Monthly Archives: December 2010

Call me Ishmael…

Am in literary heaven. Have also realized the awesomeness that is being gifted a gift-card. Am also feeling great respect for my cousin Roshan’s gift-giving skills- will be eternally grateful to him.

Roommate once said that the reason she read Gabriel Garcia Marquez was because the language was such that you could get lost in it. I never got the point of that, especially with reference to Marquez. As far as I could see, if I didn’t enjoy the story, the book fell flat. I adhere to that, but now I do know what she meant.

Melville. Herman Melville has language that enchants me. The only explanation I can think of is that it is genuine in its genius. It has all the trappings of language I hate – complicated sentences; words I have to refer the dictionary for; and a certain degree of other-worldliness, something that seems to cancel out any sort of colloquialism. But Melville’s language does not seem forced- not even a bit. This may not be the case, but the sentences have a flow to them that I can’t help but think that he wrote them as he thought them. That somehow, he was one of those gifted few who not only spoke enchantingly, but THOUGHT enchantingly.

Admittedly, quoting Rory Gilmore “I know it’s kind of cliche to pick Moby Dick as your first Melville.” But what was I supposed to do – pick up a lesser novel for the limited amount left in the Gift card (owing to my enthusiasm. I wonder if they arrange the bookshops like they do the casinos – let all the aisles lead to a tempting piece of literature, have beautiful people around serving you free stuff – they did have perfume spritzers in the bookshop, – filling the air with music and chemicals that both relax and excite you so you keep buying even though you may run out…. I didn’t mind)?

Other books I picked up – Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett, Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop, Anne Bronte’s The Tenant At Wildfell Hall, A leather bound copy of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (for 60 fucking bucks!), and Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. Anyone reading this may feel free to give opinions, comments, praise, criticism regarding all of the above.

There’s something magical about reading those first lines of a book. There’s something magical about books in general. The fact that knowledge, experience, beauty, pain, suffering, love, and anything at all in the world is somehow written and bound into something. That I, lying in my bed, can experience if not the actual substance of someone else’s experiences, then at least a faithful shadow of it, is an empowering thought.

And when I pick up something like Moby Dick, or The Scarlet Letter or Sophie’s Choice (finished that a few days ago- it was everything an more. That came as a surprise since I’m used to being disappointed in heavily accoladed books), I bask in the idea that I’m becoming part, not only of the experience, the skill, the genius of the author and the story that is told; but of a tradition, that of reading and knowing something that is held precious and sacred among all those who have read it previously, and all those who are going to read it. Can you blame me for feeling a thrill when I can talk bout a book, and everything I love about it with someone who has also read it? It’s like I said about certain films – The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, Sholay, Casablanca – you can love it, like it, or hate it, but you HAVE to watch it in order to BE.

Call me romantic, but I seriously believe that everything important in the world can be learnt if you read enough good books, and watch enough good movies.

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep reading like I am now, seeing as how college is going to start soon, but I’m glad for writing this. And yes, I purposely, and perhaps pompously, chose to use poetic (prosaic?) license and use wrong-ish grammar there.

Wish me luck reading,