Monday, October 31, 2005

Rest, then disquieted heart

The bestest poem on Diwali ever written, here is Vikram Seth's Diwali. Via.

Three years of neurotic
Guy Fawkes Days-I recall
That lonely hankering –
But I am home after all.

Home. These walls, this sky
Splintered with wakes of light
These mud-lamps beaded round
The eaves, this festive night,

These streets, these voices...yet
The old insensate dread,
Abeyant as that love,
Once more shifts in my head.

Five? Six? generations ago
Somewhere in the Punjab
My father’s family, farmers,
Perhaps had a small shop

And two generations later
Could send a son to a school
To gain the conqueror’s
Authoritarian seal:

English! Six-armed god,
Key to a job, to power,
Snobbery, the good life,
This separateness, this fear.

English: beloved language
of Jonson, Wordsworth’s tongue –
These my “meridian names”
Whose grooves I crawl along.

The Mughuls fought and ruled
And settled. Even while
They hungered for musk-melon,
Rose, peach, nightingale,

The land assumed their love.
At sixty they could not
Retire westwards. The British
Made us the Orient.

How could an Englishman say
About the divan-e-khas
“If there is heaven on earth
It is this; it is this; it is this.”?

Macaulay the prophet of learning
Chewed at his pen: one taste
Of Western wisdom “surpasses
All the books of the East,”

And Kalidas, Shankaracharya,
Panini, Bhaskar, Kabir,
Surdas sank, and we welcomed
The reign of Shakespeare.

The undigested Hobbes,
The Mill who later ground
(Through talk of liberty)
The Raj out of the land ...

O happy breed of Babus,
I march on with your purpose;
We will have railways, common law
And a good postal service –

And I twist along
Those grooves from image to image,
Violet, elm-tree, swan,
Pork-pie, gable, scrimmage

And as we title our memoirs
“Roses in December”
Though we all know that here
Roses grow in December

And we import songs
Composed in the U.S
For Vietnam (not even
Our local horrors grip us)

And as, over gin at the Club,
I note that egregious member
Strut just perceptibly more
When with a foreigner,

I know that the whole world
Means exile of our breed
Who are not home at home
And are abroad abroad,

Huddled in towns, while around:
“He died last week. My boys
Are starving. Daily we dig
The ground for sweet potatoes.”

“The landlord’s hirelings broke
My husband’s ribs-and I
Grow blind in the smoke of the hearth.”
“Who will take care of me

When I am old? No-one
Is left.” So it goes on,
The cyclic shadow-play
Under the sinister sun;

That sun that, were there water,
Could bless the dispirited land,
Coaxing three crops a year
From this same yieldless ground.

Yet would these parched wraiths still
Starve in their ruins, while
“Silkworms around them grow
Into fat cocoons?”, Sad soil,

This may as well be my home.
Because no other nation
Moves me thus? What of that?
Cause for congratulation?

This could well be my home;
I am too used to the flavor
Of tenous fixity;
I have been brought to savour

Its phases: the winter wheat –
The flowers of Har-ki-Doon –
The sal forests - the hills
Inflamed with rhododendron –

The first smell of the Rains
On the baked earth-the peaks
Snow-drowned in permanence –
The single mountain lakes.

What if my tongue is warped?
I need no words to gaze
At Ajanta, those flaked caves,
Or at the tomb of Mumtaz;

And when an alap of Marwa
Swims on slow flute-notes over
The neighbours’ roofs at sunset
Wordlessly like a lover

It holds me-till the strain
Of exile, here or there,
Subverts the trance, the fear
Of fear found everywhere.

“But freedom?” the notes would sing...
Parole is enough. Tonight
Below the fire-crossed sky
Of the Festival of Light.

Give your soul leave to feel
What distilled peace it can;
In lieu of joy, at least
This lapsing anodyne.

“The world is a bridge. Pass over it,
Building no house upon it.”
Acceptance may come with time;
Rest, then disquieted heart.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wires and lights in a box

"Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live."

When I heard these words at the beginning of Good Night, and Good Luck, I naturally assumed it was the scriptwriter. But I was wrong. Google tells me that Edward Murrow actually said this in a speech at the RTNDA convention in 1958. It's been nearly 50 years since he made this speech and if he were alive today, I am sure he would be happy to know that we don't insulate ourselves from reality anymore. We now have reality TV.

