Postscript in Pink

Or An Afterthought in Amber.

Or Revelations in Red.

I’ve been seeing so many such titles at the Jack Langson Library [At the university, all places have names associated with them – John Croul Hall, Aldrich Park, Donald Bren Hall, Paul Merage School of Business… and most of these people are wealthy donors ] – all American ones. So much that I want to write one like that. It shall have tales of intrigue, death, violent romance and some very lurid images on the cover. Which shall all be in the title colour – pink or amber… but for red, it’ll have to be bloodied letters on a black background.

I’ve begun reading one such book now. It’s Indian English writing, though. It’s called The Pangolin’s Tale. It’s about misfits in society or some such. It promises to be an exercise in practiced, controlled, subdued cynicism and intense self-revelation. Wish me luck in getting through it without shouting ‘WHAT’ every few pages.

The writing seems bad… too much overload of information in the first few pages. It seems even worse than “Renowned author Dan Brown staggered through his formulaic opening sentence”, as Prof Pullum put it.

Last week, I read A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Md. Hanif. It’s a rather endearing read, I strongly recommend it. The language, the narration are all so good that you even begin to identify and/or sympathize with the rather sadistic under-officer Ali Shigri, but the plotline… oh man, give me a break! The author tries to do a Rushdie… y’know, the whole “I was witness to the whole history unfolding… I even took part in it. Though of course, by a quirk of fate, or planning, or both, history doesn’t record me in the story”. It was great in Midnight’s Children, it was okayish in The Moor’s Last Sigh. Ground Beneath Her Feet was seriously unreadable. I think that sort of plotline has been done to death, and if I read another book like that, I’ll write a blogpost from the future about how the author died in an aircrash/fire/car accident/suicide attempt and I was somehow responsible for it in my own small way.

I’m wondering what book to borrow next. The library is rich in All-American reads. Not so much chicklit. Any suggestions?

Oh, and the postscript in pink…. here it comes. All reflective, long-winded and meaningless.

When all the songs in your playlist start making sense to you in some weird, long-winded way, it’s time to begin worrying. People are fickle. Natural, considering that our minds are all work in progress. No one really says what they really mean. And you can’t fault them for it – they themselves don’t quite know what they mean. And you wonder whether it is okay to be curt right at the outset, and cause some unpleasantness which will resolve itself with time, or hope that things change as often as people’s minds, and try putting up with it, or sending subtle signals, or, trying to communicate your feelings through ESP and hoping that the person will be receptive enough atleast through that channel… in other words, not really trying to resolve matters, and getting so used to being in unpleasantness that anything else seems out of your comfort zone.

And the Afterthought in Amber:

Everything happens for a reason. When you go through adversity, you curse your circumstances, your environment, and most of all, yourself. What you realize when it’s all over is, it gives you strength to soldier on in pursuit of greener pastures. It makes your happy times even more happier, now that you know how lucky you are in having good times. There’s a constant amount of discontent anyone has at any given time, and it’s better wasted on real difficulties than on something you make up just to feed that part of you which feels discontent.

The Revelation in Red:

You can get used to anything. Even killing.

Wow, three random titles and I come up with stuff on the fly. Heck, I should write a novel sometime, Indian Diaspora Writer ishtyle. It seems so darned easy.

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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13 Responses to Postscript in Pink

  1. Malaveeka says:

    Super post.

    ‘It promises to be an exercise in practiced, controlled, subdued cynicism and intense self-revelation.’

    Loved this line.

    You sound
    1. Happy.
    2. Slightly American.

    Are you?

    • wanderlust says:

      1. yes, though it’s wearing off with the humdrum of everyday life.
      2. ew. no. though… the overpoliteness is rubbing off on me and i end every damn conversation with ‘have a nice day’. i was trying to use big-big words because that’s what the authors i’ve been reading lately have been doing. especially the pangolin lady.
      i have a feeling you might like The Pangolin’s Tale.

  2. American fiction – the best are Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Must read. 🙂

  3. Shreevatsa says:

    All buildings and rooms in MIT are referred to by numbers. Even the most major room or auditorium is known only by its number, like “10-250” or “26-100”. Administrators have attempted, from time to time, to give names (of donors) to buildings, but the names are studiously ignored. (Except by the occasional new student, who has to be corrected.) It’s not that the numbers are ideal: building 32 is next to building 57, and far across campus from building 33 which is next to 17.

    but the plotline… oh man, give me a break! The author tries to do a Rushdie… y’know, the whole “I was witness to the whole history unfolding…” [..] I think that sort of plotline has been done to death, and if I read another book like that, I’ll [scary threat]
    You’re overreacting. It’s not a plot, just a simple plot device. Every fantasy embeds the protagonist in some event of great importance; it’s only natural that refashioning actual history for this purpose is convenient. Salman Rushdie wasn’t the first to use it, nor will this book you read be the last. Just because you’ve come to realise that it isn’t as awesome as you found it the first time doesn’t mean it’s gone out of style. 😛

    • wanderlust says:

      I don’t agree that’s generic enough to be classified a plot device.
      okay, let me make that plotline more specific: i watched the subcontinent’s biggest events unfold. the details are rather lurid, actually. and funny when told in my cynical tone. the subcontinent’s biggest people are fools, and my story proves it. they are unmistakeably cruel, too. by some tiny act of mine, i (un)knowingly affected the course of history in a big, big way… you’ve heard of the butterfly effect, haven’t you. But this tiny act of mine has never been recorded at all… and this book is the only place you’ll read the truth, because all other witnesses to this tale have been comfortably eliminated.

      • Shreevatsa says:

        Seems the similarity is of theme and style, then. There are significantly many works in the genres of: characters transposed into historical events (the Iliad or the Mahabharata may be doing this), “Secret History”, Conspiracy Fiction, works which tidy up loose ends, stories set in the “subcontinent”, works written in the first person. Is the intersection of all these what’s bothering you? 🙂

        (Aside: the idea that individual human actions can have great effects is a fairly obvious and ancient one (For Want of a Nail…); I’m tired of hearing it called the ‘butterfly effect’. :p)

      • wanderlust says:

        It’s not just the intersection of all these things that bothers me. It’s that this intersection happens again and again and yet again is what bothers me. frankly, mohammed hanif reads like rushdie minus magic realism. and all of rushdie’s works are all the same sort of thing, save the fact that they are set in different locations.

  4. Arjun says:

    Quirk of fate. I’m read the Hanif book as well. Bought it while I was waiting to submit my visa documents (marathon 9 hour wait) and couldn’t put it down even after the bastards called my number. You’re right, the style is very captivating.

    “all of rushdie’s works are all the same sort of thing, save the fact that they are set in different locations.”
    This sounds like “House.” All of the episodes are the exact same thing, with just the disease changing. However, it’s Hugh Laurie, so I watch.

  5. Varun says:

    Since you’ve talked about Rushdie, i’d suggest “haroun and the sea of stories”!

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