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Famous Novels Penned in about a Month

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Seasoned authors will often tell you that starting work on a novel is easy. What’s difficult is finishing it. And that’s because, as you plough your way through your story, creating and eliminating characters and weaving tales of delight and dread, self-doubt, laziness, boredom and a host of other evils destroy your motivation and attention levels. That’s why, instead of spending decades on their novels, some smart authors chose to give themselves just a month to finish their book. Did this mean that they compromised on the quality of the work? Not at all! In fact, their novels have enjoyed a cult status, becoming the most read works of our times. Here are some novels that were penned in little over a month.

On The Road – Jack Kerouac

Although Jack Kerouac spent many years travelling through America, all the while noting down his memorable experiences, he took just three weeks to compile his notes and feelings into this long, adventurous read! He wrote the draft of the book on a 120 foot long piece of teletype paper which he created by sticking numerous sheets together.

on the road

A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle

This book is special because it introduced our favourite detective to us for the first time – the svelte, suave and shrewd Sherlock Holmes. Mr. Doyle, however, took just three weeks to create this fine piece of fiction, problem, solution and all!

The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas – John Boyne

While telling this story of a young Jewish boy living through the Holocaust, the Irish novelist says that he was so absorbed in his tale that he kept writing without a break for two and half days, and finished the novel! He didn’t even stop to eat or sleep!

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

This book gave birth to one of the most famous villains of our time – Scrooge. Yes, that grumpy, grouchy, miserly man who cared for nothing but money. The story of his transformation is heartening and loved by youngsters and adults alike. However, it didn’t take Dickens long to weave this cautionary tale, for he finished the book in just six weeks!

christmas

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

This novel was adapted into a film by the same name. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, it went on to become a critically acclaimed movie, especially loved by the freethinkers of our world. But, the author never imagined the level of success and fame his book would enjoy. In fact, he admits that he wrote the book in just three weeks and did it only because he needed the money!

Well, this just goes to show that the time taken to finish a work has very little impact on its quality. You don’t have to cook up a story that will take decades to write. Even a simple, relatable plot is enough to garner attention. So, what are you waiting for? Get to work on that idea you’ve been wanting to write about immediately!

Looking for a quiet, calm place to write? Head to QTube Café, one of the most unique cafes in Mumbai. Not only can you sit there for hours for free, you get to guzzle on cups of coffee, which are also handed out for free!

Greasing the Wheels of Love with Words

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Warning: The love we’re talking about here is the fiery and passionate kind, the type proudly labelled ‘Romantic Love.’ No “Love you like a friend” nonsense shall be alluded to. Tread carefully.

After watching the brilliant Marathi movie, Sairat, we were inspired to meditate on this complex and consuming emotion called love. Yes, that all-powerful emotion, notorious for making the wisest man abandon wisdom and imparting, even to the most foolish, a startling amount of insight and understanding. Why does it wield the power it does, making the world go round or stand still as per its whims? More importantly, what exactly is love, or rather, how does one know one is in love? Does it feel like the cold shock of a morning shower, or is it more insidious, creeping up on you when you least expect it? Or perhaps it’s like a Jack-in-the-box, springing out at you with such gusto, it makes you want to scream, or scram. Well, it’s hard to find answers to these questions. Generations of brilliant minds have turned these queries over in their brilliant heads, and yet, have been unable to come up with unanimous answers. If anything, they’ve only been able to give us their understanding of love, which is coloured by their experience of it. Perhaps that is why we find so much matter on this emotion, for by eluding definition, it throws open a plethora of understandings for us to explore. Here are some poems that do their bit to make sense of this mystifying emotion.

wikinewsindia

Image courtesy: wikinewsindia

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart) – E.E Cummings

We might recognize this poem as the one read by Maggie Feller to her sister, Rose, in the movie ‘In Her shoes.’  Because of its depth and lyrical quality, this poem is quite the lover’s favourite. What is also interesting about this poem, however, is the manner in which it is written. The poet deliberately places the sentences with endearments within parenthesis, such that they are carried inside the lines of the poem, much like his lover’s heart!

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

Another Valentine – Wendy Cope

This smartly written poem is perfect for those in long-term relationships. Having felt and done it all before, the poet is quite blasé about Valentine’s Day, But, as she thinks and talk about this day, romantic feelings begin to creep and she can’t help but get mushy and affectionate with her valentine.

Today we are obliged to be romantic

And think of yet another valentine.

We know the rules and we are both pedantic:

Today’s the day we have to be romantic.

Our love is old and sure, not new and frantic.

You know I’m yours and I know you are mine.

