Sunday, February 22, 2009

Review deferred, and other sad stories

There are few things more annoying than spending the better part of a day (and a Sunday at that, not that there’s anything special about a Sunday if you’re a freelancer) writing a long review of a book, getting set to post it on the blog and then being told at the last possible minute by Mean Publisher Lady that there’s an embargo on reviews until a few weeks later, because she neglected to inform you about launch dates, exclusive arrangements with international media, etc. So it turns out I’m going to have to wait a while before sharing my thoughts about Aatish Taseer’s Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands. Will post it when I get the green light or when I’m sufficiently drunk to want to get Mean Publisher Lady sued by the international publishers.

Meanwhile things have been slow on the work front for various reasons and there's a big backlog of books to get through. Among them: Amit Chaudhuri’s The Immortals, Biman Nath’s Nothing is Blue, Rana Dasgupta’s Solo, Indu Sundaresan’s In the Convent of Little Flowers. Too many books, too little time. Through experience I’ve discovered that the thing to do is such a situation is to put all these books aside and instead direct your attention to something you definitely won’t be asked to review – like Noddy and the Magic Rubber. This is what I’ve successfully done, along with reading a randomly selected chapter of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (the one about how the high power distance index in countries like Korea is responsible for gruesome plane crashes because the first officer keeps nodding and smiling politely at the captain when he should be saying “You’ve missed the runway by three miles, you dolt!”).

Also, and I’m afraid I can’t provide further details, I woke yesterday morning from uneasy dreams to discover that I had mailed the following paragraph to someone who wanted a short synopsis of Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom:
A freelance photographer by day and a murderer of stockinged women by night, Mark’s modus operandi involves photographing his victims at the point of death. Soon we learn that this unusual personality trait developed because when he was a child his domineering father would torment him by dropping lizards on his bed. Not the best way to raise a child, as the grown-up Mark’s victims would no doubt agree, but then why raise a child at all? This film is the best condom ad you could hope for. Even better than Noddy and the Magic Rubber.
(More tales from the crypt soon)


  1. also pending -- your dev d review? i'm a bit puzzled by so much effusive praise for it, so quite curious to hear what you thought.

  2. "Will post it when I get the green light or when I’m sufficiently drunk to want to get Mean Publisher Lady sued by the international publishers."

    LOL,I hope Mean Publisher Lady doesn't reads JABBERWOCK

    btw joel spolsky has an excellent review of Outlier on his blog. do check it out .

  3. LOL,I hope Mean Publisher Lady doesn't reads JABBERWOCK

    Prashant: oh she'll see this post at some point, I'm sure - which is one reason why I've been relatively kind here.

    Anon: not reviewing Dev D. I loved the first half but thought the second half stretched on too much. Completely love the soundtrack, of course, and am glad that I had heard it for a week or so before I saw the film - which was time enough for the songs to get into my head. If I had gone into the film "cold" (that is, without being familiar with the music) I probably wouldn't have liked it much.

  4. "Peeping Tom is a condom ad."

    This feels all the more freaky because I saw Ichi the Killer yesterday, and from it's wiki link,

    Director Takashi Miike reveals on the US TokyoShock DVD release that the semen used in the close-up during the intro sequence, when the film's title raises out of a puddle of semen, is real. It was notably supplied by Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo) who plays the mastermind that controls Ichi. Miike gave a bucket to Tsukamoto to fill but was unable to provide enough material for the shot. He passed the bucket to three other crew members to add the remaining amount.

    Uh, it was left there by a peeping tom :). A literal one AND a similar one to our cinematic example.

  5. Also, about your 2nd half analysis of Dev D. Do not agree. At all.

    It should have stretched on a bit more.

    But well, good for opinions :)

  6. The whole point of blogging is to air what is "banned" in print. So go ahead and post your review of Taseer's book, and make it a long review full of quotations etc etc.
    thank you

  7. In the U. S. of A. ‘rubber’ is a synonym for ‘condom’.
    That could make Noddy naughty.

  8. also, what is your take on Slumdog? Litmus test it has become in India

  9. Anon: SDM is a "litmus test"? Really? For what? I thought it was okay, nothing great. Certainly not a film I'd want to write about at great length, especially given how much has been written about it already. Also see this comment I wrote on an earlier post.