Categories
Book review Film review

Monthly Review: September 2022 (Almost No Memory; The Sound and the Fury)

Full-length book reviews: Lydia Davis’s short story collection *Almost No Memory*; Faulker’s *The Sound & the Fury*; began reading *godel Escher Bach* and abandoned it; short reviews of some films I watched in recent months including *American Beauty* and *Sleepy Hollow.* Wrote a fair bit, including rewrites and microstories.

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Film review

Film reviews: Rewatching My Favourite Television Show & Movie (Breaking Bad and LOTR)

Over the last few weeks I’ve rewatched *Breaking Bad* and *The Lord of the Rings* trilogy. Here’s what I thought of them.

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Book review

Monthly Review: August 2022 (Out of Sheer Rage; Circe; Coral Glynn)

What I Read: Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of DH Lawrence (Geoff Dyer, 1997): The narrator is trying to write a book about DH Lawrence, but keeps getting sidetracked: by trips to Greek islands where everything is dull but the traffic, the unpredictable unavailability of cornetti at his favourite café in Rome, his […]

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Short story

Mothers and Sons

The lives of two women & their sons intersect against a background of violence & secrecy. Do we feel less able to hurt someone when we realise they’re already hurting?

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Microstory

One Day

A set of ten loosely linked microstories set in Allahabad. Tales of ambition, grind, love, loneliness, & social conflict.

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Short story

The Why and the How

A speculative short story examining poverty, hard choices, and a ray of hope.

Categories
Book review

Monthly Review: July 2022 (The Red & the Black; A Swim in the Pond in the Rain)

Read: Stendhal & George Saunders. Wrote: a fair bit of short fiction. Fared: energetic, optimistic, & focussed, bordering on manic territory.

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Novellas & Novelettes

To Decide or Not to Decide

Ganesh is trapped at home in Bangalore w/ Achal, his wife from an arranged marriage. Covid has brought Ganesh unexpected new opportunities. The life he’s living feels suffocating, & he now has the chance to escape from it to pursue the dreams he had as a child. Will Ganesh seize the day, or keep writhing in the grip of decision paralysis?

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Book review

Monthly Review: June 2022 (City of Victory; The Wind in the Willows; The Psychology of Money; White Noise)

What I read, wrote, & published, & how I fared.

Categories
Short story

Last Day of Freedom

Forty-year-old Elef enjoys his last day of freedom before heading to prison. He catches up with Clive and accompanies him on his errands. Elef contemplates the crimes that have condemned him to prison for the rest of his life.

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Flash story

Waiting

A new couple drive up a mountain to enjoy a day together, but they’re both waiting for something.

Categories
Book review What I read

Monthly Review: May 2022 (Pulp; Post Office; Macbeth; Much Ado About Nothing; some short fiction)

Bukowski & Shakespeare. Some writing; some publications. Another depressive episode, followed by introspection & course correction (ongoing).

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Novellas & Novelettes

At Play

A young girl spends a summer back home in Calcutta in the 1990s. She makes a new friend. Both girls face crises and contemplate the future of their friendship.

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Microstory

Highway

A 100-word story.

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What I read

What I Read, Wrote, & Published: April 2022 (Kafka’s Letter to my Father; Tropic of Cancer; Ordinary People; The Lost World; The Poison Belt; Black Beauty)

What I Read: Kafka’s Letter to My Father. Finished Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. Judith Guest’s Ordinary People. Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (reread after primary school) & The Poison Belt. Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. Needed a light read, and I’d never read this. This is super-light, touching when it’s not preachy, not a story […]

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Book review Personal Essay What I read

What I Read, Wrote, & Published: March 2022 (Treasure Island; Blink; Anthony & Cleopatra; The Lesson; some short fiction)

Lots of stuff.

Categories
Short story

The Why and the How

This magic realist/speculative story explores poverty, motherhood, and the ethics of necessity from the PoV of a street-dwelling mother bitch in India.

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Book review

What I Read, Wrote, & Published: February 2022 (Hitler’s Niece; Julius Caesar; An Unquiet Mind)

Voltaire, Hitler. Gladwell, Shakespeare, bipolar disorder, & speculative short fiction.

