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An Evening with Jeffrey Archer

Sunday evening was spent rather delightfully, listening to Jeffrey Archer speak. He was at Landmark to promote his new book, a re-write of his top seller, Kane and Abel.

The man is a genius when it came to handling the crowd – he had them eating out of his hand within the first few minutes – he spoke about what a great place India is, and Sachin’s brilliant century in the previous day’s game. It was easy to see how he would have swayed his constituents who sent him to the House of commons.

Jeffrey Archer
Jeffrey Archer

Here are bits of what he spoke about, as I remember them. Any omissions / distortions are mine, and I absolutely refuse to stand by anything here under oath!

He began by reading out a really short short story that he said was perhaps the best example of short story writing.

Then he spoke about the new Kane and Abel and how it came about. Having sat down to read the original work 30 years after it was first published, he found himself making corrections here and there. These became bigger and bigger, and he found himself rewriting whole sections. Finally, at the end of about 500 hours of work over a 9-month period, the new version was ready. He’s written over 50,000 new words, and the new work is about 7,000 words shorter – which seems to suggest that about 57,000 words from the old version have been jettisoned.

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Next, Michael Crichton

Just finished reading Crichton’s latest – Next.

At the end of this “novel,” there is an Author’s Note, which explains five conclusions that Crichton arrived at at the end of his research for this book. However, it is hard to believe that these conclusions were made at the end of research for this book, for the whole book seems to be a moral fable that tells tales illustrating and reinforcing each of these conclusions. This renders the book a narrative of denouements – without enough of development on either side. But Crichton, being the brilliant author that he is, manages to make the book gripping enough. For Crichton fans, this is a must read, even if it is a bit preachy. Non-fans may find it a bit condescending, but what do they know! For someone who has never read Crichton before, stay away, and read Eaters of the Dead or Jurassic Park or Disclosure first. read more

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False Impression

Finished reading False Impression at one shot – well, almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading – and at the risk of playing spolier – seems to hint darkly at things that aren’t there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! read more

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A “Literary” Aside

Jassie Gift (or is it Kay Kay) screaming “IR-ettu pallukkaari” before being drowned out by others shouting “randakka randakka” is definitely not something that you would imagine as continuing a classical Tamil tradition. Yet, strangely, it is.

This is A. K. Ramanujam’s “translation” of Kuruntokai 119, from here.

What He Said

As a little white snake
with lovely stripes on its young body
troubles the jungle elephant
this slip of a girl
her teeth like sprouts of new rice
her wrists stacked with bangles
troubles me. read more

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