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Thursday, October 21, 2004

SHROUD

Read “Shroud” recently- a book by John Banville, over the weekend—a wonderfully written book with an interesting plot and an even more interesting narrative—threads woven contiguously of events in the first person and third person.. The main character, Axel Vander is not Axel Vander. He has unabashedly usurped the identity of another and has lived the lie for over fifty years. He is a master of the untruth ejaculated willingly and is a pathological liar who is an avowed recidivist. He is smug in his pride that he has shrugged off the past when a student’s letter arrests his attention to the fact that somebody knows….

His mental anguish, his delirious imagination, his splenetic thoughts are all masterfully recorded by the author. The book is about deceit, sorrow, treachery and sheer selfishness. The writing veers between the indulgent and the catatonic—reading bliss !!!

Character similar to a Mr. Lee in a Christie novel—we ignore that.

Saved from being recondite only by the strength of its narrative and the verbal elegance of Banville. Difficult language, prose—it must be said . A long time since I’ve reached for the dictionary while reading a work of fiction—some words stench the free flow of ideas and thoughts and that is by far the only flaw with the book. Overall, an 8 on 10. Really quite good !

Read somewhere that Australia has a different system of voting—First, Second & Third Preferences are the order of the day. Very simply, it works like this—after the person with the least number of votes is eliminated from the running, the Second preference votes are added to the respective candidates, and the winner is then determined. If required, then , the third preference votes are also pulled in.
There is a way for parties to make deals for these preference votes too.
This can work in India too—after all, it was my trusted Civics text in school that said that even if a person with 40% votes wins, it means he is not wanted by 60% of the electorate.

Off to Madras on Sunday. Had been drafting a commendation letter which had been okayed by all when I noticed in the nick of time that it read go the extra mule instead of mile. J
What an equine surprise that would have been !

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