The seriousness of our May session was interrupted by Srishti’s return to Good Omens. She takes her time with her books. “The baby swapping I told you about finally happened,” she said,” and it was all because of the chattering nuns.” Good Omens is a world where there are points for everything that happens and in the town where nothing happens, both sides claimed points.
Another book she is reading is Birthday Stories, a collection of stories compiled by Haruki Murakami. I am a die-hard Murakami buff, so I understood what Srishti was talking about when she narrated a vintage Murakami story she had once read about a woman who turned insomniac. “The author has added one of his stories to this collection and that’s what I rushed to read first. It’s about a part time waitress who celebrates her twentieth birthday. It’s so engrossing and surreal, and I’m still thinking Dang! What really happened?”
Abhaya started with a Hindi book called Ek Gaddhe ki Aatmakatha (The Autobiography of a Donkey) by Krishnan Chander, a surrealist book where a donkey plays protagonist and navigates his way through a corrupt bureaucracy. “If you know about the 70’s and 80’s, you’ll find this a tad boring after a while.”
Another book that proved disappointing was Phosphorus and Stone by Susan Vishwanathan. “The first part of the book was dreamy and abstract and suddenly towards the end, it was realistic, almost as though the author wanted to finish her story. There were some biblical references I may not have understood—the title itself is not clear to me.”
Being a regular reader means that you come across many coincidences. Abhaya observed how he had read three books Wild Sargasso Sea, Anatomy of a Disappearance and now Phosphorus and Stone where the common thread was a mother with a long term mental illness.
“Have you heard of Logicomix?” Abhaya asked us.
To a dim silence, he said, “Well Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession by Apostolos Doxiadis doesn’t make the cut the way his other book did. “
“The comic book fraternity was not frothing at the mouth with excitement that mathematics and comics could make a good combination, but Logicomix worked for me. Uncle Petros is different. It’s about how mathematics can take you to the edge and how not being able to solve the GoldBach’s Conjecture drove a scientist insane.”
Abhaya is now reading the very interesting book How the Universe got its spots by Janna Levin. “It’s a series of letters that the writer has written to her mother (the mother connection again?) and she touches on every theme possible from the scientific to the sentimental.”
Another book I had read besides The Search Warrant was a book called Ignorance by Milan Kundera. I’ve always been apprehensive of reading Kundera as his aura as a writer and a thinker is great and you wonder if you can do justice to his work as a reader.
However, Ignorance is a book I understood. Perhaps it made sense to read about the experience of someone who was away from the home country. Irene has returned to her hometown. She left her country when there was strife and when she returned, she felt a bit of the traitor as the others stayed when she didn’t. Josef too left his country and found a home elsewhere. Mythically speaking, when Odysseus returned home to Ithaca,he felt more lost in Ithaca than on his travels. The journey can never come full circle. Even memory, the home of your identity, betrays.
What have you been reading?