Friday, April 28, 2006

Awe and Inspiration

Anyone who doesn't write doesn't know how wonderful it is. I used to bemoan the fact that I couldn't draw at all, but now I am more than happy that I can at least write. And if I haven't any talent for writing books or newspaper articles, well, then I can always write for myself.

I want to go on living even after my death! And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself, and of writing, of expressing all that is in me.

I can shake of everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. But, and that is the great question, will I ever be able to write anything great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? I hope so, I hope so very much, for I can recapture everything when I write, my thougths, my ideals and my fantasies.

-Anne Frank


I think the world lost a rare and precious jewel in March 1945 when Ann Frank died at Bergen-Belsen. Reading this, among other things, I feel sure that she would have gone on to become, apart from an excellent human being, a top-notch writer, even a great one and produced works of lasting and enduring quality. This is just one excerpt... two hundred and twenty one pages, and I was left feeling awed and humbled.

Reading the above lines was a real eye-opener. I half-felt I had written them myself. They certainly echo my thoughts and feelings to the letter. And then a shiver comes over me as I recall that old phrase, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." (Or rather, would have gone.)

It's sixty-one years too late, but goodbye Anne Frank. The world was paupered when you died.

I hate sieges!

Darned difficult to write and horribly annoying. I can't imagine how Walter Scott did so well with his, for it seems to me I'm making a complete mess of mine.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"When I was in high school I read and loved two wonderful novels by Megan McCafferty "Sloppy Firsts" and "Second Helpings", which spoke to me in a way which few other books did. Recently I was very surprised and upset to learn that there are similarities between some passages in my novel, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life," and passages in these books. While the central stories of my book and hers are completely different, I wasn't aware of how much I may have internalised McCafferty's words. I am a huge fan of her work and can honestly say that any phrasing similarities between her works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious."

Absolutely pathetic, Ms Vishwanathan, absolutely pathetic. If you're not going to admit to blatant plagiarism then at least keep shut instead of insulting everyone's intelligence spouting such drivel. Wasn't it just a day ago that you said "No comment. I don't know what you're talking about."? Seems like you must have had a few words with your solicitor.

30 "influenced" passages. It's a crying shame. Seems as if we have Chris Paolini's long-lost sister over here.

Lord, what HAS happened to intellectual honesty?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Plagiarism and the man

"How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life" - doesn't the name itself give you a vague sense of nausea? Two lengthy reviews later I am determined never to touch that book with a ten-foot pole. And now come the accusations of plagiarism.

Before I write anything else, let me say that the poverty of language ensures that there is no way to describe the sheer wretchedness of The Times of India. Quoting from the article- "... Indian-American teen literary prodigy Kaavya Vishwanathan..."

Tragic. That's the only word I can think of. Absolutely tragic. I wonder if it is the typical TOI suycophancy whenever an NRI is involved, or their normal habit of applauding mediocrities and raising them to the level of geniuses. Remember, this is the paper which compared JK Rowling to Milton, Tolkien, Homer and Shelley and published eight different reviews the day after "Half-Blood Prince" was published. They'd probably be thinking Ms Vishwanathan is the next Wodehouse... "teen literary prodigy"...I mean, COME ON!

So on to the book itself. "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life" is about this Indian-American girl who's parents make a plan (HOWGIH- How Opal Will Get Into Harvard) to get her into Harvard when she is seven, and so for the next ten years she's working towards that. Then when the Harvard interviewer asks her what she does for fun, she is flummoxed and sent away to do research on the topic. So her father makes a plan HOWGAL (How Opal Will Get a Life) and so begins all that American stuff- you know, I don't need to mention it. It is the worst kind of populist writing written for the sole reason of selling and making money with no pretensions whatsoever to any literary merit. And so the accusations of plagiarism don't really come as a surprise- and I only wish somebody had the sense to put Paolini in the dock as well.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Edited

Alright, so after a talk with the person concerned I realize I probably overreacted to the situation. It has still been a very massive shock for me, and in future, caution will be my watchword.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cyembeline

This again is cannot be classified as a "tragedy" for exactly the same reason as "Pericles" - but I care not. I quite enjoyed this play... it was grand in scope, the language was symphonical of course, and the characters very well-drawn. In the beginning of the play, Cyembeline the character for some reason reminded me of Lear the character, though of course they are completely different people. I can also see some similarities with "Othello" in how slander is successful in destroying love and breeding envy. Thankfully, the ending was not quite so heart-rending as Othello.

Memorable lines aplenty here. The best ones, according to me, were:

"And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send
Though ink be made of gall."

"She shines not upon fools, lest the reflection should hurt her."

"The flame o' th' taper
Bows toward her and would under-peep her lids
To see th' enclosed lights, now canopied
Under these windows white and azure, lac'd
With blue of heaven's own tinct."

