Susan A.

Literary

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 23, 2007

I am withholding posts for a week and will post again in May.  Thanks.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Sonnets from the Portugese

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 21, 2007

015.jpgThis little book of pastoral poems was written by the Christian poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), while she was still deeply in love with her husband, the poet Robert Browning and whom she had married as a delighted bride in 1846.

Here Elizabeth narrates her poetry with gentleness and eloquent tenderness.

She talks about her seaside strolls with Robert, and her prayerful musings on laughter and grief, as she writes, afforded to her by God. She also laments on the sufferings of children and questions the shortcomings of women.

In her mind, God exists and so she uses her painful reflections on another’s sufferings to search out his glory that she would perhaps benefit with more love in which to receive and give. Here, I’ve scribbled out a little excerpt from Sea-Side Walk. :

“We walked beside the sea, after a day which perished silently…

…the sky above us showed a uiversal and unmoving cloud,

on which the cliffs permitted us to see,

only the outline of their majesty,

as master-minds when gazed at by the crowd: And shining with a gloom, the water gray.

Swang in its moon-taught way…” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning. – susan abraham


Posted in Books | 4 Comments »

Philosophy

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 19, 2007

I’ve learnt that a steadfast focus stays a powerful lifebelt to take you to safety from any harried argument, no matter how severe the discourse. Use it at all times.  Dismiss the inappropriate. Shove those bits into the sea.  – susan abraham

Posted in Philosophy | 5 Comments »

Book Review – Secret Sea (Antiquarian)

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 19, 2007

 

 

 

image3.jpgI am reading the Secret Sea written by its author, Robb White who once worked as a former Ltd. Commander in the Navy.

It is an old-fashioned straight-off-the-cuff American novel, first published in 1947 by Scholastic Book Services.

I love my dog-eared paperback for its ancient charm bound into three oceanic adventure tales that spell a dynamic fervour. Picture shipwrecks, storms, battles, crooks and a rush for sunken treasure as part of a dramatic plot.

Musty smells warn of  memory heaped upon memory.

A sraightforward writing style and several scattered illustrations complete the thrills and spills of this now well out-of-print book.

Mini-Biography: Before making his name as a novelist, White worked in different trades.

This included being a deckhand on a vessel bound for the West Indies where White intended to live and work as a writer. He ended up publishing 21 novels in all.

To supplement his income, he was said to contribute dirty stories as well as sunday school ones to a variety of magazines.

White also wrote 4 television episodes for the Perry Mason detective series and a number of screenplays for the master of horror, Vincent Price. White would later attribute his eventual success not to talent alone but to pure rigid discipline of honing his craft.

Today, doesn’t a nostalgic tag like New York*Toronto*London*Auckland*Sydney*Tokyo bring on a wistful smile. Decades ago, these countries proved to be the Gardens of Eden for massive book distribution worldwide. – susan abraham


Posted in Books | 3 Comments »

Philosophy –

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 18, 2007

english_judge.gifJustice to me, is revenge costumed in a robe and dignified manner, as opposed to the nudity of a raw, emotional simmer. – susan abraham 

Snivelling is to rudeness what spittle is to a thorn. – susan abraham


Posted in Philosophy | 3 Comments »

Book Review – Frangipani, a South Pacific tale

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 18, 2007

frangipani.jpg
On reading Frangipani (Text Publishing, Melbourne AU$23.00) by the award-winning Tahitian author of Breadfruit, who is Celestine Hitura Vaite, the novel did not disappoint.

The South Pacific tale projected a visible picture of a mother-daughter relationship amongst the Tahitian working classes.

I found myself floating along with the author’s fluid style that stirred and nourished a deep well of emotions with which to tear, toss and swing the heart about by turns but always reaching that positive juncture of hope and optimism at end’s way.

Reality bands with humour. When there is no room for anything else, it’s better to look on the sunny side of things. And so the results are one of a cheerful domesticity straddled with complexities on the poorer side of Tahiti.

