Friday, May 20, 2011

Encounter most Unexpected

What do you do in a strange city in the evening for which you have not planned anything? You gotta do something, because you cannot simply sit in the guest house and wait for the clock hands to move so that you can finally with a clear conscience sleep. Though most of the times I do exactly the same thing i.e. wait for the clock to strike atleast 10 pm so that I can sleep, yesterday because I liked the streets which were devoid of too many human and animal forms hustling and jostling to reach their place of destination, I decided to take a walk.
While strolling on the famous MG Road where the Secretariat in its pure whiteness belying the actual colour of the people who work there is located, I happened to cross one uninviting bookshop. They were switcing off the lights and I realised that it was closing time for them. Ignoring the obvious signs I entered still speaking to a friend on the phone. They of course, being the Mallu gentlemen could not interrupt a person on the phone nor manhandle a lady determined to defy them. I was just glancing and reading the titles randomly when I stopped dead and stopped breathing. Cutting short the call with a brusque 'will call you back', I continued to wonder whether to believe or disbelieve. There nestled amidst so many books a name which gave me joy that I had not felt since I was in 9th standard when I thought I was truly, irreversibly and horribly in love with my teacher! It was not the title but the name which had stopped me dead. The name was David Foster Wallace. I mean, I cann't describe how elated I felt to hold some work of this great man in my hands. I frantically gestured to the manager. He came running, I dont know what he must have thought. I didn't even care. I asked him whether he has Infinite Jest by the same author. You should have seen the look on his face. Just to placate him I told him  that I was from Bangalore and had gone to each and every bookshop in my hometown to get one book of this author without success. And added that it is a grand thing that his bookshop has this book. I could see that he was feeling the pride that I wanted him to feel. So they switched on the back lights once again and for another 10 mins searched for my book but could not get it.
Anyway, I walked out with The Pale King, the unfinished work of a genius of our times. And spent the night reading and wondering what would have got edited, what would have got re-written if DFW had lived to tell the story. The book is about 'sadness and boredom' says the Editor. I connected instantly. We all grow up believing life to be noble and glorious and when we realise that theres no glory in the lives we live what we experience is an inexplicable sadness for something that never existed, something that lived and died as an idea. How horrible it is! Anyway initially I feared that I may not like the book because I doubted my ability to understand and appreciate DFW. I still feel that certain nuances of his writing is escaping me. But after a long time I am compelled to read a book with a pencil in hand. I tell you, The Pale King, though was clearly not the final approved draft by DFW, still dazzles you with its brilliance and you feel that bizarre gratitude for the glimpses of perfection.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

David Foster Wallace - Genius!