Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quiz Time

It's Q day. The quirkiest and quite the most confusing letter of the alphabet. I was in a bit of a quandary regarding my post for the day but then I'm no quitter. 

And so this is what I came up with - a famous authors' Quote Quiz.

Here are some of my favourite quotes from some of the cleverest authors. Some you'll surely recognise, some that'll make you smile and some that'll have you nodding your head in agreement. 

Check out how many you can fix to a name and a face.

1. If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were.

2. Big Brother is watching you. 

3. Several excuses are always less convincing than one.

4. To say 'I love you' one must first be able to say the 'I'.

5. My books are like water; those of great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water.
6. To be a successful father... there's one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years.

7. I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.

Oh, 'tis love, 'tis love that makes the world go round.

9. To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.
10. A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.

11. When asked, 'How do you write?' I invariably answer, 'one word at a time.'

12. Never have more children than you have car windows.

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.

14. God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.

15. To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

1. Richard Bach
2. George Orwell
3. Aldous Huxley
4. Ayn Rand
5. Mark Twain
6. Ernest Hemingway
7. Jerome K. Jerome
8. Lewis Carrol
9. Oscar Wilde
10. Jane Austen
11. Stephen King 
12. Erma Bombeck
13. George Burns
14. Rudyard Kipling
15. e. e. Cummings 

So was your favourite quote on the list? No? Well then share it with me here.
How did you score on the quiz?

And before I forget - here's Monday's clue. This author was a real-life James Bond before he settled down to writing. What's more, he tops mine, as well as my kids', list of favourites. Quick now tell me who he is.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.

Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Pearl S Buck

I discovered Pearl S Buck quite by chance in a bunch of long forgotten books left behind by my aunt. I read The Good Earth and Letter to Peking. That was my first introduction to China, a country that intrigued me no end. I then thought they were written by a Chinese author, so authentic were they in their portrayal. I wasn't too far from the truth. Buck spent much of her life in China. 
I loved her simple story telling style. Much later I found that she was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Her life

Pearl S Buck was the daughter of American missionaries who lived in China. They came to the US for her birth and then moved back when she was merely three months old. That remained her home for almost 40 years. Till she was almost 15 she had a Chinese tutor who taught her not just the language but also about great Chinese thinkers like Confucius. Chinese was her first language. She was also a huge fan of Charles Dickens and reread him almost every year.
After she married John Lossing Buck she moved to a small village in China. There they lived among the poorest of people and it was these people who figured in The Good Earth. The couple had a daughter Carol who was diagnosed with an illness PKU. Buck was immensely saddened by that and by the fact that she couldn't have any more children. She left Carol in America where she could be well looked after and returned to China. It was to enable Carol's care that Pearl started writing. 
She adopted 7 children and remained a champion for adoption of Asian kids all her life.

Her subjects

Since she knew China best she decided to make that her subject. And so East Wind West Wind about a Chinese girl who learns about the Western world was written. The Good Earth was her second book. Said she, “I used to say to these young people, “Why don’t you write about your peasants? They are wonderful people”. And they would say, ‘Oh nobody would be interested.’ And so I said well I’m gonna write that book then. If none of you will do it, I will write it. So I wrote ‘The Good Earth'.

The Good Earth

Pearl S Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for this book. It tells the story of a Chinese man Wang Lung and his wife O Lan. It is the story of the rise and fall of his fortunes - his struggles with famine, his abject poverty that forces him to beg and steal and finally his rise again.
A big reason for the book's amazing success was its timing. It was published during the time of the Great Depression and to people in America it was offered some consolation that there were people worse off than them. 
Of course there were critics. They maintained Buck painted too simplistic a picture of the country, that the book was no authority on China and the Chinese way of life. They said it was just about one kind of China at one period in time. That was of course true. However in the absence of much popular literature on China during that time, her books did remain an authority on the country. 

Are my clues getting too simple or am I in the company of the best read people? ShivaSuzySreeja... good going. And I thought Pearl Buck wasn't a popular choice.  

As for tomorrow's clue do not wrack your brains friends. It's a surprise, a surprise you'll like, I hope. So take a break from the guessing and drop back in tomorrow for some fun.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.

Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Orwell, George

1903 - 1950

If you’re a writer you could not have missed this author.. Eric Arthur Blair.. or George Orwell and his famous rules for writing. Two of his most famous books Animal Farm and 1984 are stuff that’s taught in classrooms.