Celestine draws up a series of likeable characters and thoughtful conversations that pulls the reader on a long string without once faltering.

The main character Matarena demonstrates that even professional cleaners have a right to dream with their generosity, friendship and abundant feminine wisdom.

There is no degree of measurement in a mother’s love for her daughter as conflicting emotions pop up like a striking prism.

There is also no room for superficiality in Frangipani. Instead, the reader may be tempted to indulge in delicious homecooked chicken cuisine Tahitian style, munch on breadfruit and enjoy the coffees. But not before soaking in the sweet, musky scent of the Frangipani, designed to lure, seduce and arouse the senses to a fragrant passionate love.

I wish the end had reflected a little more exposition of the earlier scenes, that may have tightened the book to a stronger intensity for a dramatic emotional close and then it would have tugged at the heartstrings. – susan abraham



Posted in Books | 2 Comments »

Philosophy

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 17, 2007

How does one hide one’s shame from a game that wounds a name? How does a friendship know when it collects its slap from a strap and be told to go? I don’t know….I don’t know. I just want to lie buried in the snow. – susan abraham

Posted in Philosophy | 3 Comments »

Philosophy –

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 16, 2007

We look for the elusive when a gem already glints our way. And so we run away and abandon today and yesterday. Then one day we remember with a startle, the remnant of that fading sparkle but as we turn back in a dizzy whirl – it’s too late, says a calendar date – the oyster has closed its door to the pearl. – susan abraham

Posted in Philosophy | 2 Comments »

Children’s book author – Enid Blyton

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 16, 2007

enidblyton2.jpgHere is a rare clip of England’s legendary children’s book writer of all time, the prolific Enid Blyton. One of the world’s top bestselling authors of the last century, she wrote some 120 novels, more than 700 other books and and an estimation of 10,000 stories.

Here Blyton is photographed with her spaniel, Laddie, who is licking her daughter, Imogen’s face while her older daughter Gillian, points to something with which to arrest her mother’s attention and gaiety. – susan abraham


Posted in Children's Book Author | 3 Comments »

My Writing Identity

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 15, 2007


I wonder if it isn’t the resurgence of South Asian fiction that grips me passionately to confirm my love for things Indian – that too being a snatch of my own heritage.

Such a love hounds me from time to time like a wachful shadow.

It stays spiced-up by all the pickled emotions I own from having lived a somewhat colourful life. This includes Tanzanian safaris and icing coasts off the Zanzibar. Australia and England still feel like matriach countries in their eagerness to claim a sense of belonging with my writing identity.

I remain enthusiastic about the impact of British and South-Asian fiction in myown life.

Each educates with a wealth of pleasures that tames my restless spirit and cajoles it to embrace pastures anew. And so, I become the official dreamer of dreams.

Today, after years of travel when I say I’m writing a novel, people ask me if the plot is something decidedly Indian as many Indian writers coat the underlying statements of their stories, with the thick mask of a complex heritage from start to finish.

It is a question that still has the power to jolt me out of the blue and make me think hard. I am unable to tell from my drafted prose, having stared at the chapters one time too many. Finally, I shrug my shoulders and say, I don’t know.

My identity is rich with its mix of worlds that at the end of the day, I could well wonder what my fiction would actually constitute of. I guess it would simply be a slice of me…my aspirations and inspirations.

And the Asian blood that runs through the course of my veins, even while I once visited the cathedrals of Rome or sailed on the Catamaran twice over in Nadi, Fiji…that too, is very simply me and I would think, surely an interesting way to be.– susan abraham


Posted in Writing Identity | 4 Comments »

Philosophy – When A Writer Dies

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 13, 2007

When a great man of letters dies, there is always sadness, at the loss of his goodness. Perhaps more from a fleeting time that may catch him in his prime and one that labels mortality a fearful fragility. A writer must write all he can in the short rein given to man with the roll of his pen that lends the joys of his voice, before the sunset calls and the walls that hide the planet rise. And then it would be his time too to go asunder as life gently makes room for another. And so when a writer dies. – susan abraham

Posted in Philosophy | 5 Comments »

Retro Pop

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 13, 2007

img0013.jpg My favourite French cd at the moment. Featuring the kind of girl pop that still stands as a classically beautiful listen.  It is sensual and passionate at the best of times. I discovered it by accident. Bought in London. Virgin Records, Piccadilly. – susan abraham


Posted in Retro Pop | 1 Comment »

Poetry – On Reading Porter

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 12, 2007

peterporter.jpg

Caption: Peter Porter photographed by Richard H. Smith.

