Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I watched the most tragic Love Story today. The movie “Vanilla Sky”. I had the DVD for a long time. But I had read & heard a lot about it and was not ready to see it at all. I watched the movie today and the Love is as beautiful as no one can imagine.
The star cast of Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, etc. are wonderful – great acting. And more importantly brilliant direction by the veteran filmmaker Cameron Crowe.
I have no words to describe it.
The movie is so beautiful, I don’t ever want to see it again.
I don’t know if you would want to see a tragic Love Story. It is not recommended. It is just something you do when you are at that moment in Life. I would dare say, it is better than even Shakespeare’s Othello.
BTW: I especially loved it that the protagonist had an interest in Bob Dylan, even if it was just the cover of the Rock Legend’s album.
“Open Your Eyes”
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Anecdotes - Autobiography - Biography
What is it that you look for in books about real people ?
By Ujjwal Dey
I recently read an extract in a newspaper of the new biography on life and reign of Pakistani dictator General Zia ul Haq - "A Case of Exploding Mangoes" by Mohammed Hanif. Published by Knopf, it certainly seems like a prestigious publication, probably sensible and trendy thing to have read.
But in the extract that I read in the newspaper, the personal life of the General is also looked down upon along with his dictatorship. I was put off simply not because of this biased view but also the fact that the Author probably cannot produce hard evidence to support his biography.
The Author recounts events from the General's wedding night and the night/dawn when the General threw a coup and installed himself as Head of State. The conversation either of the bedroom or of the meeting of Army Generals after the coup couldn’t possibly be anything but either gossip or speculation. The author writes well. But he couldn't possibly say, as factual, these conversations/relationships occurred as the book says it did. He wouldn't be allowed access into Pakistani military meeting transcriptions nor was he present at the meeting.
Of course also we have seen others capitalise on the dead people who have no say on their caricatured biographies. We know especially of the over-a-dozen biographies on Princess Diana, done solely to profit in the hip pop cultural trend of snooping and hounding that woman.
This ends my discourse on why I see no purpose in reading Biographies at all.
Anecdotes and especially those in an Autobiography are enchanting, intriguing, interesting and fascinating.
Anecdotes may occur in Biographies, but they hold no interest to me.
In an Autobiography, the Author may choose to embellish, boast, or present things as is - this last of which can be very entertaining if you pick the right Autobiography of the well-lived Author.
I still re-read for quotes the book "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Sri Paramahansa Yogananda. It has mind-blowing metaphysical anecdotes and some great endless sea of quotations to ponder on. Thought-provoking as well as entertaining. The language is old English of the 1900s of his time and yet you cruise through it due to the wonderful contents. It is available for free at Project Gutenberg.
Another anecdote filled Autobiographical book is my recent acquisition - "At Ease: Stories I tell my friends" by the late President Dwight Eisenhower. The book’s title is self-explanatory. It is full of interesting moments in his life and ever since I read an extract in Reader's Digest 5 months ago, I have been hankering to find this Out-of-Print book. Finally got the 1967 First Edition and am reading it very carefully to avoid damage to the old hardcover book.
You may not have heard of Dev Anand. He is the now 80 year-old "evergreen" Romantic-Movie Hero of yesteryears Indian Cinema. The actor has some great Black&White movies to his credit.
Now this book is very much boastful of his lifestyle. In the Introduction itself he admits that these "boastful" elements are in fact his positive outlook on everything. Especially he is very much confident and positive about himself and that is what, he says, has propelled him from a village-boy in pre-partition India to a Superstar actor in the 1950's, 60's and 70's.
So as a devout fan I did buy the Hardcover First Edition and indeed the book has an incredible range of anecdotes which show his zest for life, love, cinema and world cultures.
It is his words and it is entertaining, so I love this Autobiography as well.
Now another one, which is in my to-be-read pile, is Isaac Asimov's Autobiography. I bought this as I thought that he was an exceptional Fiction Author and a man of science and also because I projected in my mind an image of him which said that he would remain true to facts and not indulge in petty stuff we see in common biographies/autobiographies. So I wanted to know his Life just as I was keen on Eisenhower's life and of Dev Anand's life. I hope it is as good as any other of his writings.
So there; that's some broad range of why I pick Anecdotal Autobiographies over anything else.
Why do you pick a Biography or Autobiography and what is it that you are looking for in it ? I certainly don't want a chronology of his/her yearly/monthly activities. Its a book after all, make it readable.