Friday, 27 July, 2012

A la recherche du ciel Part-II : Spell & Bound, SDA Market

I went to Spell & Bound last sunday, the charming bookstore in SDA market (opposite IITD). The moment you walk in, the book-lined wall will delight you. I wished there was a moving ladder and I could just keep sliding from one end to the other. But when I got closer, I couldn't read the titles of the books that were up above the world so high!  And I need to be able to take a book out without assistance from a long-legged shop assistance. But it was not to be. The book selection was good though. More Kafka, Murakami, Pamuk than Shledon, Archer and Grisham. Though it was a planned visit, I hadn't prepared for it. What this means is that I didn't have a list of books I wanted to buy or a Test Book*. So I ended up picking Anil's Ghost for Ondaatje's poetic prose, "The art of fiction" by Ayn Rand purely because I didn't know she had written such a book (or more precisely, given lectures on such a topic) and The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction (the first one) for its beautiful cover illustration. I believe you should judge a book by its cover but not punish it. And I made my friend buy The book which must not be named (Part-I).There is a tiny cafe on the first floor and maybe if I was lingering over coffee and dessert reading a book I might have liked the book shop more. But for that I have Full-Circle and Cafe Turtle.It does have a basement section but I think that it is mostly children's books and "special interest" topics. I confess I was in a hurry but honestly it wasn't love at first sight. And unlike Joey, it was too vertical and I wanted it to be more horizontal. So the search continues..

* Test Book : It is a book which I have not been able to find in bookshops and which is my test for the how far from Chetan Bhagat and Dan Brown the bookstore is willing to go.

P.S. I have nothing against Sheldon, Archer and Grisham or Dan Brown and though I do have something against Bhagat, I have read almost all of their books. (Except Brown. After the Da Vinci Code, I just couldn't). It's just that I'm moving on.


  1. What do you have against Chetan Bhagat?

  2. If I think rationally, I can't objectively say Chetan Bhagat has done something to offend me. But I am free to have an opinion and I feel his books are just examples of bad writing. They read like Bollywood scripts converted into stories. And worse, those Bollywood movies which producer/director parents make to launch their previously ugly/fat kid who has now become hot because of power yoga and vegetarianism. Anyway, the fact that he gets to write about national issues and policies in the Sunday Times of India right in the middle of the editorial page (just because he is popular) destroys the sanctity of that page. It just promotes his add-water-and-heat type of writing which I don’t like. His work screams mediocrity at best. Maybe it's just a case of sour grapes that his bilge gets published. I know it isn't justified but there it is, I just don't like him.

  3. I just wanted to know, because it surprises me that I only get to hear bad things about him but he's still, if sales are a parameter of popularity, India's most popular writer. That's a contradiction that intrigues me.

    Personally, I read his first two novels - Five Point Someone and OneNight@theCallCentre on one particularly boring day, and although I didn't like them enough to want to read another novel of him again, I didn't really pull my hair reading them. I have never read is TOI column, but some people say it's better than his novels. I don't have anything against him because I think of him more as a businessman than a writer. There are scores of businessman who are really successful and really dumb. Bhagat is another successful businessman and maybe not as dumb.

    This is unrelated to our discussion but one theme that I think runs in all his work is that the girl hits on the boy, whereas in real Indian life it is invariably the other way around. I have a sneaking suspicion it gets him good male readership.


    1. That is a good way to think about. He has a product and he is selling it. No crap about literature or writing. And yes I guess its a marketing ploy.. hehehe..

  4. Some people are so touchy about Mr. Bhagat. I mean he is the harbinger of the modern descent of Indian literature( strictly referring to the last decade with a few exceptions of Manu Joseph and Jerry Pinto).

    Coming to the bookshop, I visited it a month back. The book collection that greets the eyes at the entrance is very refreshing.But I personally didn't have a good experience there, partly because of the lady behind the desk. The moment I entered the store, she asks me, rather crossly" what volume do you want?". I am taken aback, I say" Can't I just stroll and look at the volumes and then pick up if I like one". But the lady persisted and asked again " Any particular volume you are looking for".So i rack up my brain and then say" Marcel Proust, the way by the swann's". She subsides and tells me that they don't have that particular volume. After this, I begin my tour. The fiction is, as you have pointe out, fills the ground floor. But the basement, has a pretty good collection of philosophy and history. I myself got a volume of Eric Hobswamm, In Cold blood by capote and the bad girl by llosa from there. Although I would like to visit the bookstore again (sans that lady), but the Jorbagh bookshop is better preferred, any day.


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