Categories
Flash story

School Trip

(Image credit. The photo is neither mine nor of me.) Sledgehammer Lit Mag published my flash story “School Trip” on their wacky and wonderful site. This story about social class and empathy was inspired by a trip to Banerghatta National Park. *** They’re nine-year-olds, too old, so by the time they’re taunting the moon bears […]

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What I read

What I Read & Wrote & Published in January 2022 (Hitler’s Vienna; Edwin Drood; Cat On A Hot Tin Roof; The Glass Menagerie; A Streetcar Named Desire)

Read: Nonfiction & a novel & drama & some short stories.

Wrote & published: mostly short fiction.

Categories
Book review History Politics

Zweites Buch. Adolf Hitler (1928)

Where Mein Kampf is a sprawling, ill-organised rant overflowing with hateful conspiracy theories, Zweites Buch is a succinct, mostly cogent, well-reasoned statement of Adolf Hitler’s foreign policy views. The ongoing German-Italian crisis regarding the South Tyrol has motivated Hitler to critique Germany’s current foreign policy, and develop a suitable alternative. This he does in the context of considering abstractly the proper motives and goals of any nation’s foreign policy. Zweites Buch is an aetiology of politics itself. If Mein Kampf was an endless parade of Hitler’s destructive delusions and obsessions, Zweites Buch is a glimpse into the mind of an astute politician, a committed if misguided patriot, and a man both “logical and fanatical,” as one observer put it. Zweites Buch puts antisemitism and antibolshevism mostly on the backshelf, and articulates the broad points of the policies Hitler was soon to enact. This analysis of problems and potential solutions – of economics, international rivalries and inequities, and fierce competition over limited natural resources – is a unique window into an important mind, and remains relevant in global politics today

Categories
Short story

Rush

Black Fork Review Issue 5 published my 2400-word short story “Rush” in Issue #5. I was born, I must’ve been, though who’s got time to be born anymore? My mother was a fast-food-counter clerk and daycare janitor, and a third job too, or maybe that was later, either way she wouldn’t’ve had time to give […]

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Interview

Interview with Mithran Somasundrum, author of The Mask Under My Face

I met Mithran Somasundrum via the Internet Writing Workshop. I enjoyed his debut novel, The Mask Under My Face, which I’ve reviewed here. Mithran kindly agreed to do an interview about this novel, his writing life, and his day job. He also offers advice and resources for writers.

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Book review

My Reading List 2021

What I read this year.

Categories
Book review

Places (2021) Ana Vidosavljevic

Places presents the reader with a range of colourful characters having interesting experiences in locales scattered across the globe. Ana Vidosavljevic’s trademark flair for colour, description, humour, and empathy enliven these nineteen tales. Places is an assorted chocolate box so savour over the course of a lazy weekend.

Categories
Book review

The Mask Under My Face (2021). Mithran Somasundrum

Mithran Somasundrum’s debut novel climaxes during the political protests in Thailand in 2010, where communists revolted against the repressive regime. The novel’s events are a protest in microcosm against old Thailand’s entrenched power systems: the old and new wealthy whose privileges included partial immunity from the law. One of Mask’s two protagonists is the middle-class son of a murdered policeman; the other is the upper-class murderer. Mask’s achievement is twofold: first, it heralds democracy in Thailand; second, it gets us to understand, if not to sympathise with, both sides of a murder story. Mask is a promising debut from Somsasundrum, who has previously published short fiction in some of the world’s most prestigious literary magazines.

Categories
Book review

German Voices: Memories of Life During Hitler’s Third Reich (2011). F. C. Tubach

German Voices is an important contribution to a relatively overlooked niche of Third Reich literature: the experiences of ordinary German citizens. Tubach presents original research, comprising of interviews with German and US residents who lived during Hitler’s rule. This information is presented both as short excerpts supporting the themes of a given chapter, and as a selection of full stories illuminating contrasting experiences. This book does not aim to vindicate the lack of resistance, or the active collaboration, of ordinary citizens. It does illustrate that resistance was very difficult, and thereby raises a key ethical question: Is a human being dutybound, at risk of his own life and his family’s, to protect the lives of strangers?

