Sunday, January 24, 2016

What's new?




   I wanted to make a paella out of the rice I specially bought for making paella more than a year ago. I had not been feeling inspired about cooking in recent years. This afternoon when the thought of making a paella struck, I set about making it happen. I was glad that I did not have to drive far to get the requisite saffron and  have a bit of time to hit the independent bookstore which was located in the same shopping mall. The bookstore owner had not seen me for a while so she said, 'Hello it has been a long time.' I explained that I had to stop buying books as I have far  too many books at home, unread that is .
“ Oh that's no good for me. You have been busy and haven't  got the time to read?”
“ Not really, I just have too many books,”  I responded.

As I was standing in the cram space scanning quickly to see what were available , a man walked out with a carrier bag followed by his daughter and his wife. They were looking delightful and chattered about their find. I gather that  they must be bookish like me as only a bibliophile will understand the joy and anticipation we feel when we pick up books that  we would devour over the weekend. I ended up picking up Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood, an author whose books I have been meaning to read.  I  started on it right away after dinner.

Published writers constantly amaze me with their ability to describe a scene, a character and tell stories. Due to their  acute observation, they are candid in their narration and subtle in conveying  their perceptions.  I have recently read  The Imperfectionists by  Tom Rachman. It must have been the title of the book that first caught my attention. The story of The Imperfectionists is  about a newspaper that was founded in Rome in the 1950s and after over fifty years of its circulation, the future looks bleak in light of the internet and the passing of its founder. As the author has been a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press, his fiction  gives us some insight into journalism and an authentic account about the workings of the newspaper.

I bought the novel sometime ago. I ended up reading Rachman’s second book “ The Rise and Fall of Great Powersclick before reading his debut novel about the newsroom. Tom Rachman has  cleverly weaved together the stories of those involved in news publication against the challenges faced by the newspaper industry. There are eleven main characters and everyone of the characters is fascinating. The author cleverly spins a story about each of them and successfully humanize the newpaper business with humour and wit.

Amongst these compelling characters , meet  Kathleen Solson, the editor- in- chief as someone who is preoccupied with intelligence and ranking brains, hers in terms of everyone else and Oliver Ott, the reluctant publisher who seems more interested in his basset hound than the struggling newspaper. 

About the business reporter, Hardy Benjamin, Rachman writes,
Hardy spends her morning on the phone to London, Paris and Frankfurt, wheedling quotes from grumpy financial analysts. “Is an interest-rate hike imminent?’ she asks. ‘Is Brussels extending the shoe tariffs? What about the trade imbalance?’

  She is unfailingly courteous even when her sources are not .
‘ Hardy , I’m busy. What do you need?’
‘ I could call back later.’
‘I’m busy now, I’m busier later.’
‘Sorry to be annoying. Just wondering if you got my voice mail.’
‘Yes , I know – you’re doing another China story.’
‘I’ll be quick, I swear.’
‘You know my line on China: “We should all start learning Mandarin. Blah-blah-blah.” Can I go now?’
By midafternoon she has written a thousand words, which is greater than the number of calories she has consumed since yesterday. Hardy is on a diet that started, roughly, at age twelve. She’s thirty-six now and still dreaming of butter cookies.

Tom Rachman's style of writing is fluid. The stories are  brilliantly told with charm. It is definitely a goodread.

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