Archive for October, 2010

10/29/2010 ~ Deliverance : Gauri Deshpande (Translated by Shashi Deshpande)

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Deliverance, first published in Marathi as Nirgathi, is a strikingly unusual novel, a powerful story about the turbulent relationships within a family that chafes at being bound together by intensely close ties. A novel about mothers and daughters, and about motherhood, told with painful and disturbing honesty.

Mimi and Shami are half-sisters who share a mother (the narrator) and a conflicted relationship with her second husband. As the story progresses, all four go through rites of passage that leave them emotionally scarred, yet more closely bound to each other than ever before. Mimi and Shami grow up, grow away from their parents, find fulfilment in alien environments. The narrator and her husband realign their lives, physically and emotionally, in an all-too-familiar, poignant response. The novel’s shocking but inevitable denouement confronts one of the fundamental truths of all human bonds, even as it brings deliverance.

Gauri Deshpande (1942-2003) bilingual poet, essayist and short story writer in Marathi and English, has been published   extensively in both languages. Her fluency in them has earned her the reputation of a translator par excellence, one of her most outstanding works being the translation into Marathi of the 16 volumes of Sir Richard Burton’s The Arabian Nights. Her collections of poetry include Between Births (1968); Lost Love (1970); and Beyond the Slaughterhouse (1972). Among her prose works are The Lackadaisical Sweeper (1997), and the English translation of  Manohar Tari.

Shashi Deshpande, novelist and short story writer, has nine short story collections, ten novels, a book of essays and four children’s books to her credit. Three of her novels have received awards, including the Sahitya Akademi award for That Long SilenceSmall RemediesMoving On and In the Country of Deceit are her most recent novels. Her short stories and novels have been translated into a number of Indian as well as many European languages, and she has translated two plays by Adya Rangacharya, eminent  Kannada writer, as well as his memoirs, into English.

Published by Women Unlimited India, Rs.225, available December 2010.

10/22/2010 ~ ReADING

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

I recently had a conversation with a friend about a certain e-reader. I had just bought one, she was thinking about getting one as a gift for her husband who is an avid reader. We talked and talked, or rather, I talked and talked. About my total delight in the e-reader’s book carrying capacity, in its portability, about my access to the entire Gutenberg Project library for free, in being able to download classics for as little as 99 cents and often free… and imagine my awe when I downloaded a book, at the beach, and start reading it – as soon as I was told I was a disgrace because I’d never read it! (The Metamorphosis, 99 cents, and now I wish I had stayed a disgrace. It is horrifying.)

My friend eventually chickened out of surprising her husband with an e-reader and asked him if he wanted one. He told her he was much happier with “real” books from the bookstore or library, thank you, he didn’t want to put librarians and book store workers out of work. Plus, he enjoyed the feel and smell of books. All this was not that different from the way I felt before I got my own e-reader. Although I wondered about my friend’s husband worrying about the livelihood of librarians over the preservation of pines, I bought my e-reader for a reason not connected to ecology and empathy: My two books now had online  kindle editions. I discovered that I made a lot more from a download than from the sale of a “real” copy of my book.  Ten times as much (three dollars vs thirty cents). So it makes me feel very happy when I have that rare sale. And then I wonder what resources go into the making of a “real” book that makes my share so paltry – the cost of cutting trees, the payrolls of paper industry and publishing house employees? (And as I write this, I have a thought: I’m going to ask my friend’s husband if he has an email account, or if he still writes and receives “real” letters due to his concern over the payroll of postal workers.)

My pitch to my friend was so heartfelt that she  asked me if I was getting a commission for selling this particular e-reader. Which gave me the idea. This is one product I wouldn’t mind selling. Not door to door, but from my website! The more people have e-readers, the larger the market for my own books, after all. Which explains the picture and link on this post.

Now if you were to ask me if I care that much about selling copies of my book, I’m not so sure of the answer. It’s hard to decide whether I want to be a bestselling writer or a starving artist true to my art… you know, poor but sexy like the city of Berlin… I might be stuck with the Berlin option because – it’s just not my choice to make – as I’ve commented before, three downloads last month, a grand total of nine dollars and change! Which also explains the picture and link on this post?

10/19/2010 ~ Scheduled for Deletion

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

This morning I realized that I had only ‘deactivated’ my personal Facebook account, not deleted it. When I was deactivating it, I was asked, a bit threateningly I felt, “are you sure?” and below that were photos of people who would miss me if I wasn’t on Facebook – my son and my sister. I guess my son and my sister will have to find other ways to not miss me – such as have dinner with me or wash my hair for me! Sounds like fun. Anyway, that’s done. I received an email saying “Account Scheduled for Deletion” – it waits on death row. I can, however, grant it a pardon within the next fourteen days. I won’t. It deserves to die.