Categories
Book review

Maurice. E. M. Forster. (1913/1970)

Maurice explores homosexuality in upper-middle class England at the turn of the last century. This unadorned narrative follows a love affair between two young men of different temperaments, but both constrained by the social prejudice and legal concerns surrounding homosexuality at this place and time. Maurice is a social document, recording some of the many aids with which human beings try to deny their reality and wish away human nature. Maurice is also a paean of hope for individual liberty.

Categories
Short story

The Decision

A couple in Bangalore discuss whether the Covid lockdown in India has altered the goods & bads of having a child in a troubled country.

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Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: Three Stories

Three short stories from 2006.

Categories
Poetry

Throwback Thursday: Two Poems: “When Thisbe Was Dead” and “In the Bath”

Two poems from 2011 in Muse India.

Categories
Short story

Courage Anniversary

A magic realist story about a co-dependent relationship in the city of lights.

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Book review

Adam Bede. George Eliot (1859)

Adam Bede is one of my favourite novels. Its setting is idyllic; its cast is diverse, spanning skilled labourers, prosperous tenant farmers, and landowning gentry, speaking a range of Derbyshire dialects, expertly captured; its pace is slow but sure; its story a mature tragedy shot through with hope and acceptance; and everything is suffused with Eliot’s empathy, humour, and grace, already fully matured here in her debut. I first read Adam Bede when I was ten or eleven; it holds up well to rereading.

Categories
Flash story

They Told My Friend

This flash story was originally published by Bandit Fiction on 05 September, 2021. Image Credit They told my friend: “Stop washing your face.” Daniel kept the cleanest face at school – before our mums pulled us out to work. He’d been a good student; he was saddened. Then he laughed and fell to fieldwork.  Daniel […]

Categories
Short story

Biding Time

This story was originally published by uRevolution. Image credit 11:35am.  Almost time for almonds.  They strolled up the walkway towards Halebid  temple.  Dhrub in his arms, Rishab walked slowly.  So slowly, Rita wasn’t sure they were moving.  Were they moving backwards? Whoosh!  They were moving backwards.  Only Rita felt it.  Rita, starved-stoned.  “It’s depressing, visiting […]

Categories
Book review

Letters To A Young Poet. Rainer Maria Rilke (1903-1908), trs Herter Norton (1934)

Written during Rilke’s formative years, his advice in Letters To A Young Poet is a guide not just to artists, but to anyone who wants to live well. Ranging over topics as diverse as vocation and art, sex and solitude, nature and literary criticism, Letters is a lyrical and spiritual guide to living, reading, feeling, and loving. Quick to read, this tiny book will stay with you long afterwards, and hold up to frequent rereadings. Like a holy book, it is best read often and briefly: peep at one passage, savour it, and turn it over on your tongue.

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Book review

Berlin Alexanderplatz. Alfred Doblin (1929). Trs. Michael Hoffman (2017)

Whether you’re looking for an examination of crime and decay, a multi-disciplinary origin-story of individual consciousness, or a landmark in modernism literature that has influenced generations of writers, or just a jolly good narrative – Berlin Alexanderplatz will change the way you read and think.

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Short story

Re:Birth

A magic realist journey of recovery from trauma.

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Book review

Buddenbrooks (1902). Thomas Mann. Trs. H. T. Lowe-Porter, 1922

Buddenbrooks is the four-generation saga of a wealthy 19th-century German merchant family. The Nobel Prize is generally awarded for an oeuvre; Mann’s 1929 citation was primarily for Buddenbrooks: an unusual choice which this novel justifies. Mann’s first novel, written in his early twenties, shows a prodigious talent for observation, an eye for character, an ear for dialogue and dialect, and a canvas ably spanning the better part of the 19th century. Buddenbrooks regularly tops Must-Read Lists of German literature; it has already become one of my favourite novels.

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Book review

Death in Venice (1912). Thomas Mann

Death in Venice records the struggle between discipline and leisure, respectability and abandon in the person of aging writer Gustav Aschenbach. This quasi-autobiographical novella captures the conflict between social mores and primal desire; between the love drive and the death drive.