Animal Farm, inspired by the Stalin Era in the Soviet Union is an easy interesting read with way deeper connotations. However, I have to confess, I found 1984 extremely depressing. The dystopian totalitarian state Orwell describes in his book is so suffocating, so frustrating that I put down the book often only to go back to it looking for that one tiny spark of hope but none came. That is not to say it isn't a powerful read. Sometimes you need to delve into the uncomfortable too. This was one such.

His life

Orwell was born in Motihari Bihar in British India. His father was a British civil servant. He studied in England and joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. However soon he resigned to become a writer. He moved to Paris but had no success with his writing and had to take up menial jobs.  His first book Down and Out in Paris and London, published in 1933 talks of his experiences.

A few years later he travelled to Spain to fight for the republicans. He was forced to flee in fear of his life from Soviet backed Communists and turned into an anti Stalinist for life.

In 1945 he wrote Animal Farm followed by 1984. His other fiction works include Burmese Days, A Clergyman’s Daughter and Coming up for AirHe continued writing for various periodicals and also worked for the BBC.

He passed away in 1950 of tuberculosis.

His inspiration

Authors find inspiration in varied places for Orwell it came from “a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I set down to write a book, I do not say to myself, “I am going to produce a work of art’, I write it because ther is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing…” That’s quoted from him essay ‘Why I write’.

Since ‘being heard’ was his primary objective he kept his writing style simple. Yet he managed to leave an impact that stays with you for a long while. He aimed at making ‘political writing into an art’ and he did.

His essays

I discovered his essays pretty recently while reading Vinod Mehta’s biography Lucknow Boy, which by the way is also an amazing read. Mehta counts Orwell as his favourite author whose essays are ‘his bedside read’. That got me going and I found some very interesting ones..

He seemed to have picked up varied topics as diverse as..

Bookshop Memories  - I loved this one where he talks about the kind of people who came to him while he worked at a book shop, the kind of books they read versus the kind of books they bought. Also how working at the bookshop put him off books – even that wonderful smell that we all love.

A nice cup of tea – A tea lover himself he talks about how to make that perfect cup of tea.. a fun read.

The Hanging – A chilling account of his Burma days when he witnessed a hanging.

… And many many more. Check them out here.

My dear friend Shilpa of A Rose is a Rose is a Rose got in first and got Orwell right.
*Clap clap clap*

Tomorrow's author was born in American but spent most of her life in China and that's where she picked her stories from. Oh and she's the winner of the Pulitzer Prize as well as the Nobel prize for Literature. Guesses anyone?

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.

Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Nicholas Sparks

Born December 31, 1965

“The first thing I did when I sold my book was buy a new wedding ring for my wife and asked her to marry me all over again”. Aww.. isn’t that romantic? But then it has to be, coming from an author who writes the most romantic stories. That’s Nicholas Sparks. I first read Message in a Bottle and loved it right away. Interestingly, he refuses to be slotted as a ‘Romance writer’. But for me he’ll always remain master of mush.

Slow start

Success took a while to come to him. While in college he wrote two novels that never got published. He gave up writing and turned to other careers including real estate appraisal and waiting at tables. Five years later he co-wrote a non-fiction book that got published. However that wasn’t really the start of his writing career. He went on to sell pharmaceuticals. While on the job he wrote a book in his spare time, inspired by his wife's grandparents with everlasting love as it's theme. Luckily for him, that book was picked off from the bunch of unsolicited manuscripts by a publisher's assistant and Sparks landed his first book contract for The Notebook.

Since then he has published 17 novels, 8 of which have been made into films. How's that for success?

Message in a Bottle

My favourite, however, remains Message in a Bottle. It was his second book. In the film Kevin Costner as the grieving widower is just perfect. I was heartbroken at that very sad ending apparently like many other readers. I couldn’t believe real life could ever be that cruel. However, Sparks says the book was inspired by the life of his father. When Sparks’ mother died his father was shattered. He wore black for four years and turned a recluse. It took him seven years to get into a new relationship and finally he found someone and was engaged. Two weeks later he died in a car crash. That’s where the story came from. 

He says the message he's trying to put across is not a tragic one. Rather, it is one of hope - that people do get second chances at loving. Sigh!

First: A round of applause for the lady who got Nicholas Sparks right Sreeja Praveen. She blogs at The Alter Ego. Do drop by people. Take a bow Sreeja. 

Now for tomorrow: My next author is miles away from mush and romance. This clue should give it away - one of his most famous protagonist is an animal named Napoleon. So tell me now.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.

Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.



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