And saying that has made me feel romantic,

My dearest love, my darling valentine.

Valentine – Carol Ann Duffy

In this poem, the poet calls a spade a spade. She isn’t starry-eyed about love, for she knows that it can be an incredibly difficult emotion. She also knows that love can hurt and the pain can stay for a long, long time, just like the odour of an onion. If you’re a realist and avoid soppy saying like the plague, this love poem is for you.

Here’s a snippet from the poem-

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.

It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.

It promises light

like the careful undressing of love.

Here.

It will blind you with tears

like a lover.

It will make your reflection

a wobbling photo of grief.

To his coy mistress – Andrew Marvell

This is probably one of the most flirtatious poems you’ll ever come across. Despite the very overt sexual advances the speaker seems to be making to his mistress, we can still see the truth in his words and this, combined with his wit and directness, make him probably one of the most endearing and persuasive speakers in the history of poems! If you’re trying to win over the affections of a rather shy person, this is the poem to read to him or her.

Read the full poem here: To His Coy Mistress

A Drinking Song – W.B. Yeats

Just six lines long and rather simple in content and form, you might think that the poem cannot take on this weighty and complex emotion. But, it does, simply and beautifully. Just like falling in love.

Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That’s all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth,

I look at you, and I sigh.

Well, we hope these poems help you draw your own understanding of love, well if not, at least you now have some fab lines to use on your next/on going crush.

P.S: Poetry makes good pick up lines.

Exploring the Work of the Obscure Genius Sadaat Hasan Manto

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Although academics has exposed young literature enthusiasts to the works of several gifted Indian writers, it’s unfortunate that the work of one particularly perceptive writer has been conveniently and purposely omitted from syllabuses. Perhaps that’s because he isn’t Indian but a Pakistani; or because the topic he writes extensively on is more uncomfortable than his nationality – The Partition of 1947. We’re talking about the controversial short story writer Sadaat Hasan Manto. Manto was a writer and playwright who used his talents to explore and expose human nature under dire circumstances. He drew inspiration from the stories he seen unfolding around him, during and after the partition, as well as from his own experience. His plot lines are bold and he often touch upon subjects that were considered too sensitive to be written about. ‘Khol Do’ and ‘Thanda Gosht’ are brilliant examples of his courageous writing. Unfortunately, his frank treatment of such topics led to him being tried for obscenity six times and this, along with the social stigmatization he experienced, caused him to hit the bottle and eventually lose his life at the young age of 42. However, his legacy lives on till today through his work and is read not just by Pakistanis or Indians, but by all those who wish to understand better the impact one of the most tragic chapters in our nation’s history had on the people of those times, through an honest, upfront and ballsy storyteller.

It’s difficult to do justice to the genius of this writer in such a short article, but we can celebrate his intelligence and wit by revisiting some of his profound sayings. To fulfill that purpose, and to celebrate his birthday (11th May, 1912) we present 6 of his most powerful quotes.

Manto

On the partition. The strength of this observation is, however, felt even today.

“Hindustan had become free. Pakistan had become independent soon after its inception but man was still slave in both these countries — slave of prejudice … slave of religious fanaticism … slave of barbarity and inhumanity.”

His rumination on the capriciousness of life and the powerlessness of the individual.

“For me, remembrance of things past has always been a waste of time, and what’s the point of tears? I don’t know. I’ve always been focussed on today. Yesterday and tomorrow hold no interest for me. What had to happen, did, and what will happen, will.”

Even during the years when patriarchy was an unquestioned norm, Manto stood up for women and questioned society for its hypocrisy.

“A man remains a man no matter how poor his conduct. A woman, even if she were to deviate for one instance, from the role given to her by men, is branded a whore. She is viewed with lust and contempt. Society closes on her doors it leaves ajar for a man stained by the same ink. If both are equal, why are our barbs reserved for the woman?”

Manto takes a dig at the self-appointed custodians of the nation’s ‘honor.’

“We’ve been hearing this for some time now — Save India from this, save it from that. The fact is that India needs to be saved from the people who say it should be saved.”

Manto tells you what it feels like to be an honest writer.

‘In that sense, I don’t consider myself a writer so much as a pick-pocket. One who picks his own pocket and hands over its contents to you. Have you ever seen such a fool as me?’

Manto’s touching understanding of one of the most powerful emotions we are capable of experiencing – love.

“But love, whether in Multan or on Siberia’s icy tundra, whether in the winter or the summer, whether among the rich or the poor, whether among the beautiful or the ugly, whether among the crude or refined, love is always just love. There’s no difference.”