of Creation, by Arthur Koestler. Amazing study of how creativity works. Take a look at the interesting division of creativity he describes on the first page - It's on the Amazon site. Just a few chapters into this and already I've bored three people with the ideas I got from it. :)

6. Five books you would take to a deserted island:

- Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon. Dense, dense, wonderfully dense book. The prose is poetry, the language is amazing. And, I haven't finished it yet - Couldn't handle it at the time. This is the only book that has defeated me by its dense prose - will have another go once I'm there.

- The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. I know there isn't any such book yet, but I'm sure there will be by the time I start preparing for this island.

- The Bhagavad Gita, I guess. The message it has requires a lifetime to understand and incorporate. Thousands of satisfied readers over the ages can't be wrong ;).

- The CMM Implementation manuals. Because I'll need lots of useless paper for starting up bonfires, for -er- personal hygiene, and other such purposes. This requires paper that I have absolutely no guilt about trashing. So I guess this doesn't actually count here.

- One or two of the following, depending on the mood : One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, On the Road, 1984, Pale Fire.

- The Stories of Ray Bradbury. Something that takes away loneliness, that leaves you admiring it's language and fluidity, that can be read and reread any number of times.

As an aside : I once was actually stuck on a desert island with 4 books. Metaphorically of course. In my first year of college, I had exactly four non-CS books on my shelf, which I read and reread until I almost had them by heart. These were Ringworld, by Larry Niven, 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King, The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

7. Who are you going to pass this stick to and why?

There are very few acquaintances left on the blogosphere who haven't already answered this questionnaire. This is as much a result of the meme being popular as of my acquaintances being sparse. Still, doing the best I can.

- Srihari: I have no doubt this is going to have him thinking in a totally alien direction. Go for it, Hari! :)

- Aditya Singh: Ditto. Ady Singh, time to flex new muscles!

- Dinker: Although he hasn't a blog per se, he puts up plenty of writing on his own website. Chal beta Dinker, shuru ho jaa.

- And that is it. I am ashamed to say, this section is the least populated of all the questions here. I have more fictional *crushes* than I have real *acquaintances*!

[Update #1] Dinker is currently relocating to India - so it'll be a long time before we see his entry.

[Update #2] I've found another guinea pi... er.. FRIEND, I meant FRIEND, who has a blog and is interested in filling out this survey. Please welcome : Rohinton Daruwala, my old friend and new blogger, who trawls the net extensively for interesting online fantasy fiction and who will list the good stuff on his blog.


The paranoid android said...

not Jennifer from love story?

Sudarshan said...

Certainly, she'd be an interesting candidate - I hereby give you permission to add her to the list of *your* fictional crushes. :)

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