Saturday, October 24, 2015

All that glitters is not gold


Whenever I hit the book store or the library, I see books that I want to read as every book offers generous sharing of its author’s  perspective and insights  whether it is non-fiction or fiction, the latter less explicit. Every work of fiction is a piece of creative writing that often tells more truths ( often psychological) than some writings  that purport to report the truth. The imaginary tale contains narratives that resonate with its reader and engages him or her with the unfolding of the story that might actually happen or is already happening in the real world and as the reader turns the pages, he or she is perplexed by the intricacies of the plot or seized  by an overwhelming feeling of joy at the  brilliance of the writer.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes - Marcel Proust.  Apart from pleasure, one primary reason I feel compelled to read is that reading helps me to see things with new eyes. Some writings prompt us to look at things from fresh perspectives while some writings remind us that we should believe in humanity and see life for what it is. I particularly enjoy reading satires by authors who cleverly put forward a hilarious fictionalized account of the madcap world we live in.
  Park G├╝ell
In the MARK and the VOID written by Paul Murray,  the fiction  is set against the backdrop of the ongoing crisis in the eurozone . Claude Martingale is French and he works as an equity analyst in the Bank of Torabundo in Dublin. His father was a blacksmith who had encouraged him to study but his father subsequently resented Paul for  his success as a banker in Paris as he was mortally against the whole financial industry. His father remembered ‘the scandals that emerged after Liberation, the bankers who had collaborated with the Nazis in order to enrich themselves and he accused Claude of taking the job out of malice.’

Claude does not agree as he narrates,

Empires fall, that was what he had taught me; the world turns, and people, whole cultures, become obsolete. Progress might be a lie, but it was a lie that swept all before it and so the best tactic was to find high ground.

After his mother died, Claude had to flee France to work in Dublin as he and his father could no longer be in the same room and he subsequently reproached himself for not having made up with his father before his death . Claude is approached by a down-on-his-luck author Paul, who is looking for his next great subject and plans to write a book about Everyman who works in a bank. Claude does not think that his life would make an interesting book. But  Paul assures Claude that he represents the perfect Everyman in the modern times and he plans to shadow Claude for his writing project. Claude later finds out about Paul’s real  situation and tries to get him to feel inspired to write again. One reason why Paul gives up writing is that he thinks “modern people live in a state of distraction”.
                                    
Paul has written a novel and it is called For Love of a Clown but the book was eclipsed by another prize winning novel written by Bismal Banerjee called “ The Clowns of Sorrow.” Paul has the serendipitous encounter with his ex-editor who happens to be in Dublin for a reading by Banerjee who has published another book. Claude and Paul are both invited to the reading followed by a dinner. During dinner, Banerjee tells Paul that he should feel no regret at having failed as a writer for it is the dying art of a dying civilization.

I believe art is a dying art,’ he says. “What we are witnessing in twenty-first century Western society is nothing less than the death of subjectivity. We are in Dublin, so I will quote to you a Dubliner, George Bernard Shaw, who said that man looks in a mirror to his face, and at  art to see his soul. But modern man has no soul to see. He has become little more than a conduit for the transfer of wealth between corporations.’

Amongst Claude’s colleagues at the investment bank, Ish is the least likely investment banker in the real world.

Ish is an anomaly -  not of the god’s eye view sort, but not especially interested in money either, other than what she needs to pay for her apartment, which she bought off the plans during the boom at a price she now admits may have been extravagant even for an investment banker.’ 

I was hooked  from the first pages of the MARK and the VOID click.The book has interesting twists though the story  becomes  a little draggy due to various sub-plots. It is not an easy read partly attributed to my lack of understanding of the mechanism of the finance world which one can conclude that  it is actually a bit of a farce in the way how re-capitalization work to save the financial crisis. John Freeman, Globe correspondent writes, 'Fiction, however, with its blurred dreams and refractory points, is not a way to control reality or even profit off it. Novels become a way to look at things from the side.' click The reality is indeed like fiction and vice versa.

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