Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ga ga for Grisham.

I was always intrigued by fiction - but somewhere down the line I stumbled upon Short stories in my teen years - I think a one named "Cyclone" By the Indian author Raja Rao and ever since, my love affair with short stories had continued. In a fiction writing class a few years ago, I'd churned out some pathetic short stories and actually believed that they were "The New Yorker" material. Anyway, in the process of writing stories, I was introduced to the annual volume - BASS, short for Best American Short stories. During that class, I might not have really learnt how to make it to the New Yorker - but have come to appreciate short works of fiction more that their longish counterparts. I was selective, actually, I am selective about what I read - since I have this allegedly offbeat and upbeat taste if my friends and siblings are to be believed - and I am convinced that they substitute these adjectives for "weird" and "strange" to keep me happy. The opinions are opened for debate.
Back on track, I think Jumpha Lahari earned not just the Pulitzer, but my immense respect for her short story series "The interpreter of Maladies" while I opine that Chitra Divakaruni is more a mediocre writer. For my weird and strange taste, I need the author to charm me with his/her insight and observation into human hearts, minds and psyches.
Now, when I explore my leisure with a book in hand, seated in the huge window of a high rise, while my senses gaze through the infinite skyscrapers in South Mumbai - I feel kind of blessed, to have a chance to look at human ways through the eyes of John Grisham. I crossed paths with him a few years ago, when I read a book named "The Client" that I chanced upon. I remember the graphic of the cover, the place I read it (in a plane form NJ to SFO) and many other things surrounding the experience - but I sadly forgot about the plot, the characters and the author. John Grisham, this tall, lanky, shrewd looking lawyer didn't really charm me with his brains up until now. The only lukewarm thing about reading his book was he made it a cake walk for me. It was a book about some legal battle- and that's what I thought he wrote all that time and conveniently crossed him off of my ga ga list.
Grisham's Stories of Ford County lets my mind romance with the often overlooked, ugly, naive,sly, stupid and manipulative side of the human mind. he kind of reminds me that beneath all the barriers, skin colors and languages - there is one thing that binds us all humans - and it is that way we are from the inside - the pretty and pretty ugly sides we have that are camouflaged in glorious outsides and stories. I'd not read enough to say this is his best work - but this series of stories remind me of a native movie director cum author that wrote short stories in a regional language - that I again chanced upon during my last visit to my country. Just like Grisham, the local talent Vamsi worte unforgettable stories around scarily real characters hailing form the Lower Godavari region that I hail from. Though these series are set a world apart form the Ford County in southern US, they speak the same language of human nature.
I kind of feel overwhelmed to write all that is passing through my mind as I cross path with Grisham again - but I felt the necessity to record this awe while it is fresh. Mr. Grisham took my admiration for writers, observers and short stories to another level - so much so that I feel a twang of pride in this silly blah blah as well.

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