"I'll sweeten thy sad grave. Thou shalt not lack
The flower that's like thy face, pale primrose; nor
The azur'd hare-bell, like thy veins; no, nor
The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander,
Out-sweet'ned not thy breath."


I also loved the series of poems sung by the ghosts around the sleeping Leonatus. And Cloten, for some strange reason, reminds me of Christopher Paolini- all sound and fury, signifying nothing!

Antony and Cleopatera tomorrow.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Pericles

So is reborn my Shakespearean journey with the perusal of "Pericles, Prince of Tyre." It is the final tragedy in my Shakespeare anthology, but the first thought I had on completing the play was that it isn't a tragedy in the true sense of the word. The protagonists undergo trials, tribulations, even suffering but there is a "happy ending" without the deaths which characterise Julius Caesar, Macbeth and the other great tragedies.

In all honesty, I cannot claim to have enjoyed "Pericles" overmuch. In my opinion the plot was weak and the characters distinctly unimpressive. I did note some memorable lines, however, which reaffirm that one is in the presence of a genius:

"Here's a fish hangs in the net like a poor man's right in the law."

"Falseness cannot come from thee; for thou lookest
Modest as Justice and thou seem'st a palace
For the crown'd Truth to dwell in. I will believe thee."

"Yet thou dost look
Like Patience gazing on kings' graves and smiling."

Overall I do feel a bit disappointed. Gower's final verse sounds too much like putting the tale within a moral skeleton. From what vague memories I do have of my previous forays into the Bards' works, "Pericles" pales in comparison with some of them.

I hope better from "Cymbeline" tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Champions' League

Well, what is it with Italian teams and last minute goals? I personally thought Lyon did enough to go through over a hundred and eighty minutes, only to be denied by Inzaghi at the death... and that too after Shevchenko's shot had been turned on to one post by Coupet, rolled across the goalline and come back off the other post. Personally, I don't like AC Milan's style of play- they sit back for ten minutes, defend deep, launch a sudden counterattack and then go back to defending. Hopefully Barcelona will school them in the semis.

Talking of Barca, they must be kicking themselves right now for letting Riquelme go to Villareal. Imagine a midfield four comprising of Deko, Ronaldinho, Riquelme, Messi... and supported up front by Eto'o... it would be a dream team. Riquelme was simply immense against Inter, that incredible shot from a non-existent angle really putting the seal on a magnificent performance. Inter continue their underachievement in Europe, Villareal's fairy tale run continues...

Today, Arsenal vs Juventus and Barca vs Benfica. I do feel we're going to go through, but you can never tell with the Italians. Also, Barca should qualify after a tense, tight game... 1-0 or 2-1.

Monday, April 03, 2006

An idea...

I just thought of something. Here in Delhi for the next three years, I can at least watch every Arsenal game on weekends- every single one- as opposed to zilch in the US. How about that!

That's it then. Screw you, Princeton. Get stuffed, Dartmouth. Hang yourself, Yale. To hell with you, Stanford. No more moping, no more sitting around staring blankly into space. It's time to move on.

And continuing...

Fourth day...

God, when will this ordeal end? I almost feel suicidal at times. How could so much effort, how could all that blood, sweat toil and tears just go down the drain with nothing to show for it? How can my world come crashing down around me in the space of three days? I don't suppose either that I'll ever meet Erin or that we'll ever write Amber Throne together like we had once discussed. It was a dream- a wonderful dream while it lasted, but now its gone.

At the moment I don't want to hear the word "Ivies" ever again in my life. Ever.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Continuing despair...

I feel as if my life is falling to pieces around me.

The last three days have been without doubt the worst of my life. Unable to write, unable to study... just sitting at my desk staring blankly at nothing, wondering how it ever came to this.

I desperately need to talk to someone. Parents keep saying, "Get over it." Erin's been wonderful, but well, she's got into P'Ton and Yale, I haven't.

I keep getting reminded of Chekhov's Grief which we did this year in school... the irony would be almost laughable if I wasn't sunk in the depths of despair every moment.

One day they're going to regret it. That's a promise.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ivy rejections

One after the other, each a more crippling blow than the last. Fighting back tears for more than half an hour.

Unable to study, unable to write. Sitting at my desk staring at nothing. I don't feel anything anymore. Just an aching regret for all the time spent studying for the SATs, tearing around school all day getting reccomendations, writing essays, filling forms... all for nothing. Wasted hours, wasted days

"You tell me we can find something to wash the tears away
You tell me we can start the rain
You tell me that we all can change
You tell me we can find something to wash the tears...

And I know of the pain that you feel the same as me
And I dream of the rain as it falls upon the leaves
And the cracks in the ground like the cracks are in our lives
They are sealed and now far away...."

Good old Steve Harris...