Happy birthday, Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie

Happy birthday, Salman Rushdie!

He is all of 67 today. What a pity a book he began with such brio has haunted him ever since.

Few books open as memorably as The Satanic Verses. I cannot imagine any other writer describing an air crash quite like him. After the plane explodes over the English Channel, the two protagonists, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, are the only survivors, found washed up on a snowbound English beach.

I have not read beyond the opening because I don’t want to get into any religious controversy. All religions should be respected. I don’t want to hear ill of any religion.

But the opening of this novel is unforgettable. The two characters falling from the sky, flapping their arms and singing as they fall, reminded me of Walt Disney and Mary Poppins. [Read more...]

The Circle’s a must for Google, Facebook users

Anyone who uses Google, Twitter or Facebook – and that’s practically everybody – needs to read The Circle by Dave Eggers. Fiction, but a chilling possible look into our future. Good book.

Actually, I am quoting somebody else to give my own views on The Circle, Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel. It is 1984 updated, with a Google-like company playing Big Brother’s role.

I thought it would be apt to use social media to review a book about social media. So here you see what others have been saying about the book on Twitter, Google Plus and in newspaper reviews.

Eggers was asked in a brief interview with McSweeney’s, a magazine he cofounded: “Is this book about Google or Facebook or any particular company?” [Read more...]

A Steve Jobs favourite

Autobiography of a Yogi

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda

I am reading what was probably the first book downloaded by Steve Jobs on his iPad 2. The book: Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, an Indian yogi who moved to America in 1920 and died in Los Angeles in 1952.

Steve Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson, saw the book on the Apple cofounder’s iPad 2 the day after the tablet was launched on March 2, 2011. Isaacson writes in his biography, Steve Jobs:

At his house the following day he was still on a high. He was planning to fly to Kona Village the next day alone and I asked to see what he had put on his iPad 2 for the trip. There were three movies: Chinatown, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Toy Story 3. More revealingly, there was just one book he had downloaded: The Autobiography of a Yogi, the guide to meditation and spirituality that he had first read as a teenager, then reread in India, and had read once a year ever since.

[Read more...]

The News: A User’s Manual

The public and the media both expect journalists to get their facts right, but is the concern for accuracy resulting in boring news?

Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton

Alain De Botton seems to think so.

According to him, journalists need some of the skills of writers who can get readers to read and relate to their stories.

In his book, The News: A User’s Manual, he finds reason for public indifference to foreign news.

The news has to be more compelling, he says, to interest readers and viewers. [Read more...]

Janis Joplin and Simon and Garfunkel

I am enjoying reading the early chapters of record producer Clive Davis’ memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life, where he recalls working with artistes like Bob Dylan, Simon Garfunkel, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Johnny Winter and Miles Davis.

Davis, who became the president of Columbia Records and later founded the Arista record label, made his name with Sixties artistes and bands.

Janis Joplin

Big Brother and Holding Company was his first major signing. He was wowed by their lead singer, Janis Joplin’s performance at the legendary Monterey festival in 1967.

[Read more...]