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Jean-Paul Sartre has ruined me for other authors

October 10, 2012

This blog has been held hostage by its author’s desire to write that ‘perfect’ prose. She has held onto drafts as one holds onto crisp new currency notes, like souvenirs not earned just right.

Let her live in her chimerical beliefs of perfect proses and rhymed verses and awed readers. Meanwhile, you and I shall be boring and discuss the books we have been reading this year.

When this year started, I vowed I will expand my genre of reading and diversify into reading a bit of philosophy. So I got this introductory guide on Nietzsche–

A word of advice – don’t begin your journey through philosophy with Nietzsche – especially if you are already a non-believer in absolute truths, a person of strong aspirations, an individualist with the will to rule. You become even more of a person you already were and mostly a pain in the ass of everyone, including yourself. And there is no looking back. I think he has already left an indelible mark on my brain and if I act like a jerk sometimes, at least there is one more person to blame.

I went onto read some of ‘philosophical fiction’ – Camus’s ‘the outsider’, Kundera’s ‘the unbearable lightness of being’ and Sartre’s ‘nausea’.

‘Nausea’ is the worst best book I have ever read. That book held me by my head in the deepest end of the clear blue pool, kept my head dunked in water all the time so I couldn’t breathe, and I had to push up to catch those precious moments of relief-breaths before it dunked me again. It felt most alive, it felt the worst. I am dying to read it again, after a few years maybe, after I grow up a little more.

I immediately bought ‘the age of reason’ and after mustering courage to delve into Sartre again, I am reading it these days. I just wish I can go back in time and un-read Sartre. It gets too intense at times, makes you feel and think a lot. You exist. And it’s a lot to deal with especially if you are an escapist in general.

To get over ‘Nausea’, I had to re-read two ‘Wodehouses’ (I have read all. They are my comfort books). I always keep Mr. Wodehouse handy, a comforting balm for all my heartaches.

I had ‘middlesex’ on my shelf for quite some time but never got around to reading it. Instead, I bought and read ‘The marriage plot’ byJeffrey Eugenides. It’s a bulky but breezy read and every literature lover will end up loving it, even if just to compare notes. All the time I was reading this book, I kept imagining Madeleine as being played by Zooey Deschanel. TV has clearly messed up my head.

Finally, I have discovered a tiny local library called ‘Just Books’ that is making most of my reading dreams come true. I always want to own books I read but a library gives you room to experiment with your reading. So, I borrowed Mahesh Dattani’s collection of plays but could only read ‘Thirty Days in September’. It is a moving play but to enjoy a play, you need more imagination. You have to create that set in your head, be aware of your characters beforehand. It’s like meeting people after you have checked them out on facebook, you sort of know them already albeit superficially. It’s not half as fun.

Though that did not stop me in any way to buy Arthur Miller’s classic “Death of a Salesman”. It’s adorning my bookshelf. I am yet to read it.

If you are even half as much a fan of Tina Fey as I am, you have to read ‘Bossypants’. It’s smart and funny, just like her (of course it would be, it’s a memoir!) I got to read an actual TV script in that book, so that was like an icing on the cake for me. I haven’t read many but of all I have, this is the second best memoir that I have ever read (the first being Angela’s ashes by Frank McCourt).

Since Booker Prize for 2012 is going to be announced soon, I got around reading the winner of last year – ‘the sense of an ending’. I don’t even know why I still attempt to read and like these prize winners, especially Booker ones. Barring a few, they often are pedantic, a little distant, and this one made me refer to the dictionary more than I like while reading a book (which is never). But whatever said, you have to love the humor of British authors, even if it’s a tad dark. There is a letter somewhere midway of this book, a sort of plot-revealatory letter, and it made me laugh for five minutes straight, which bodes well for any book  I am trying hard to like.

That’s all.

I am quite happy with my reading this year, considering the amount of TV I watch. For the next few months, I will be mostly re-reading a few books (yes, I do that!), raiding my book shelf for a few new ones and reading every single word Sartre ever wrote. Every reader has an author which makes her feel most vulnerable and yet is hard to put down, and mine is Jean-Paul Sartre. I won’t ever be same as the reader I was.

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