3 mistakes on my reading list ...

Does anyone remember the 'use this word in a sentence' portions in the ICSE Engish exams. I imagined our english teachers, either a) laughing uproariously or b) crying copiously (depending on their personalities) when grading these talented efforts.

Incidentally, I mucked up one of these sections. The word was 'cliche'. I misread it as 'clinch' (hold fast/make final/to embrace). Of course, I decided to use the lesser known latter meaning. I remember Rhett Butler making his appearance in that sentence. In my defense it was a timed exam and I exhibit poor judgement at the best of times (consider this a warning if you are ever sharing the road with this papaya and her papaya-mobile). It was only much, much later that the thought of the aged male lit teacher, let's call him GarrulousG, reading that sentence made me cringe ....

GarrulousG was one of those teachers who idolised English as the language of Shakespeare and Byron yada yada yada and once described the meaning of misogyny to the class with great relish. I forgot abt the exam soon enough, but it later became obvious that my innocent little sentence was the Hermione to his Malfoy (without using the obvious cliche here) ...

Came the day of the PTA meeting and Garrulous triumphantly pulls out my exam, handling it like a potential anthrax carrier. I saw a section of the paper marked all through with red and my face started achieving a similar hue. Garrulous read The Sentence out loud to my father and spat out the fatal words 'This is what comes of reading too many novels', following this obscure observation (I mean, what comes??) with a lecture on inculcating good reading habits (like good vanilla, ever notice how a reading habit always needs a qualification), describing a book-arrest of sorts for me, all blaringly delivered for the benefit of scores of interested classmates and their bored parents.

That I was largely unscathed (only my reading choices affected and often accompanied by guilt for about a decade) was all due to DearDad. Peeping at him, I saw polite interest and was joyfully relieved. That expression on his face meant Garrulous could have had a background track of crickets chirping and Dad wouldnt have known the difference, he was antsy over G wasting his time when he could have been speaking with the REAL teachers, the Math and Science ones that is ... and I was going to be allowed to continue with my very own reading habit, be it a good one or a BAD one.

I did learn though never to skim over any exam questions ..... and to think twice before I got carried away on the tide of my own cleverness :S

Anyway, the only reason this memory popped into my head was because I started reading The Duke by Gaelen Foley. It's best described as Hollywood Cliche Central. Authors making use of obvious cliches is a no-no at the best of times, what do you say when readers have apparently lapped up this book? Yes, You, Amazon-Reviewer-Who-Gushingly-Gave-This-5-Stars, I'm talking about You. Lovers bellowing names anguishedly outside windows. Soulful gazing into each other's eyes at a dance while the world blurs away. The sudden realisation of love and running feverishly into someone's arms followed by a make-out session. A white horse and a proposal. Didnt horses in a romance go out with Lochinvar?? Stopped reading.

Next, I read Elyza by Clare Darcy. Every conceit Heyer ever used made it's appearance in the first few pages. Stopped reading.

Brick Lane by Monica Ali was my attempt at tempering all the lighter stuff I was reading. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003. To someone unfamiliar with London, Brick Lane is to Bangladeshis what Southall is to the Punjabis (or Chinatown is to the Chinese :). The book has been made into a movie starring Satish Kaushik, and I was really looking forward to reading it.

Now, I cannot review this book since I didnt complete it, I just sped-read through and skimmed over other parts (never said the skimming was entirely useless) so I have a basic idea of the story. I couldnt really get into the author's writing style and while I was hoping for a portrayal of the Bangladeshi immigrant community, the book is more concerned with the life of the protagonist, Nazneen, who marries a man twice her age and settles down with him in Brick Lane. All very dull and dreary. I laughed (in disbelief) when a Bangladeshi mid-wife is described as being so hungry she could have eaten the baby she delivered, the single light (?) spot in a depressing narrative.

Gah! 3 lousy reads in as many days. I think, tonight, I'll paint my nails instead.

12 comments:

avdi said...

Somehow I never did like the Man Booker lists.. Mayb the judges and I have different tastes.

Avionic Spanker said...

Funny, I can't seem to forget my crafts teacher who was particularly adept at focusing on my poor Origami skills .. I played Neville to his Severus (resorting to the usual cliche, with ur permission)

I wouldn't read any book that was remotely linked connected to Satish Kaushik in any way, but thats just me.

Smita said...

:) I had once sold my cycle fo Rs. 60. Thankfully It was my maths exam only & had eaten up few zeroes in calculation :D

So many bad books are bad for your eyes. Try the shopaholic series. am 4.5 down 1.5 more to go.

Mama - Mia said...

:D

i got REALLY scared that you picked up Chetan Bhagat's latest!! phew!!

ok! these ones turned out duds too, but you didnt pick em KNOWING they would be duds! which would be the case with CB! :p

post was a great read anywayz!!

cheers!

abha

couchpapaya said...

avdi - yeah the english patient was like nails-on-chalkboard wasnt it ?? will read the desai book and make up my mind whether to dredge out any more booker lists or not ...

spanker - tsk teachers !!! as for SK, u might just be right, i know i wont watch this one .... i do feel sad for him tho, how does it feel to be cast for a character who looks like a toad? the author's description not mine.

couchpapaya said...

smita - i did read the kinsella book i told u about. it was fun ...

abha - me pick up CB??? kabhi nahiiiinnnn lol but it wont stop me from stealing his titles hehe thanks abha!!

Mama - Mia said...

:)

pls to pick up an award when you awake and blogging! :D

cheers!

abha

mystiquedew said...

Only 3?

Bravo! :D

couchpapaya said...

avdi - ghosh just got nominated for sea of poppies, there goes ur theory :)

couchpapaya said...

abha - thankee much ... busy these days! will pick up sooon :D

ms.dew - 3 recent i shld say :D

Bouncing-Bubble said...

I was tempted to pick "Brick Lane", but didn't guess hv done the right thing..

couchpapaya said...

bubbles - it's all so subjective isnt it. just before posting i came across a literary essay on how great brick lane was. i mean an essay !!!! i didnt like the writing style, but dont treat mine as an absolute recco .....

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