Notes from the Bookshop 2 (or Why I’m all set to agree with Orhan Pamuk and AA, or My first Robertson Davies!)

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Penguin Classics)

My notes from the bookshop will, from now on, be numbered and — at most times — be unimaginatively unadorned. But occasionally, as on this occasion, I’ll have a parenthetical thought to add.

Other Colours

Ever since I read Orhan Pamuk’s essay — Everyone Should Have an Uncle Like This — in Other Colours, his beautiful “book of  fragments”, my reader’s fingers have been itching to go pick Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy off the shelves of the nearest bookstore; but the book just did not seem to be available anywhere. When I heard that the entire Penguin Classics Library is now available at the Landmark bookstore, I perked up, and today, went there with the sole intention of hunting down this elusive novel by an 18th century writer. And lo and behold, there it was! One of those rare occasions on which I was able to pick up the exact book that I had in mind. I think, then, that I’m all set to agree with Pamuk (well, I think I owe him an apology for not picking up The Naive and Sentimental Novelist), becuase Tristram Shandy has all things I value in a novel going for it; it’s sprawling, talkative, digressive, disorientingly fragmentary, and bottomless.

And yes, I’ve picked up my first Robertson Davies: Tempest-Tost. I hope I’ve made a good choice (AA?); it’s the first volume in Davies’s Salterton Trilogy. Of course, there are always subjective reasons behind a reader’s choice of a novel. In this case, I found it attractive that this novel has a theatre setting — the plot unfolds against the background of an amateur production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest — and has a Mathematics teacher as one of its characters (!).

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

In other news, Alain de Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work was fascinating to browse through. De Botton deliberately chooses an “eclectic range of occupations, from rocket science to biscuit manufacture, accountancy to art – in search of what make jobs either fulfilling or soul-destroying.” I was surprised to find an ‘aesthetic’ appreciation of a mathematical equation — describing the effect of gravity on transmission lines — in the section on Transmission Engineering.

And that’s it, in this edition of Notes from the Bookshop.

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