I do have a professional FB page however. I am a writer, and FB is useful to me as a tool for letting those interested know what’s new in my writing life, and for putting my work out there, and as a way for people to contact me. For these purposes, I am willing and happy to have and use all and any tools available, on and off the internet. So now, I have a website, a professional Facebook page, a blog that I regularly update, and both my books available for download on Kindle to whatever device you might own or want to read on – the Kindle itself, Mac, pc, blackberry, iphone, ipad… really, whatever. After all this, since the day my books went live on Amazon, I have sold less than $40.00 worth of books. Yes, forty dollars. So I just wonder if it’s worth it. It’s always worth it to write – I love to write, it’s who I am. But is it worth it to try so hard to get it all out there? Maybe some day it will be. But not yet.

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. So I made this pink button for Facebook, since they did not. Be aware, all you women, and all you men with moms, partners, friends, sisters and daughters out there. Be nice to breasts and breast owners, and contribute to the fight against breast cancer.

For those of you who are in Tallahassee ~ a fun way to help:

10/16/2010 ~ In the mines

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

– Bob Dylan, Things have changed

How many people a day are diagnosed with “mild-to-severe” depression? Don’t know, but some of us have always known we are on that list of what a friend of mine calls the walking dysfunctional. I’d call myself walking depressed, but I’m a lot more than walking – I’m laundry doing, dog walking, cat wrestling, curry making, child cheering, child rearing, child pick-up-and-drop-offing and drop-off and pick-upping (takes concentration and focus to remember this stuff- they call them schedules around here), grocery shopping, carpet vacuuming, porch sweeping, poo lifting, cock sucking… oh now come on, depressed people don’t do that, do they? Oh what, they don’t? oh well then. Well. Anyway. I’m writing Carnal Prose, remember, these things slip in.

I watched the 33 being reborn from the birth canal pierced through the skin and flesh of earth, she held them in her womb, dark and hot. Or was it a prison she had locked them into because they stole from her, again and again, tearing through her body and soul, wounding and killing her slowly by tearing off pieces they didn’t even need anymore…   I guess I’m being fanciful. They were just men, poor miners, with women and children. They worked hard for a hard living, and I was thrilled and moved to see that metal cylinder emerge from the ground with an intact human being in it. I cried.

Will these miners, having been as low in the depths as a man can get, always be happy now? will they forever after appreciate life and love and time, having come so close to being buried alive, and left slowly to die? Will they choose not to ever go again into the physical depths, but also the metaphorical ones? or is it not a matter of choice at all? do we all just succumb to life and chemicals? Serotonin, dopamine, melatonin? (Something comes to mind about free will, but I’ll let it go.) And, when it isn’t possible to keep up the look of function anymore, do we then go looking for some solution – a pill, an herb, a practice, love in changing times? It’s true, and gets truer every day – I used to care, but things have changed.

10/11/2010 ~ Bob Dylan, Tallahassee Fl.

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Bob Dylan is, as always, apocalyptic and epic and announces the end of the world. I feel times are not changing, they are almost gone. He tells me, “it’s going to end, and it’s going to end badly…”  Makes me want to hurry up and write, love, sleep, play, be. I have listened, sometimes unwillingly, to Dylan since I was seven. I was uncomfortable when I was younger and did not understand what he was talking about, I probably had an inkling of what I would understand when I did. Now that I do, I am even more uncomfortable. The moment he says, “how does it feeeel…” I tear up and break down.

I went to the Museum of Sex in New York city. My companion and I discovered that Hedy Lamarr’s were the first breasts seen on celluloid, and that eyes are not the only organs exaggerated to excess in Japanese cartoons. When I was much younger and spent some time in Japan, I remember thinking the Japanese cartoon characters were the only ones that bled. I’m not sure, but they may also be the only ones, or at least the first, to have sex.

There were sculptures and science exhibits (sexuality in animals) and funny stuff and kinky stuff and of course sexy stuff. I got to compare the body parts of the latex covered ‘real dolls’ to the real thing – from memory – the latex man was cool and a bit sweaty. He did nothing for me and my companion other than make us laugh.

My fourteen year old was not allowed in to the Museum of Sex. State law does not allow anyone under eighteen in. At seventeen you can enlist in the army with parental consent. So state law allows parents to decide if  kids can go out to kill or be killed. But their sex ed? The state decides the appropriate age for that.

And now, it’s back to work. I guess it will be inappropriate for my children to read my books. Maybe they will be sold in the Museum of Sex.