The still faint memory of poetry and this with special aptitude to the British Poets’ Movement in the Sixties, made up of Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, Sylvia Plath, Peter Porter and others, and enjoyed for so long in libraries and in cafes, now return to haunt and trigger the senses.

A greedy ambition to write poetry in that vague, half-remembered way, provokes a new restlessness.

On reading the award-winning Peter Porter’ slim collection of Possible Worlds (Oxford Poets, 1987) and now out of print except that I had spotted one in a bookshop, long taut lines spoke of a strange affluence linked to subjects on morbidity and mortality and all studied with a wistful, cynical air.

For instance, in the poem Copycat, a man who hears death knock at his door with a summons, pleads for a week’s grace to finish reading his favourite books. Indeed, I see myself doing the very same.

And yet, I want to curl up in my own poems of love, hope and a wise redemption…wrapping myself in their long dainty fingers, all sweet, warm and sensual to the touch. – susan abraham

Posted in Poetry - Thought | 1 Comment »

Essay – The Authenticity of the Indian Writer’s Global Identity.

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 11, 2007

by Susan Abraham

Not too long ago, when I was in England, the distinguished author and historian, William Dalrymple – of the bestselling White Mughals – essayed a handsome feature spread for a British weekend newspaper in which the subject of a voracious Indian literary culture with respect to its burgeoning authorship worldwide, was eagerly questioned and debated as to any remaining skeletal form of a present existence.

Mr. Dalrymple appeared to me, to doubt that Indian writers were sucessfully working their way into novels or making sales without stepping out of their Mumbai/Kolkata shores.

He preferred to acknowledge that the successful Indian author was one who made sure he/she balanced at least 2 national cultures – one Eastern and the other Western – if not more within its belt and on its head.

He especially appeared to base his present conclusion from the personality of the current stereotype of the Indian author present at the famous Hay-on-Wye writing festival (2005) in particular, for its book readings and talks.

A British hybrid perhaps, given examples of successful Indian authors from those of Indian parents, later born and raised abroad especially in Britain and the States. I, of course, disagree.

In fact, such questions re-open a Pandora’s box with quicker speed than you could cast a dice.

How would you label the successful Indian writer whose parents emigrated from India into different eastern cultures eg. Singapore, Malaysia and even Japan. How would one explain the high inspirations of gentler poets like Mani Rao who while based in Hong Kong, has long established a tremendous following.

Such debates open up pages of controversy in a quest to decide on an author’s true identity. Perhaps the author is simply what she/he is, created by its heritage and life’s experiences.

How would one after all, explain globalisation that is swiftly opening borders and boundaries and destroying limitations, for any ambitious traveller who writes, making the stay-at-home-author and futuristically speaking – an almost sure relic of the past.

Mr. Darylmple appeared to doubt altogether, the existence of any living and working author in India – still successfully thriving on its literary merits – to the best of my knowledge.

 

“Darylmple’s assumption is that he can assess India’s youthful literary culture in English by adding up prizes, publishing advances, and sales figure rather than by examining individual texts, ” penned a disgusted Mr. Mishra to the Guardian. “Clearly, Dalrymple feels free to air-brush Indian writers out of existence in the pages of the Guardian,” he finished. “… But he will have be a lot more scruplous and rigorous if he wants Indian readers to accept his judgements.”

I agree with Mr. Pankaj Mishra on the grounds that he also named a good flurry of Indian authors who write and makes their homes in their motherland or who retain exceptionally strong roots even while staying in the West.