In a country obsessed with The Apprentice and Desperate Housewives, in an age of embedded journalism, I wonder why anyone, least of all George Clooney would want to make a movie about Murrow and McCarthy. How exactly is he going to make his money back? That the theme is quite relevant to the present times where almost every other day we seem to hear of curbs on civil liberties in the name of national security is besides the point. Anyway, I am glad the movie is out there. Regardless of the unnecessary and probably unwarranted glorification that it indulges in, I still think its one of the best movies made this year.

Shot entirely in black and white, almost all the action happens inside a smoky newsroom, smoky being the key. For those of us born long after the hazards of smoking had been clearly established and smoking bans were put in place, the smoke that pervades every scene of the movie seems strange, even disturbing in a way. But it seems as if this smoke is also the perfect backdrop to convey the hazy nature of events that occured in this country and in the newsrooms of CBS for a few months in 1953-54. The movie traces the six-month period from late 1953 to early 1954 during which Murrow used his CBS series See It Now to launch an attack against McCarthy's witchhunts. A stoic David Strathairn plays Murrow brilliantly; his resonant voice transports us back to the golden age of radio journalism. A subdued Clooney plays Fred Friendly, producer and partner of the show. McCarthy plays himself - snarling on TV screens as usual. (For no apparent reason, I got a kick out of seeing the same clip I was used to seeing years ago in trivia events where they ask you to identify the personality!)

The movie starts with Murrow's 1958 speech, and then flashes back to drop you at the newsroom with no context, no background whatsoever. If you didn't know who McCarthy or Murrow was, this movie is definitely not for you. It then takes you through Murrow's(and Friendly's) machinations to get the report on McCarthy and his victims on air. At all times, the newsroom seems to be in a heightened state of tension which spares no one in the room. That you know what's going to happen to Murrow and McCarthy doesn't in any way dampen your interest in what's happening on the screen. What's different about this movie is not really Murrow's fight with McCarthy as nothing happens there that is unusual or unexpected but its Murrow's stand-offs with Paley, the boss man, and his conversations with Don, his mentee which gives us an inkling of how things are not as simple as they seem, and how there are more shades of grey than anyone would care to admit. Especially a Hollywood movie.

So what did I not like about the movie? Just one thing actually. Glorification of Murrow to the extent that an uninitiated viewer might be misled into thinking that Murrow single-handedly brought down McCarthy and no one else ever spoke against McCarthy. But as this is a movie after all, not even a documentary, I think I can be conned to overlook this one mistake.

Oh and before I finito, here are some more excerpts from Murrow's speech. I think its as relevant today as it was 50 years ago though you would be hard pressed to find anyone who is willing to listen.

"Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night the time normally occupied by Ed Sullivan is given over to a clinical survey of the state of American education, and a week or two later the time normally used by Steve Allen is devoted to a thoroughgoing study of American policy in the Middle East. Would the corporate image of their respective sponsors be damaged? Would the stockholders rise up in their wrath and complain? Would anything happen other than that a few million people would have received a little illumination on subjects that may well determine the future of this country, and therefore the future of the corporations?"


"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Quake Relief Day

Today is Blog Quake Day. Desipundit has taken the initiative for organizing a day of quake relief awareness in the blogosphere. Go do your bit towards quake relief and contribute to your favorite charity. If you are looking for a place to contribute to, I suggest Sepoy of CM - he has a personal drive where all proceeds go to Edhi foundation and he also has other suggestions.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

How to make friends and get married

If ever there were a contest in the blogosphere for the title of "the most snobbish of them all booksnobs", this man would win it hands down. He has a post up on 42 today about books, bookshelves and snobs and methinks its a good time to unveil to the world my "how to make friends and get married" formula. It involves a certain amount of snobbery, for sure, but stay with me and you will see that its all very much warranted.

What's the first thing you look for when you enter a stranger's apartment for the first time? I almost always look around for the bookshelf. No bookshelf? Okay dude, see ya, or rather, not see ya. Wait, you say there is a bookshelf? Good. Next time I see you in the street, I will nod. Now, what books does it hold?

Needless to say, this is the round where most people get eliminated(or saved if you want to think of it that way). Some usual suspects:

1. Java programming, The complete SAP guide, The Little SAS Book - "Oops, wrong apartment, sorry" or "You have an extremely boring roomate?"

