The Shoat Statements

Random musings by the multiple voices inside my head.

I was filling out some forms in the staff room today, and there was this guy - let's call him 'Jack' - who had come from the head office for some reason, and he was speaking to my (Hungarian) boss - let's call her Andrea. He had all our attention when he said "Andi, you never told me about how weird the prostitutes are in Budapest".

Andrea looked at him with the goldfish look - "Weird?" asks she.

Jack went on to explain to all of us: apparently, in other countries, you know who a prostitute is when you see them. They hang around street corners, sluttishly dressed, just waiting to be picked up.

Not so the ones in Budapest, apparently. In Jack's own words:

"You walk down the street, and stop by an outdoor cafe, or a pub. A woman is seated outside, having a beer. Hello, she says. What is the natural human reaction to hello? You reply - hello. The woman is being friendly, you think. Then she asks - sex?"

We were rolling on the floor laughing! I could almost picture the scene.

Jack said that these women were apparently prostitutes - according to him, they were more like undercover prostitutes.

Andrea's reply? "Oh, they might have been Ukrainian. Hungary got down prostitutes from Ukraine to work the streets because Ukrainian prostitutes handled the cold better and were able to stand outside for longer."

Two books, same industry, different topics... similar agendas?

Didn't know the Sri Lankan literary world could get so interesting.Autobiographies I understand, and with it the naming and shaming game,that becomes part and parcel of a true story, though usually with enough dramatizations to blur the line between fact and fiction.

But a thinly veiled work of 'fiction' to take potshots at people you don't like? That's just cheap, thinkst I. Of the two books in question, I haven't had the pleasure to read either, though I have read one of the early drafts of one. For simplicity, let's call the books 'A' & 'B'.

One friend called 'A' well-written and entertaining, though it doesn't take away from the fact that it is a book that takes pot shots at personae non gratae, frequently presenting fiction as fact and vice versa.

Another read 'B' and had this to say (I'm quoting verbatim here) :

He thinks that just because he backdates an incident 40 years and changes a few names, no one will know.

You know, that book is so bloody corny, just slightly below the drama level of 'Bold and the Beautiful' - there's a line that goes (upon which reading I fell on the floor) :"Did you sleep with my husband?"

And the title really takes the cake - (it should be) "His life, in third person".

Which makes me wonder what the point of such books are. It doesn't take much to write events as is, and just change a few names - hell, even I could do that. (I don't know how good the actual writing is in either books, so I'm going by the comments made by my friends).

But if you are going to talk about real people and real (as well as fabricated) events, albeit with changing few basic plot points, why not be man enough to own up to it? Why not say it is autobiographical, or at least semi auto biographical? Because that is the truth of it.

How sad to not have enough balls to stand by fact, and hide behind the banner of fiction.

And if the characters have been picked out of the flora and fauna of one's own life, I guess the entire duty of characterisation as an author becomes wholly unnecessary. I'm guessing neither 'A' nor 'B' will provide future generations with Lady Macbeths, Michael Henchards or even Charlie Browns.

Now moving on to the main point I wanted to make. People are all up in arms at the publication of 'A', yet are unseemly quiet when their friend publishes 'B'. So what differentiates two books identical in all the intrinsic points? (for the record, I think neither books should have been written, let alone published, in the manner that they have)

I guess anything goes, as long as it is done by a friend...aaah, the hypocrisy of people.

Was chatting with a friend and recommending her some books she should read, and ended up giving her my top ten 'must reads'. All things considered, I thought I'd post the list here, while rejuvenating my blog.

Back to the list. This is a rather varied list, jumping continents, time periods and genres, but it is my top ten favourite reads, and probably forms the books I would take with me onto a deserted island. They are in random order, but are my absolute favourites, and I've read each of them more than a few times.

The changes I made is replacing  'Crime and Punishment' with number 6, because while I would put the former on  for a reading list, I prefer the latter book and replacing 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison with number 9. Doubtless ' Beloved' is the better book, but it just is not a book I would want on an deserted island with me - it will certainly give me more nightmares than any demon ever could. Besides, I love 'The Exorcist' waaaay too much not to include it here.

Feel free to add your own recommendations.

The List (in random order):

  1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  2. Sophie's World - Jostein Garder
  3. Hamlet - Shakespeare
  4. Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
  5. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  6. The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  7. Foucault's Pendulumn - Umberto Eco
  8. The Moor's Last Sigh - Salman Rushdie
  9. The Exorcist - William Peter Blatty
  10. The New York Trilogy - Paul Auster

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Be true to your heart, and true to your conscience.

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