Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eleven Minutes

Book title: Eleven Minutes
Author: Paulo Coelho

Publ: Harper Torch
ISBN: 0-06-072675-X

In 2002, the author Paulo Coelho met an old gentleman in his seventies with his wife and granddaughter at the Grotto in Lourdes, in France. The man embraced him and told about the importance of his books in his life. They made him dream. The words frightened the author because he knew that his upcoming novel Eleven Minutes dealt with a subject that was harsh, difficult, shocking. But however, Coelho has dedicated this novel Eleven Minutes to that old gentleman, Maurice Gravelines with these words:

"I have a duty to you, your wife and grand-daughter and to myself to talk about the things that concern me and not only about what everyone would like to hear. Some books make us dream, others bring us face to face with reality, but what matters most to the author is the honesty with which a book is written."

And now, after finishing reading this book, I'm convinced he has kept his word. He has indeed been totally honest in the process of writing this book.

He sets his protagonist Maria on the hard journey that ultimately helps her in discovering, and those among us who have not yet recognised recognise, the sacredness in what is known as 'sex' and to ponder on why it must always invariably be profane, taboo. This book is about desire, freedom, love, sex..

The author has littered (to my utmost delight:) ) all over the book with lines I would simply love to quote in as many places as possible. As one of my old for-a-short-while friends cum compulsive quote freak (like me :p) Bassem Sabry who used to write in Teenstuff says, quotations are nothing but our own views put in words by others in a far better and more beautiful way. Yeah, I am amazed how totally in tune I had been with the author throughout the book!

I don't think anyone can write a book as this in a subtler way. It's so fully pregnant with poetry. See how he starts the book:

"Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria. Wait a minute. 'Once upon a time' is how all the best children's stories begin and 'prostitute' is a word for adults. How can I
start a book with this apparent contradiction? But since, at every moment of our lives, we
all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss, let's keep that beginning.

Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria."

Courtesy: solskinn who made a bookring of this

a caged bird..

"Once upon a time, there was a bird. He was adorned with two perfect wings and with glossy, colourful, marvellous feathers. In short, he was a creature made to fly about freely in the sky, bringing joy to everyone who saw him.
One day, a woman saw this bird and fell in love with him. She watched his flight, her
mouth wide in amazement, her heart pounding, her eyes shining with excitement. She invited the bird to fly with her, and the two travelled across the sky in perfect harmony. She admired and venerated and celebrated that bird.
But then she thought: He might want to visit far-off mountains! And she was afraid, afraid that she would never feel the same way about any other bird. And she felt envy, envy for the bird's ability to fly.
And she felt alone.
And she thought: 'I'm going to set a trap. The next time the bird appears, he will never leave again.'
The bird, who was also in love, returned the following day, fell into the trap and was put in a cage.
She looked at the bird every day. There he was, the object of her passion, and she showed him to her friends, who said: 'Now you have everything you could possibly want.' However, a strange transformation began to take place: now that she had the bird and no
longer needed to woo him, she began to lose interest. The bird, unable to fly and express the true meaning of his life, began to waste away and his feathers to lose their gloss; he grew ugly; and the woman no longer paid him any attention, except by feeding him and cleaning out his cage.
One day, the bird died. The woman felt terribly sad and spent all her time thinking about him. But she did not remember the cage, she thought only of the day when she had seen him for the first time, flying contentedly amongst the clouds.
If she had looked more deeply into herself, she would have realised that what had thrilled
her about the bird was his freedom, the energy of his wings in motion, not his physical body."

- Eleven Minutes

Friday, April 17, 2009

A different business..

'Prostitution isn't like other businesses: beginners earn more and the more experienced
earn less. Always pretend you're a beginner.'

Eleven Minutes

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Bookseller of Kabul

Title: The Bookseller of Kabul
Author: Asne Seierstad

Publ: Virago - 2004
ISBN: 1 84408 047 1

It was a bit of a dragging read, but I managed to finish it. I don't think this is a great book. The author tells us the story of an Afghan family at the time of the Taliban regime and afterwards. She narrates incidents from this family consisting of many members, and through them tries to give us a picture of the Afghan society of the time. But I think she has been successful in neither. Neither could she weave up an interesting story out of the plot, nor show us enough of the Taliban influenced nation. Both lack depth. The account of the happenings of Sultan Khan's family has nothing in it that makes it an artistic creation of fiction. It's nothing more than a dull, monotonous report. And as she had to concentrate on the affairs of the family, she couldn't give us much of the real society shattered by the Taleban.

I guess most of the readers who say it's a fantastic book are westerners. And the reason must be their introduction to something from the culture of the East that sounds strange and fascinating in some way as it is all different from their own. This is the same thing I felt about The Memoirs of a Geisha. But I think that that book was a bit better than this as it could claim a bit more depth to its overall content.

Courtesy: katrinat who made a bookring of this.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Abu Dhabi International Book-Fair- 2009

The Abu Dhabi International Book-Fair- 2009 March was more than a bookfair.
A few pictures from the fair:

A section of German books

The DC Books stall for Malayalam books

A Chat with the Arabic writer Hoda Barakat

Fusion.... Renowned German pianist Laura Feldmann plays the piano to the recitation of a poem by the Arabic poet Mohammed Khalifa

Kids' fun corner. A quiz is going on for kids. A good company with the jovial quizmaster

Algerian- French writer Assia Djebar with French Professor Richard Sieburth

The traditional tents arranged by The Emirates Heritage Club

Idrees from Madhya Pradesh in the Indian stall of Goodword Books. This picture was made on his request (I've already sent by post to his Madhya Pradesh address three copies of this printed)

A French stall from the Antiquarian section of the book-fair. They specialize in rare and old maps, atlases and the like

Yet another stall belonging to the Antiquarian display of very old editions

An old manuscript in Arabic

Yet another attraction... Stone Books!! Stone sculptured in the shape of books. An item to adorn your living room with