2. Rich Dad Poor Dad, Barron's GMAT types - These people are actually the easiest to spot so you can avoid going to their apartments in the first place. Any conversation you have with them will start with their business school plans and their investing interests. They will give you investment advice which they read on Motley Fool an hour ago and will go on and on about Mr Buffet. But if you ever ask them whether they have read The Intelligent Investor, they will look at you like you just landed from Mars. These types also tend to talk about popular TV shows and football games, another sign that one should stay away from them as much as possible.

3. Dan Brown, John Grisham, Sydney Sheldon et al. - These readers(if you could call them that) are quite funny. Once they see you looking at their books, they will immediately start a conversation on the latest Dan Brown - "I thought it was interesting how he talked about the Golden Ratio. What do you think? Oh, have you read the book? I just assumed you did. You see, I am a voracious reader and I usually forget that people have other priorities". My reaction usually goes something like this - "Did you find me lying on the street completely stoned and bring me to your apartment? If so, thanks but I gotta run."

4. Richard Bach, Paulo Coelho, Kahlil Gibran and an occassional Ayn Rand - These types are actually quite dangerous as they will not only go on and on about what they call their philosophy on life in general and themselves in particular but will expect you to listen to them and agree to whatever they say. If you ever find yourself stuck in an apartment belonging to one of these types, the best thing to do is to keep nodding your head and pray for a terrorist attack.

5. Booker, Nobel winners etc. - These people can be easily made to shut up. They just buy books, never really read much. All you have to do is to make up some nonsense about what happens in the latest Coetzee on their shelf and they will just keep nodding. When I am stuck in such an apartment, I also try to play a game - I try to guesstimate what percentage of the books in their shelves have actually been read. Note: It's not really necessary that you should have read the book. It actually works better if you had not as you know for sure that the person concerned is agreeing to things that you are making up on the fly.

Let's say for a moment that the stranger in question passes this round with flying colors. Say he has the required Henry James and can talk about it intelligently, quotes from Auden multiple times and actually knows who Gwaihir is. This is when I know that the man in question is definitely friend material and that this relationship could be pursued.

The next step is to figure out politics. Shakespeare is all fine but he should also be able to talk Plato and Chomsky with equal ease. Otherwise what's the point? Once I get past that point, we get to humor. In my opinion, this is where most book snobs go wrong - they assume that humor ain't that important and end up regretting it later. If you have to take away one thing from my guide, take this : If the bookshelf does not have anything as basic as Wodehouse, Wilde or Nash, I suggest you start making for that door. Now.

Once this stage is crossed, next step is to figure out whether he is another of those colonial hangover types who just reads what's been generally prescribed or whether he actually has any variety. This is a good time to look around for the O. Vijayan translation. If you find it on the shelves, its recommended that you try to have a conversation about it as most people just consider these books coffetable material. I have come to understand that people who get to this phase are almost always smart enough to exhibit the Thirukural translation but very few of them actually read it. Case in point - any visitor to the boy's room would see the beautifully bound Tagore on his nightstand. But I know that he hardly ever reads it.

All pass, you say? Well, there's really only one thing left then. Literature is great and all but it really doesn't fill your stomach. Find out if the guy makes enough money and if he does, go get married to him as soon as possible before another snob finds out about him.

Note 1: My dear friend BM doesn't believe in buying books but she happens to be the most frequent visitor to her local public library. My other dear friend A in Austin loses books like nobody's business so if one were to visit his apartment, one would assume that he doesn't read, which needless to say, is wrong. These two people are examples of my friends who do not fit in the above framework but who said there aren't exceptions?

Note 2: I realize that I am going to get married to someone who has not read the Tagore on his nightstand. And that he is a poor grad student who makes no money. I KNOW these facts. Do NOT rub it in. Two wrong out of all that is NOT bad. But if you do know someone who scores better, please do not hesitate to let me know. There's still a little over a month to go before the wedding happens.

Monday, October 24, 2005

There's only one Holly.

"So, what do I think of this Grady girl? Yes, darling, I was just getting to that. My first thought was what in the hell was Truman up to? I know he wrote this eons - well, at least a decade - before he wrote up my tale, and so maybe you just have to shrug the whole thing off as a flimsy, youthful endeavor, but still."

"To be perfectly frank, there's something - how should I put it? - a smidge contrived about the whole enterprise. It's not that I'm competitive with the girl - far be it from me to be jealous of anybody named Grady - but I get the distinct impression that Truman just didn't care about her story the same way he cared about mine. And the title of her tale: "Summer Crossing"? Not that I give a hoot about such things, but it just pales next to 'Breakfast at Tiffany's.'"

