Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Best Short Stories of Fyodor Dostoevsky & Perumbadavam Sreedharan's 'Oru Sankeerthanam Pole'

When I read 'Crime and Punishment' some time back it took me a while to get Raskolnikov out of my system. I can't always read a book like that as it can bring you down some. It goes without question that Dostoevsky was a gifted writer and well versed in the workings of the human mind especially if it was a deprived life.

It took me some time to finish all the stories in the book. I enjoyed every single one of them except 'Notes from the Underground'. Could not read it at all as I couldn't make head or tail out of what he was trying to say. The best are probably 'White Knight' and 'Honest Thief'. I don't presume to critique such an esteemed author's stories. So I'll just say the ones I liked were wonderful and the one that I couldn't, well, I just didn't get it. Read more about the book here. One reviewer has notes on each of the stories in the book.

Why bring in Perumbadavam Sreedharan when talking about the great Dostoevsky? Why not will be a more appropriate response. I remember reading his 'Anthiveyilile Ponnu' most likely in Mathrubhoomi magazine and being thoroughly impressed by the newness of his expressions and the strength of his writing. So when I went to browse in a bookstore in Kerala a few years back I didn't hesitate to buy 'Oru Sankeerthanam Pole'. It turns out that Perumbadavam has great respect for Dostoevsky and wrote this book as something he just had to. It is the story of the young and hapless Dostoevsky and a girl called Anna who came to help him with the writing of his novels. Anna became his wife. It is said that she had been the great love of Dostoevsky. Too many greats eh? Can't help it. Anyway the book is pretty good and I think reading 'Sankeerthanam' made me understand and appreciate most of the short stories in the first book. So if you come across either of these books, go for it. Don't forget to read the foreword by Perumbadavam if you get his book. He is described as the writer with God's signature on his heart. This is Dostoevsky's description too. I don't know about that but one thing is true. You will not fail to be impressed by this writer. Not sure if any English translations exist but that would be quite an event! Read more on Perumbadavam here , here and here.

A Tag

Tagged By reflections.

I am: who i am

I think: sometimes

I know: some things

I want: a library

I have: no library

I wish: to be among family

I hate: sloppiness

I miss: my extended family

I fear: fear

I feel: calm

I hear: two little voices clamoring

I smell: boiled ripe banana. just steamed it!

I crave: ripe mango from one of the mango trees that is not there anymore

I search: myself

I wonder: about the way the world works!

I regret: regrets

I ache: when i fall

I am not: sad

I dance: sometimes

I sing: in silence

I cry: when i feel like it

I don't always: cry

I fight: with none

I write: in greeting cards

I win: sometimes

I lose: memories

I never: read a harry potter book

I always: brush my teeth

I confuse: myself

I listen: to music

I can usually be found : with a book in hand

I need: books

I am happy about: the clear blue sky

I imagine: rain falling outside

I tag anyone who'd like to take this up.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Town - Conrad Richter

Another trip to the library yielded this splendid book.

It is a fictionalized history of the early settlers and the towns they built after coming to the "new world". This the third in a trilogy and Richter won the Pulitzer prize in 1951 for it. 'The Trees' and 'The Fields' are the other two books. I have not read those, but there was no loss of continuity. The story revolves around a daughter of the founder of a small town called Moonshine. Sayward and her many children and their future is intertwined with the growth of the town in this book.

The language is deep and nostalgic and if you live far from home or were interested in family tree sort of stuff like me then this will ring a bell. Go here for some info and here to browse more.