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Novellas & Novelettes

Zeus and His Things

“Zeus and His Things” is a humorous speculative novelette inspired by (a) my decades-long love of Greek mythology, and (b) the question: What if things don’t really behave systematically, as we expect them to? This novelette published in four parts in Bewildering Stories Volumes 911 & 912 is a lighthearted engagement with the philosophy of science.

Categories
Novellas & Novelettes

Zeus and His Things

“Zeus and His Things” is a humorous speculative novelette inspired by (a) my decades-long love of Greek mythology, and (b) the question: What if things don’t really behave systematically, as we expect them to? This novelette published in four parts in Bewildering Stories Volumes 911 & 912 is a lighthearted engagement with the philosophy of science.

Categories
Novellas & Novelettes

Zeus and His Things: Part 2/4

“Zeus and His Things” is a humorous speculative novelette inspired by (a) my decades-long love of Greek mythology, and (b) the question: What if things don’t really behave systematically, as we expect them to? This novelette published in four parts in Bewildering Stories Volumes 911 & 912 is a lighthearted engagement with the philosophy of science.

Categories
Novellas & Novelettes

Zeus and His Things: Part 1/4

“Zeus and His Things” is a humorous speculative novelette inspired by (a) my decades-long love of Greek mythology, and (b) the question: What if things don’t really behave systematically, as we expect them to? This novelette published in four parts in Bewildering Stories Volumes 911 & 912 is a lighthearted engagement with the philosophy of science.

Categories
Book review Philosophy

Siddhartha, An Indian Tale (1922). Herman Hesse

Siddhartha is the fictitious biography of a man who shares a name, and temporal-spatial proximity, with the Buddha, and who echoes many notes of the Buddha’s development. This spiritual journey into the self unfolds in rolling lyrical language, develops psychological insights in vivid imagery, and reconciles the cacophonous conflict between the worldly and the spiritual in a symphony of joy. Siddhartha is most memorable for its portrait of its protagonist: who combines amiability with an openness to endless change, and becomes a role-model for spiritual seekers everywhere.

Categories
Book review Politics Psychology

Group Psychology and The Analysis of the Ego (1922). Sigmund Freud (trs. James Strachey)

Group Psychology summarises the existing research, and offers the rudiments of a unifying theoretical framework: based on the ego-related processes of suggestibility and object cathexis. In the twin human drives of libido, and of identification with an external object, Freud locates the building-blocks for group psychology. A century on, Freud’s monograph remains a useful tool to understand phenomena of mob behaviour: the preponderance of primitive emotions, the suspension of self-interest, and the moral lows and highs between which mob behaviour often swings.

Categories
Book review Politics

In Dubious Battle (1936). John Steinbeck

Inspired by real-life events, In Dubious Battle is a vivid behind-the-scenes portrait of an agricultural strike during the Great Depression. Ingénue Jim joins up with seasoned communist agitator Mac to organise migrant labourers striking for a living age. Good intentions miscarry, priorities are tested, and the mob rises and wavers in this gripping human drama.

Categories
Short story

Fault

Short story “Fault” published in Commuter Lit. This story in five acts, narrated in alternative scenes by the two protagonists, examines exploitation and unassertiveness within the unstructured environment of a PhD in an India institute, and asks: Whose fault is this?

Categories
Book review

Howards End. E. M. Forster (1910)

Howards End is a novel of ideas, an experiment in reconciling idealism and pragmatism via Forster’s panacea: “personal relations.” Written under the shadow of the Great War, the novel is an allegorical plea for peace between Germany and Britain: a peace based on mutual compromise and humility, and the surrendering of fatal ambitions. Howards End analyses a Britain undergoing rapid economic change and social fragmentation: with cars racing across country roads, but social mores and sexual double standards stuck in the last century. Forster offers compelling interior portraits of its protagonists, Meg and Helen Schlegel, and of a handful of secondary characters across the social spectrum. While the plot is problematic, and the resolution rushed, the novel’s poetic philosophical and psychological speculations remain with the reader long afterwards.