Michiko Kakutani reviews Capote's Summer Crossing.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Of spaces

Go see New York, the city like no other. Go experience the quaintness of Boston. Go lose yourself in the clean and crooked streets of San Francisco. Go have fresh salmon in rainy Seattle. Go take an architecture tour of Chicago. And if you are so inclined, go spend a night in Vegas. Everything worth seeing has been seen. America has been done. Checkmark.

I tend to disagree. I love every one of the cities mentioned above other than Vegas which I absolutely abhor. But America is not the sum total of these cities and their suburbs put together. I am sure an argument could be made that if you really want to experience the soul of America, go South or go to the Midwest - way inside middle America is where you will find what you are looking for but who said anything about America's soul? As always, I am more interested in concrete things, the abstract never really worked for me. I am more interested in what I consider America's most precious wealth - her soil, her rocks, her water, her craters, her mountains, and her trees; I am more interested in the America that cannot be destroyed, only recreated.

And whatever people may tell you, counting the cars on the New Jersey turnpike is nowhere close. Unless you have climbed down the crevices of the Grand Canyon, unless you have camped on a glacier at the Kenai Fjords, unless you have driven down Shenandoah Valley with John Denver on your radio, unless you have stopped by the woods of New Hampshire on a lovely fall evening, unless you have conquered the heights of the Yosemite half-dome, unless you have stood at a tree-trunk at Redwood forest and looked up, unless you have watched Mt Rainier and Crater Lake glistening in the sun, unless you have sat quietly in your campsite in Channel Islands waiting for the birds, unless you have hiked in the Smokies in spring, unless you have seen the wildflowers of June in the wild Rockies, unless you have been stuck in the tallest sand dune in Death Valley in the middle of a sandstorm, unless you have visited every one of the National Parks this beautiful country has to offer, you have not seen America at all.

Now go read this editorial and lament.

Friday reading

Here's a link to an interview with a man I immensely respect. He says nothing new in this particular interview but what he says can never be stressed enough.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Of dogs and me

Home is where the dogs smile at you.

In my corner of the world, there are more dogs than people. Well, okay, more dogs than kids. Not surprising, considering I live in the yuppiest section of the city where you will be hard pressed to find a real family. No, I don't live here because it's so hip, I live here despite it being so. I don't live here for the mindboggling diversity either - tell me where else in the world will I find a blue-eyed blonde boy from the cornfields of Kansas living right next door to a blue-eyed golden-haired farm boy from Kentucky living right next door to a blue-eyed strawberry blonde girl from Milwaukee, WI? For the longest time, I thought I was the token "we believe in diversity" person in the neighborhood but now I know there are two of us - MR lives just a couple of blocks down.

Getting back to the topic at hand, there are a lot of dogs in my neighborhood. I have a 'live and let live' policy as far as dogs go and I try to stay out of their way as much as possible. I embraced this policy after my encounter with a street dog back when I was 5 years ago. Technically, it wasn't my fault, I just wanted to see if he was asleep or not and so I gently tapped him with a red balloon I had gotten from one of those beach vendors the day before. Needless to say, he didn't take to it very kindly and what followed is best left unwritten. Let it suffice to say that I have never taken an interest in dogs ever since and to this day, I am very much unable to tell a labrador from an Alsatian (or are they the same?)

So you can imagine my astonishment when I realized that not only do I know the dogs of Lincoln Park, they know me too. Yesterevening I was just getting out of my apartment when I see this little, brown pup right in front of the building. For the life of me, I do not know what kind she is but I know her well enough to know that she likes candy. What kind of dog likes candy, you ask? How do I know? All I know is I have seen this one hogging candy bars. And I knew who owned her. I didn't know her master, but I sure knew what he looked like without looking up. Yes, thats what it has come to - I now recognize my neighbors because I associate them with their dogs.

It would have been okay if that was all there's to it. After all, when the dogs are more interesting than the masters, why would you remember the owner and not the dog? But that's not all happened. This little brown thing sits right in front of my door a and smiles at me. Yes, smiles at me. And its owner was completely startled. He told me that he had never seen this expression on his baby and wanted to know what I did to make it happen. Me, make his dog smile? Dude, all I did was try to go around the dog so that I was as far away from it as possible. I sure as hell don't know why it did that.