He named Amit Chaudhuri, Vikram Chandra, SiddharthaDeb, Raj Kamal Jhan, Rana Dasgupta, Rupa Bajwa and Tabish Khair amongst others.

I know that Siddharth Dhanwant Sanghvi who won the Betty Trask Award in UK, for his debut novel, The Last Song of Dusk and who has a British agent, still lives with his parents in Delhi. Rupa Bajwa did not come to England to launch her popular debut novel, The Sari Shop which was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction at the time, as it was called. She has remained in Amritsar to work on her second novel.

Manju Kapur, authoress of Difficult Daughters and winner of a Commonwealth Prize still lives, works and writes actively from New Delhi. Uzma Aslam Khan the author of her debut novel, Trespassing, launched her book in England. She lives in Lahore with her husband. The gorgeous Raj Kamal Jha, author of the highly-acclaimed The Blue Bedspread still lives in Delhi where he edits The Indian Express, a national newspaper.

Radhika Jha who wrote The Elephant and The Maruti and Smell, lives and works in Delhi, 3 years ago, Smell turned up winner of the Prix Guerlain in Paris. Anita Nair, author of various bestselling novels worldwide, lives and writes in Bangalore. Then there is former journalist Shinie Antony who left her job to write novels and subsequently won different Commonwealth Prizes for each one. She lives and writes in and from Delhi.

The majority of these authors have their interests looked after by literary agents in Europe and subsequently with translation rights, are published by several European publishers all round. Rupa Bajwa was straightaway published by Penguin UK. Kapur’s literary agent is Heather Godwin of the David Godwin Literary Agency. Anita Nair, Uzma and Radhika Jha share the same British literary agent. Rana Dasgupta is looked after by the world-famous agent, Toby Eady in London.

And Vikram Seth attests to the fact that he spends at least 6 months annually with his mother in Delhi, even while living in London. Of course, having no commitment rings on his finger helped, Seth had boasted to The Bookseller of his single status.

I could think of a few more names if time was on my side. These are just some that presently sit at the back of my head, ready to be summoned at a moment’s notice.

Free wallpaper credit to Sanatansociety.com
Captions are of a saint teaching in a temple above and a lady eagerly waiting, below.

Posted in Essay | 6 Comments »

Philosophy – Rain

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 10, 2007

rain.jpgAnd we watch the rain fall on the window pane from when we were very young to now when we become very old. The winds of change befall us as we watch the rain like threads of gold make slippery drips on a puddle where our lives stay a mirrored jagged muddle. In turn the rain watches us…soft and serene, its beautiful face a sheen in a timeless age from where it may soak up a stormy pace and still look unruffled to our ancient wrinkly cuddles. And we watch the rain, our lives a mish-mash to the end and the rain watches us, its freedom unleashed, striking and unbent. And we watch the rain…again and again.. we watch the rain. – susan abraham

Posted in Philosophy | 5 Comments »

Book – Queen of Dreams by Chitra Divakaruni

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 9, 2007

chitradivakaruni.jpgThe Queen of Dreams authored by best-selling novelist Chitra Divakaruni, is tinged with a pattern of sadness, roped in from a culture where teardrops mixed with customs and hardships, shadow ordinary family life in India.

This packaged history is more than likely to follow a family’s emigration, no matter where their suitcases end up.

It will swim its way cautiously down generations and face sibling rivalry with a wild splash. Stories will stay entrenched in legacies, handsomely bound and waiting to be told, no matter how turbulent the current or which way the tide is turned.

With Queen of Dreams, Divakaruni dives into the supernatural , winding mystery and intrigue like a hesitant toy.

Rakhi, an emigrant to the States, has a mother who dreams only of prophetic secret visions.

The parent sacrifices her assumption of good things and this brings about painful consequences. It is hoped that such prophetic inclinations may trigger bliss amongst family ties. Not so.

Rakhi faces a tragedy and through introspection, explores modernity against the traditional, scoffers with the believers and the metaphysical in unseen time with the physical in real time.

