Life seems to have changed a bit. Lately, I am not spending more than an hour on social media everyday. I now work in an organisation where employees have no access to Internet. While I missed reading Facebook posts, and seeing pictures of adorable animals for the first couple of days, now I reckon it is cathartic to stay away from Internet. When I was a journalist, my schedule was erratic, my routine was haywire, deadlines were pressing, and there was so much stress. Now that I am employed at a corporate company, I am beginning to find a rhythm. It feels great to pause and slow down. 🙂 Maybe, EB White was right when he wrote in Charlotte’s Web, “Never hurry and never worry!”
I have been reading for a couple of hours everyday. Although I miss binging, I am managing to be regular. My only complaint is that I don’t find enough time to write these days. But as Michael Crichton mentioned in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way!” I hope. 🙂
This month, after Neverwhere, I read a couple of books of my favourite authors – Talkative Man by RK Narayan and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Talkative Man is one among 10 books that I bought at my local library’s clearance sale (a blog here). The edition that I managed to acquire was printed in 1986, and it has got some lovely illustrations by RK Laxman. But, I was more excited for the book is older than me. 😉
Talkative Man – the shortest novel of the author – is not quite RK Narayan. The protagonist, fondly called TM by the fascinating people of Malgudi, is not obnoxiously talkative. I found the other citizens of Malgudi more talkative than him. TM – a bachelor who doesn’t have to work – is a freelance reporter. When all is well with his life, he meets a suspicious man from Timbuctoo, and lets him share his roof for a while. A woman claiming to be the mysterious man’s wife camps at Malgudi’s railway station, and seeks TM’s help to reunite with her husband. TM finds himself in a tight spot. Should he save his charming friend from an overbearing wife? Or should he help a woman find her husband? When he makes a choice, the plot unfolds in a Wodehousian manner.
I love RK Narayan’s books. Despite being the writer’s fan, I didn’t smile often when I read Talkative Man. The story ended before it could draw me in. Sadly, the book didn’t offer the deep sigh that one heaves after reading the last page. I only thought: Was it really RK Narayan? On the other hand, I don’t want to be too critical. Because, it was RK Narayan after all. 🙂 He was the one who gave me The English Teacher and A Tiger for Malgudi.
I love Neil Gaiman. I have mentioned it in many of my blogs. But, I must say again. I love Gaiman’s writing, and imagination. I often tell my friends if Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami and JK Rowling come to India, I will fly to whichever city they’d visit. 🙂 Gaiman didn’t disappoint in The Graveyard Book too. It took a little while for me to invest, but it was deeply satisfying at the end.
Not quite often does one meet friendly ghosts. As The Graveyard Book is replete with phantoms who are affectionate, hilarious, and thoughtful, the book seems more special to me. Of all the characters, my favourite is Silas. Although he is a stud of a guardian, there is something beautifully melancholic about Silas. A profound, enchanting story lies in him. Just like how I wished Gaiman could write a novel on the Hempstocks from The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I am eager to learn more about Silas.
Oh, I love Liza Hempstock from The Graveyard Book too. What a witch! Also, I want to have a real conversation with the poet Nehemiah Trot. He is incredibly witty and funny. 🙂
Gaiman seems to enjoy himself while writing his villains. The man Jack is as interesting as Croupe and Vandemar from Neverwhere. And, this time too, Gaiman’s reflections on memories, and the need to let go are riveting. Thus, I have hopelessly fallen in love with another children’s book this year after Charlotte’s Web, Coraline, and Dogsbody.
Some favourite passages from The Graveyard Book:
I enjoyed quite a few, and I have listed all of it. Sorry about the length. 🙂
You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.
“Name the different kinds of people,” said Miss Lupescu. “Now.” Bod thought for a moment. “The living,” he said. “Er. The dead.” He stopped. Then, “… Cats?” he offered, uncertainly.
People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer.
Things bloosom in their time. They bud and bloom, blossom and fade. Everything in its time.
Fear is contagious. You can catch it. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to say that they’re scared for the fear to become real.
He would go somewhere no one knew him, and he would sit in a library all day and read books and listen to people breathing.
There were people you could hug, and then there was Silas.
It’s not irrelevant, those moments of connection, those places where fiction saves your life. It’s the most important thing there is.