It would have been still okay if it was just this little brown pup. These little things are always craving for attention anyways and they probably smile at anything that moves. Five minutes later, I was running past one of the most popular dogs of the neighborhood - I just know he's popular, don't ask me how - he is pretty cool. He is your regular metrosexual - looks great, knows he looks great and is usally very well-behaved. He saw me running, followed, caught up, overtook, turned around and sat there on the lakeshore trail smiling at me. What was I to do? Is this a conspiracy or do these things really like me?

I figured there was only one way to find out. So I ran back to Oz Park where I knew I would find the saddest dog in Lincoln Park. His master takes him there every evening and he tries to catch the squirrels. He is very shy and never plays with the other dogs. He kind of looks like a sheep(is this a sheepdog?), its like he has an identity crisis or something. I find him at the Northeast corner of the park and I try to catch his attention. He sees me, gives up on the squirrel he was running after, and gives me the saddest smile that anyone's ever given me. That's it. No more lingering doubts or questions. These dudes do actually like me! I somehow, by just going out of their way every time I see them, seem to have earned their endearing smiles. Yippee! Woof woof!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Birthday Blues

A post to prove a point to the Black Mamba - BM dear, there are things that are worse than that aarti you were talking about yesterday.

Start all the clocks, connect the telephone
Get the dog to bite with a juicy bone
Play the pianos and with clear drum
Bring out the cake, let the friends come

Let aeroplanes circle buzzing overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message he is very much alive
Put red bows round the white necks of the public doves
Let the traffic policemen wear white leather gloves

He is my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I am right

The stars are still wanted; assemble another one
Get a new moon and a brighter sun,
Let more water into the ocean and plant more trees
For everything now will only come to good.

(With apologies, ofcourse, to W H Auden and all those who have read him)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Word of the day

Sparse (spärs)
Pronunciation: 'spärs
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin sparsus spread out, from past participle of spargere to scatter

: of few and scattered elements; especially : not thickly grown or settled

And yes, Pinter won the Nobel.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


While some of us have to whore away our weekends so that we could put food on the table, some others can indulge in staring up at the ceiling and coming up with profound statements like the following:

"When a talk show host from Chicago, and not just another talk show but one which smacks of completely useless sentimentality, changes the face of publishing in the country, doesn't that say something very pitiable about the country itself?"

"I don't think anyone is looking for your pity."

"That's not the point. Do you know what I have against Marquez?"

"You have something against Marquez now? I would never have guessed."

"Well, sort of. Nothing personal actually. I keep thinking that there must be something wrong with his books because they make Oprah's book club. You know what I mean?"

"You bloody snob. Shut up."


"I'd rather be Smiley".

"Your name does kind of translate to 'Sweet Smile'. Come to think of it, you could pass off as Native American with a name like that."

"That's not what I meant. I meant George Smiley."


"Well, better be Smiley than be Bond right? After all, Bond is only a movie star".

"And Smiley is a real spy?"

"He could be one if he wanted to."

"Yeah right."


"Its sad that I will never receive a call from Sweden."

"You and Emil are not talking now?"

"Not from Emil dumbo. You know, the call."

"No, I don't know what you are talking about."

"The ACM is based out of somewhere here. So they will never call me from Sweden."


IIPM who?

As I seem to be absolute last person in the blogosphere to hear about this IIPM controversy, there's no need to explain it all again here. Check this and this for all the information you will ever need on this.

As much as its heartening to see the blogosphere taking this on, its disappointing to see nothing about this controversy in the mainstream media. Hope all resident journalists of the blogosphere get this out to the masses soon.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Arthur and George

Arthur and George by Julian Barnes

Any year, Arthur & George would be an interesting read – the creator of the world’s most famous detective doing some legwork on his own to save the country lawyer with the wrong last name sounds so attractive that it makes one wonder why someone hadn’t attempted this until now. In this particular year however, in the months after the London bombings, as England seems to be engaged in a self-introspection on whether she could have done anything to stop her own children from carrying out such monstrous acts, Arthur & George becomes particularly interesting. And this could be why it becomes important to remind oneself that this book is not an attempt at answering (or questioning) the issues of racism in Britain; instead it is a beautiful story about two very different men who meet under extraordinary circumstances for a brief period of time and then go on about their lives as usual. So if I feel vaguely unsatisfied because I think Barnes should have raised more questions about the bigger issues of the day, I really have only myself to blame.