With her given answers, the jovial enterprising Rakhi must instead come to tough decisions on renewing her wilted love for a misunderstood father, restore her broken marriage, calm a rebellious daughter and learn to love a mother with strange abilities.

Divakaruni easily expounds on the technique of journal-writing to separate the supernatural elements in her prose.

Back to real time. Divakaruni throws the reader a hint of mystery by questioning tai chi traditions, describing a rival shop manager in the vein of someone with demonic powers and Rakhi’s own teenage daughter, Jona, who may have just inherited her grandmother’s gift.

As an illustration, when Rakhi reflects on her daughter’s talent just after 9/11. “She had dreamed of a cave frozen with bodies. I couldn’t say like other mothers might, ‘Don’t worry, it’s only a dream.’ The weight of her gift pressed on my chest like a slab of ice.”

And then too, a thoughtful vivid image on American life, from Rakhi’s point of view after September 11.

People are taking advantage of the sunshine, the mildness of this November noon. Students amble along the path, children run squealing after squirrels, dogs pull their owners along as they explore smells, lovers sit on fallen tree trunks, exchanging kisses as lovers have always done.

A family has spread a tablecloth over fallen pine needles for a picnic. I peer over their blonde heads to see falafel and salad, pita bread, pureed eggplant.

How can everyone look so happy? Is there a magic shield around the grove that filters memory from the minds of those who enter here? Or is this how humans survive, shrugging off history, immersing themselves in the moment. If so, it’s a skill that has passed me by “- Queen of Dreams.

Queen of Dreams spins a tale of heartaches, awakening and hope. – susan abraham


Posted in Books | 6 Comments »

Philosophy – Quotes

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 9, 2007

When you set off on your journey of ambition and determination, catch the seagull route and not the windmill one. – susan abraham

Like a weeping willow, a pity party is a virgin turned a widow, dismissing the light and heralding the night, her deflated emotions, empty in the hollow of a sinking pillow. – susan abraham

To stop heartache, don’t open an already-closed door until life gives you a kind key. – susan abraham

Posted in Philosophy | 3 Comments »

Film – A Touch of Mink

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 8, 2007

dorisday.jpgThe once exuberant film star of Hollywood’s golden cinema years, Doris Day turned 83 on April 3.

Pink lipsticks and sunny flower bouquets graced her with the same elegance in which an oyster treasured its pearl.

She could have accepted flamboyant roles if she wanted, with an adequate choice of film scripts and that rich shock of golden hair but Day never projected herself in that brash way.

Often, her beauty was orchestrated with a subtle exquisiteness that led her on to an enduring worldwide fame.

The glamour lady could manouvere a slender switch from an enigmatic allure to a teenybopper swing anytime and still stay the beauty. In A Touch of Mink – that was nominated for 3 Oscars including screenplay – a wealthy playboy Rolls-Royce driving Philip, played by Cary Grant and a virginal smalltown girl Cathy played by Day, challenge each other to comic cat-and-mouse games with Grant’s non-commital views on marriage.

It is a playful, sparkling comedy, to say the least.

Think colourful Bakerlite telephones, stylish capes and pretty jewellery. Add on slow music and glittering chandeliers that claim attention in a quaint Bahamas hotel. This is romantic comedy with more than its offerings of rollicking laughter.

Now think, girlfriends having giggles over a cuppa and while tucked in bed with rollers. Think gossipy old ladies.

And there you are… You may have yet carved out the essence of a classic Hollywood romance with its happy-ever-after ending. Cherish it if ever you need a swift girlish perk-me-up moment. – susan abraham




Posted in Film | 6 Comments »

Sunday Scribblings – In The News

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 6, 2007

news.gifnews-paper-clipart13.gifnews-paper-clipart16.gifnews-paper-clipart22.gif

I love the morning news and relish poring over social commentaries and other magazines like Achitectural Digest, Vanity Fair & Harpers & Queen. I worked as a fashion journalist for some years in Singapore/Malaysia and so enjoyed the buzz it contained.

