Completed reading 'A Summer in Paris' by Abha Davesar finally. I bought the book at a Meet-the-Author event organized by Akshara Book Store at an Art Gallery in Domalguda, Hyderabad some years ago. Abha is also an artist and her paintings and sketches were on exhibition and sale as well. If I remember right, she read parts of her book Babyji, in which there are no names for characters. I found the idea quite mindboggling - well worth a try for experimentation if you have publishers backing you. I remember asking her if it was difficult writing it like that and she said she had absolutely no doubts about the process. I was pretty impressed.
I went to pick up her books. I asked her which one of the three novels she'd recommend, and she suggested 'A Summer in Paris'. I remember reading a review of this book and got a signed copy from her. I never got down to reading it until now though.
A Summer in Paris
Abha writes well but leaves me with a feeling that she can write better if the subjects challenged her more. The story of 'A Summer in Paris' failed to connect to me. It is the story of Prem Rustam, a 75 year old Nobel prize winner for literature (and all other prizes that famous writers can get) and his wanting (or wondering is he could) to bed a younger woman. He meets young twenty something Maya at an online dating site; she is a huge fan of his and has read all his works, is single, sexually active with a string of lovers. After a while in the virtual space, they meet in the physical space and - nothing happens. They meet in museums, exhibitions, music concerts and show off how much they know about art, food etc but get nowhere in terms of physical proximity. On and on it goes, as we understand why Rustam is like that; because of his incestuous relationship with his sister and his constant worry (or pride) that his nephew could actually be his own son. Something that I as a reader could not care less but something if I was Rustam would surely have a gut feel about.
I found the romance insipid. I found the sex unfeeling, cold and aged. I also find this constant reference to incestuous sex by Indian authors (Abha, Arundhati Roy and Rak Kamal Jha) worrisome - is this something that happens on a large scale in India? How come I have not heard so much about it? Or is it that only these big writers are privy to this information? Or is it that publishers find these themes very interesting and saleable? I skimmed through the last fifty or so pages without any remorse, just enough to figure out what's happening, and got out of the book. The diaries that the old man had supposedly written about sex 'for himself' and gifted to Maya could have been more interesting and honest, than all this. Someone like Anita Nair could have exploited such a theme more honestly and daringly.
Taken - Liam Neeson
Watched 'Taken' starring Liam Neeson on Star Movies last night. Great action viewing for me. I did not ever look at Liam Neeson as an action hero and was pleasantly surprised to see his stunt sequences looking so good, so quick that I just about registered what happened. I like the screenplay which was so taut that except for one moment in which my cynical mind thought 'ok, so where are we heading from here', it kept me hooked for every single moment.
Neeson, an ex-American agent with one of those agencies, has 'some very special skills'. Currently out of the force, he works part time with a security force for a high profile singer. He also has a broken marriage, and a daughter out of that marriage who he loves and wants to bind with. The daughter, a 17 year old, wants to go to Paris on art appreciation tour with her friend rather wild friend Amanda, and needs his signature to permit her going out of the country. Though uncomfortable (I know the world), he signs after some pressure from his ex-wife and daughter with conditions that she call him after she lands, call every night etc. Of course he finds out far too late that she is actually going on a trip to follow U2 across Europe. Anyway, the girl gets kidnapped soon after arrival and just about gives enough information over the phone to her father to set him off in search of her. How he tracks her down in the window of 96 hours before she can completely disappear in the women trafficking ring is what the rest of the story is about.
Enjoyed myself thoroughly.