Posted in Of Bloggingly

Book Review: A Horse Walks Into A Bar

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A Horse Walks Into A Bar Cover

I want to try something new. I’m thinking of calling it Amrita’s ‘Wednesday Words of Wisdom’. These wouldn’t be rehashing some trite motivational quotes. No, Messieurs et Mesdames et Mesdemoiselles. These will be the hard-earned truth, laid brutally on your casual reading plate. Today’s words are: Never ask anybody what they think of you.

Just don’t. Not your friends, family, significant others, the universe or Quora. Trust me (though I may not be trustworthy), you don’t want to know. I used to ask this question all the time. I believed that’s where closeness lay. That space you want to occupy with a person where you feel you have surrendered your existence completely to them, usually initiated by some dose of flattery from you. When such a question is not about validating your existence, the relationship or even a shaping of your identity. In fact, I suggest you never ask yourself, what you think about yourself. Blissful ignorance of your personality is the only way to happiness, my friend.

David Grossman’s A Horse Walks Into A Bar (Man Booker International Prize winner, 2017) is a 200-page book about a roughly two-hour stand-up comedy show in Netanya, Israel. That sounds good already, for who wouldn’t love to read a book about a stand-up show happening in real-time? And it is a stand-up show, much more than some people give it credit for. It is certainly where comedy is headed, and is richly in the stand-up comedy ilk, if I may say so myself. It starts with the simple premise of an old school friend (the comedian) calling up another school friend (the retired judge) inviting him to a show when they are both in their late fifties, asking him to answer one question at the end of it – what does he think of him?

Stand-up comedians spend most of their time going over that question. At least, the good ones do. The others rely on cheap laughs by making cheap jokes about how expensive it can get to keep a wife. Avishai Lazar (the comedian) provides the audience periodically with that too, just when they start to lose interest in him talking about himself. Some of the jokes are better than the casual sexism of say, Jimmy Carr, but in a book littered with solid jokes, you never laugh. As Avishai disintegrates, telling the story of his life from his childhood, especially focusing on his refreshingly complex (instead of the standard, storytelling complex) relationship with his father, you never cry. Never has a book given you all you expected, witnessed you as you received it, and then left you unsure as to how you should respond. It is not your usual absurd fare, where you don’t know what you want to make of it all. It is your job to witness a comedy show, in which the comedian chooses this evening, where he is also witnessed by his friend, as his evening to bare-it-all, albeit as teasingly as possible.

Does that sound appetizing? Does that make your literary buds water, WordPress readers? Avishai would have asked you that question, and his pointedness about things (no matter that it takes him way too long to get to them) is what makes him worth the read. The judge, Dovaleh Greenstein, serves as narrator and the other significant speaking character, but his input, especially his insipid love life, serves little purpose for the revelation of Avishai. In fact, his handling of that promising but lethal question – what did he make of Avishai after all? – is also similarly lacklustre. Avishai spent much of his life walking on his hands (physical comedy is not just an unimaginative accessory for him as it is for other stand-up comedians. He’s been at it longer.), and that upside-down look at the world is what makes this novel totally off-centre.

 

Read my last short story/blog post called ‘Strange Attraction’:  https://ofopinions.com/2017/08/09/short-story-strange-attraction/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8134521.Amrita_Sarkar

Posted in Of Writingly

Short Story: Strange Attraction

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Cerulean Butterfly (Courtesy: Pixabay)

It started with a dedication. We were on holiday in France. It was my first time there, and we spent most of it stuck in a hotel room, on account of getting sick from some terrible, as well as terribly posh, food. Mum was taking care of me, my sister Janey and dad. She was the only one who didn’t get sick, the only one who’d been there so many times that she knew what not to do. She was watching this show on a French music channel called C’est Pop. The French clearly fail their imagination when it comes to naming pop music shows.

He was there, the only man my mother told my dad she’d leave him for. Continue reading “Short Story: Strange Attraction”

Posted in Of Musicals

Book Review: 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

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A Lad Insane: 2016 Edition

You can daydream with music … it takes you away and creates a new world. – Tim Buckley

I’ve always wondered about the word well-read, and by extension what could be called well-watched, or well-listened. How do we exactly cover all bases with these distinct areas of knowledge? Who decides what constitutes being well-listened? Am I well-listened if I can remember note for note all of Beethoven’s symphonies? Or am I well-listened if I say, “Megadeth makes my ears bleed. And I can confirm this because I’ve listened to ALL their albums, and they’ve consistently made me reach for fresh bandages.” Continue reading “Book Review: 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”

Posted in Of Psyche

Of Dancing

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Shakira, Shakira

Dance like no one’s watching. – Undetermined Wise Person

I was at a wedding recently. It was an extremely dull affair, no dancing, no nothing. My cousins and I got so bored, we escaped to find a room (next to the caterers no less) and decided to dance. Except, they were too shy, while I was off. One of them asked, “Where did you learn to belly dance?” I was so lost in it all that I didn’t even hesitate to answer truthfully, “Shakira, Shakira!” Continue reading “Of Dancing”

Posted in Of Dramedy

The thoughts of a millenial

Another review of Of Opinions – the book! If you’ve been thinking about picking up a copy (or reading the one you already own!), read on to find out more about it!

The Art Dive

amrita sarkar_of opinions“It is so intense, it makes you want to stay alive. To keep going. To keep chasing it or trying to make it last. We call it something indefinable that goes by the name of love, but, essentially, it is a puzzle we can’t work out. I’m not sure I’d want to work it out either.”—Amrita Sarkar, Of Opinions

Fellow WordPress blogger Amrita Sarkar of ofopinions.wordpress.com has expanded her blog posts into a book of the same name, Of Opinions. With thoughts ranging from beauty to emotion and memory, anxieties, and relationships and social media, this book is a map to how a gifted twenty-something experiences and judges the world.

The essays are a sort of distilled college compositions, imbued with the insights of a student who wants to own each thesis statement. While I would have preferred conversations structured by their antecedents, there’s an urgency and freshness in…

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