I lived life in its glitzy enthusiastic spin.

This was followed by a soul-searching interlude of 6 years when I thought I would do other things instead. I travelled spontaneously but could not write. My desire for news sank despondently like a submarine. I was too immersed with myself.

Last year, I returned to my country Malaysia for a bit and the desire to write creatively, suddenly sprouted up with splendid voracity. To my delight, the old spark for journalism also returned in hot pursuit of the old me.

I felt a mild sense of rejuvenation to my spirit…still untouched and still seeking to grow and learn with the times.

I have now planned to return to journalism as a career abroad even while writing my novel and play, and to specialise either in arts or fashion.

Such an ambition naturally turns the ever-changing European news to the best of my advantage. This to signal my continued progression as an individual that thankfully has not diminished.

My interests in life have widened unexpectedly and I need the news to catch up and satisfy my appetite for a deeper understanding of world issues and its current paradoxes of discussions and decisions.

I am now the morning person. I wake to the song of birds outside my window, a good breakfast and a coffee. One of the first things I do after a shower is to catch up on the world news and current affairs online.

I feel that when I read the world news I am whirling along with the different continents…revolving on my happy axis and always on the move. Such is its intensity to cloud my intellect with deep reflections, that I stay vibrant and excited about my future.

In fact, my homepage is always made up one of the British papers. It could be the Daily Telegraph or The Times. On the weekends, I change this to the Guardian newspaper because it offers delicious morsels on books, novelists and story extracts. It talks about paintings, cuisine and the theatre with celebration. There is so much to discover. I am at home with these papers, having lived in London for 3 years.

When I open my Web every morning to these pages, I feel instantly alive. To catch knowledge is to stay on top of things. I do balance reading the tragic with at least a few social commentaries, this based on the political headlines of the day.

I find that such dialogue helps me fathom my thoughts and fashion my articulation for my writing craft. Reading the news and staying abreast of things do colour my stories with events, episodes and anecdotes that I may otherwise never have conjured up. – susan abraham

Posted in Sunday Scribblings | 16 Comments »

Essay: My prediction for multicultural fiction

Posted by susanabraham2007 on April 5, 2007

balicow1.jpgHow will the world classify multicultural fiction in the future?

It is my guess that an author’s nationality will always dictate his/her heritage for a novel, as a serious focus on identity.

This will stem about as emigration increases and people choose their green pastures to live and work in. Which won’t be their homeland.

Writers will keep flitting to different cities as is already the case with a whole new breed of contemporary novelists. Still, they will always be defined as part of the town in which they were born. This too, as a necessary source of identity for fiction.

But global opportunities and a new creativity are fast conquering the world and there will come a day when English literature for fiction will offer several new major forms that will define an acceptable brand-new reading taste and stay seriously in demand.

Will there be a place for multi-cultural fiction that dictates hometowns, cultures, traditions, quiet anecdotes and stories for locals by locals without the influence of cross-country cultures? Yes, but I feel only in a few established continents.

Yes, but I feel only in a few established continents. Will there be arrogant prejudice about this as being a true traditional literature over something that is multi-cultural especially in the new Asia?

I think an individual global identity will still win the day in this new borderless world.

And I don’t think we’ve witnessed a major literary impact for multi-cultural fiction yet though there are interesting buds sprouting about the place.

I believe there will always be a place for homegrown fiction in English but some countries may sell their stories better than others. Authors will dip into local flavours and experiences to combine multi-faceted identities in a pursuit for each individual soul.

Which means that the world audience will still read about a cow wash (pictured above) in a little Balinese village for instance, but the plot is unlikely to stop in that small town.

The story will probably move further afield before the last page ends, to embrace extraordinary adventures for the reader.

So don’t be surprised if in 10 years times, purely traditional Asian literature based only on local observations and without any outside influences, turns into a specialised niche market. – susan abraham

Photo credit (above) Jim Richter 2003 (Bali)

Posted in Commentary - Writing, Essay | 4 Comments »

 
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