The story starts with alternating narratives of young Arthur and George - Arthur, brought up in poor aristocracy, grows up listening to stories in his Mam’s kitchen; he is an imaginative child who effortlessly impresses his schoolmates with his narratives; he is a promising cricketer and a scholar. After a failed career as an ophthalmologist, he takes up full-time writing and soon becomes famous as the creator of Sherlock Holmes. George, on the other hand, grows up in rural England, son of an Anglican vicar, poor, friendless, stolid and completely devoid of imagination. He is taunted throughout his teenage years as he is visibly ‘brown’ but he remains steadfastly English. He becomes a solicitor in Birmingham whose only claim to fame is a railway manual on the rights of the traveling public.

In 1903, a series of horse maimings occur in the community of Great Wyrley and everyone wants a quick arrest. The police arrest George on what looks to be made-up evidence; he is tried and sentenced to prison. When he gets out of prison, he is bent upon clearing his name so that he can practice again. He writes to Sir Arthur asking for his help. Sir Arthur, who is going through a tough phase in his own life, caught between his dead wife whom he nursed for thirteen years and his lover of many years who he somehow could not bring himself to marry now that he’s free, finds George’s case a way out of his misery and he sets out to clear George’s name. He succeeds partly if it could be called that, what’s important is that Sir Arthur realizes that he is not after all his creation and that in real life, one would have to be content sometimes without finding the villain of the piece.

Arthur & George is a fast read and hugely entertaining. At times, one could almost imagine Barnes as Watson poring over his notes to see how he should present the case to his readers. His ability to make the reader believe what he writes as the gospel truth, as if he witnessed every scene in the flesh is inspiring to say the least. Given the characters of the story, it seems very easy to make Sir Arthur superior in both character and ability to George but Barnes misses this trap altogether. Sir Arthur’s rational skepticism draws him into “spiritism” while George’s simple Christian beliefs have a strong secular and rational streak. It is George, not Sir Arthur who makes some of the most interesting observations in the book. Like this instance where George ponders over Sir Arthur's involvement in his case - “And it was all, George decided, the fault of Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur had been too influenced by his own creation. Holmes performed his brilliant acts of deduction and then handed villains over to the authorities with their umambiguous guilt written all over them. But Holmes had never once been obliged to stand in the witness box and have his suppositions and intuitions and immaculate theories ground to very fine dust over a period of several hours by the likes of Mr. Disturnal” and this where he wonders why his affair never received the kind of attention that the Dreyfus affair did in France - "But more than this, he suspected that his obscurity was something to do with England itself. France, as he understood it, was a country of extremes, of violent opinion, violent principles and long memories. England was a quieter place, just as principled, but less keen on making a fuss about its principles; a place where the common law was trusted more than government statute; where people got on with their own business and did not seek to innterfere with that of others; where great public eruptions took place from time to time; eruptions of feeling which might even tip over into violence and injustice, but which soon faded into the memory, and were rarely built into the history of the country."

In conclusion, I'd say that Arthur & George is a highly engaging book which achieves perfectly what it sets out to achieve. And again, if I think it should have set out to achieve more, it is hardly Barnes's fault. So will it win the Booker? If you believe the bookies, it will. And not having read the other books on the short list, I really cannot say.

Jabberwock's review here.

And if you are wondering where Barnes got his inspiration from, Prufrock Two explains away.

PS - The reason why I sound a little skeptical of this book despite me actually liking it is this - In my mind, the Booker prize is given to one of the best books of the year, if not the best. And as much as I like Arthur & George, I cannot really see it being anywhere close to another book that I read recently (which I believe was released last year and anyway for obvious reasons, it wouldn't qualify for this particular prize). I realize that the comparison is completely unfair (to Barnes especially) but hey, who said I was trying to be objective here? Get on with it, you say? Okay, run along and read The Plot Against America and then come and tell me if you have read anything better in recent times.

World government leaders

As per a BBC poll, the people most people would like to lead a fantasy world government are:

1. Nelson Mandela
2. Bill Clinton
3. Dalai Lama
4. Noam Chomsky
5. Alan Greenspan

Tells one so much about the jobless people who actually voted, doesn't it?

Never Let Me Go

Nadi Josyam and Ishiguro? Who would have thought?

Here's Karthik's review of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go.

The original Booker Mela post here.