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Recent Reading

I purchased Julian Barnes "The Sense of an Ending" for my Kobo, having forgotten that I'd read another work of his over the summer, "Arthur and George". This didn't matter. I'd enjoyed the earlier one, though it had not especially endeared me to the author. "The Sense of an Ending" is a different sort of book, though there are similarities of style. One affects a biographical style; the other an autobiographical style, I suppose. "The Sense of an Ending" has a harder edge on it, as books by British writers often do. Now, thinking of it again, I realize that it didn't leave a strong lasting impression. There are writers whose books sear themselves into my memory; other writers who I keep going back to even though I don't remember well the storylines or details of their novels; and then there are writers who I remember with distaste because I occasionally recall certain meaningless ugly details they have deliberately planted in order to disturb the reader. Barnes didn't quite make it to this latter category, with me, but seemed to be aiming for it.

On my phone I finished "Office Girl" by Joe Meno, which has a fresh, indy style and lots of atmosphere. It wasn't a bad read. Set in a snowy Chicago winter. I started it in the summer and went back to it when the weather got cooler.

I've also been reading Ali Abunimah's "One Country" which is well-written and persuasive, and completed an autobiographical manuscript by a person living in my community. But mainly now I'm reading Sonia Faleiro's "Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars", a non-fiction book by a Mumbai-based journalist and writer. It's written, probably, for Indians or people with a deeper than usual familiarity with India: Occasionally I realize that I didn't quite "get" something. I don't completely trust Faleiro. Sometimes I feel that she has put words into the mouths of her characters, like: "'When you look at my life,' she taught me, don't look at it beside yours. Look at it beside the life of my mother and her mother and my sister-in-law who have to take permission to walk down the road...'". That seems a bit too eloquent for Leela, the dance girl. But is it my own hidden sense of cultural superiority that makes me suspect that?

And I find myself wondering about style. Is it really necessary to change the spelling of "kustomer" when this appears in speech? Does that add something, such as a special, localized meaning of the word? The repeated phrases or sentences in Hindi (I'm not sure that I can properly differentiate it from Marathi), which are sometimes, though not consistently, explained become tiresome, though they would not for those who understand them. Te book may be a bit of an unpolished diamond, though is certainly important and interesting. And "interesting" doesn't quite say it.

If I start to give more time to my reading, I may begin to look at more indy writers who publish their books on the internet without DRM or copyright. I find this approach very attractive. Cory Doctorow seems to have hit on a good formula, where payment is optional.