Reading matter

Re-starting the practice of throwing up links to stuff I find across the internet [which was in abeyance because browsing time has been at a premium lately]:

#1. “It sucks,” decrees an Internet movie critic, sharing the most common aesthetic reaction in contemporary film criticism. In the viral salon of bloggers and chat-roomers, the finely tuned turns of phrase crafted by an earlier generation of sharp-eyed cinema scribes have been winnowed to a curt kiss-off. In cyberspace everyone can hear you scream. Just log on, vent, and hit send.

Thomas Doherty on how social media is dumbing down film criticism.

#2. In the Hindu, Sevanti Ninan has a take on the age of the internet social media and whether marketing is eroding its central character:

Of late there been increasing discussion on where and how Twitter fits into journalism. Last year Rogen Cohen wrote a New York Times op-ed on the tweeting of citizen journalists in Iran, questioning that they could replace the function of old fashioned journalism in a conflict situation: “ For journalism is distillation. It is a choice of material, whether in words or image, made in pursuit of presenting the truest and fairest, most vivid and complete representation of a situation.” That set off a discussion. A columnist on, Mike Masnick, put the difference well when he said that Twitter was acquiring its space in the journalism process by providing more for journalists to distil from. The Internet, he said, was a large ecosystem which was allowing more things to happen thanks to new tools.

The only problem is that in India old media like TV and print are so smitten by social media that they are no longer tracking what is threatening to swamp the larger ecosystem of cyberspace.

#3. Ever wandered into a bookstore and, while confronting the endless array of books, felt overwhelmed by a sense of your own relative illiteracy? Cathleen Schine, in the New York Times, knows just how that feels — and why that is not necessarily a bad thing.

#4. Also from the New York Times, a profile of Umar Kundi, the man behind the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore and an exemplar of the new breed of wired, tech-savvy terrorist.

#5. Increasingly, a lot of my reading has been surfacing through Twitter [my timeline] where friends have been, as is the nature of the medium, extremely generous in sharing links to interesting articles across the web. And then there are those occasions when someone says something that makes you stop and think. Vide a favorite writer, Susan Orlean, who recently posted this comment on writing:

Sometimes writing feels less like invention than discovery — as if the writing was always there and the challenge was uncovering it.

Exactly. Whenever you — okay, I — sit down to “write”, it feels like hard labor without parole. Against which, there are times when thoughts crowd your mind; at such times, open up the laptop, and the writing seems almost automatic.

And while on Twitter, an interesting analysis on the state of the tweet-linked world [one interesting takeaway among many is that India has in the last year emerged on the map as one of the 20-or-so most active locations worldwide]. And staying with writing for a beat longer, courtesy the Guardian, here’s a superb resource: top writers list their dos and don’ts for writing fiction.

And while on how-to-write, the advice that makes the most sense [from Issac Asimov, in this Chip Scanlan Poynter piece]:

“Rituals? Ridiculous! My only ritual is to sit close enough to the typewriter so that my fingers touch the keys.”

#6. Cover stories. That is to say, the stories behind 12 classic Esquire covers. The Floyd Patterson and Richard Nixon covers are my personal favorites. Yours?

#7. A great David Denby essay on Clint Eastwood, from New York magazine.

#8. Going forward, I suspect these link-posts will have dozens more links each day — but today is a day of two-plus hour phone conferences, so rounding this off with Ruchir Joshi on the Tendulkar innings [I know I said that subject is closed, but this piece is really worth your time]:

Serious aficionados of Hindustani classical vocal performances will tell you they can gauge how a maestro will perform that evening from the way he or she clears his throat, from how the first few notes emerge, from the curve of the back of the tabla player even as he sits unmoving through the alaap, from the serenity, or lack thereof, of the tanpura support and so on. Similarly, seasoned watchers of Pandit Tendulkar can sometimes tell, construe from what is happening around the Ustad, when a great rendition is about to unfold: the best fielders in the world will be just that much more tense — that ball, today, seeming to belong to the batsman as it repeatedly just misses their outstretched hands; the umpires will be quicker on their toes — that ball coming back past them just that bit faster; the fielding captain will be already murdering his chewing-gum, the last absurd man standing in the Cordon of Hope, having scattered from around him his posse of slips.

Got links? Share. See you tomorrow.