Monday, March 21

Teacher Man - Book Review

Book Name : Teacher Man
Author : Frank Mc Court
Genre: Memoir
My rating:3/5

I have raved and raved about Frank's earlier books,Angela's ashes and Tis'. I find his style of writing irresistible with dollops of self-deprecating wit. It's really surprising that this slim book took me almost 2 years to finish.Some books are just destined to get read in snatches , I think.

Synopsis from Goodreads

The author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis has been winning such superlatives since he broke onto the literary scene as a self-proclaimed "old man." In this third volume of memoirs, the Pulitzer laureate turns to one of his first loves, teaching. He describes his sometimes-bumpy coming-of-age in the classroom and explains its integral relationship with his writing career. McCourt's ability to fine-tune even short anecdotes eventually makes readers feel like partners in his apprenticeship

What I thought of the book:

I wouldn't say I loved it.It was entertaining in snatches and Mc Court's legendary squabbles with the corridors of power at schools gives a lot of scope for humour.Somehow,the book falls flat in stretches and was self-indulgent to the point of irritating me. Let me tell you more about the book. Mc Court reminisces about his teaching career spanning almost 30 years-a career that was spent among pimply teenagers surging with adrenaline in some of the meanest vocational schools in New York.Now,teaching teenagers is one heck of a challenge and more so if they are from some of the shadiest neighborhoods where education really isn't priority. Traditional methods of teaching English and creative writing would definitely not work with these kids.

Frank talks of the unorthodox methods of teaching he used like letting a class sing recipes ,taking his students to a potluck picnic (to introduce new gourmet related words in their vocabulary),asking the kids to write excuse letters and many such "fun" things.Oh,how i wish I had a teacher like Frank.Infusing fun into classrooms is a laudable idea ,but at times I really wondered what the point was. Was it just Mc Court's way of rebelling against the principals and review boards.Teachers have to stick to a teaching plan that is normally filed in beforehand,something Frank didn't believe in.He freewheeled in his classes and told the students stories of his Irish upbringing and his childhood impoverished conditions.

Frank has never shied away from exposing his deepest thoughts .In his first book Angela's ashes ,he barely manages to disguise the contempt he had for his father.In Teacher Man he takes us through his crumbling marriage and how one fine day after teaching hundreds and hundreds of kids for years,he finds himself in a dead-end job and in a rut. His hate-hate relationship with the Catholic church obviously gets mentioned (many, many times) in the book.What did impress me was Frank's unwavering belief that education was not about letting kids cram pages and pages of literature only to have them vomit it out in the exam,but was about equipping them to find their footing in the world- something Mona lisa smile and The dead Poet's society also talk about. Whatever Frank was not,he loved his students as individuals and not just as random kids sitting at random desks in a classroom.

Despite an engaging narrative,the book somehow didn't work for me in the way his first two books did. Frank just came across as a self-absorbed writer who just wanted to fill the pages of his book. Not as entertaining as his first two books.Maybe,I can't read books by self-absorbed writers any longer.. Overall,its an okay read. Not earth shattering,but a decent read that delves into the "business of education". I would recommend it to teachers and people who work with adolescents and would rate it 3/5.

I am off on vacation for a week and wont be able to read your posts. Have a super week and stay safe ,people.

Tuesday, March 15

South Indian Bride

Latest addition to the shop is this coy(maybe a little sad too) bride. Painted her with my wedding pics as reference.No,she doesn't look like me,but wears the sari and jewelery I got married in;-).

I'm going to be completing 3 years in blogland soon and am planning a giveaway. Other than that it's sweltering hot here and creative juices are drying up from all the heat ;-).. Oh, watched this movie Tanu Weds Manu and have a huge crush on Maddy(Madhavan). The movie itself is no great shakes, just a timepass flick. And,if Kangana Ranaut could stop acting,it would be a great boon to humankind.She's wooden,screechy and generously grates on the nerves.

Have a fab Tuesday !

Saturday, March 12

Kamadhenu in the city

Kamadhenu in the city. Acrylic on paper.

Sometimes when you go looking for something,you end up getting something else. A scavenger hunt at the local waste paper Shop lead me to this magazine. I was not exactly looking for images of Indian Gods,but the shop had only a tonne of religious mags.Somehow,the image spoke to me and wanted me to take it home..

I wanted to use the picture of Kamadhenu in a collage,but didnt have the heart to cut it out,so opted to paint it instead,but with a little twist.Art has made me realise something about myself-that I always make the most torturous, circuitous interpretations of things , that I can never get myself to paint something realistic and that I am a fantasy-addict more than anything.The painting originally was supposed to have Times square as the background,but ended up as some mish-mash city. A few things like the JVC and Coke bottle adverts are all from Times Square.The rest has a more Chennai-feel to it. The yellow things in the background are autos(Chennai's own solution for torture). The size is larger than I normally prefer,but I am consciously trying to scale up images on bigger sized canvases.

A little about Kamadhenu(lifted right out of Wiki ;))
"Kamadhenu (Sanskrit: कामधेनु [kaːməˈd̪ʱeːnʊ] Kāmadhenu), also known as Surabhi (सुरभि Surabhī), is a divine bovine-goddess described in Hindu mythology as the mother of all cows. She is a miraculous "cow of plenty" who provide her owner whatever he desires and is often portrayed as the mother of other cattle. In iconography, she is generally depicted as a white cow with a female head and breasts or as a white cow containing various deities within her body. All cows are venerated in Hinduism as the earthly embodiment of the Kamadhenu. As such, Kamadhenu is not worshipped independently as a goddess, and temples are not dedicated to her honor alone; rather, she is honored by the veneration of cows in general throughout the observant Hindu population"

Have a super weekend..

Thursday, March 10

Baggage and Deer woman -collages on paper

Baggage.. Big ones,small ones,Hang-ups,nasty ones,hurtful ones..Don't we all carry some unhealthy attitudes,ideas and opinions inside our hearts? That is theme for this collage(3rd in the Penn series). The Octopus on the girl's head signifies the stronghold such baggage has on us. I've used acrylic paints,water colours,pens, wax crayons and charcoal pencil on this one. Collage elements are from a glossy women's magazine..I sold the prints I had made ,but the original is still available.Size: A4.Done on cartridge paper.

4th in the Penn series,the inspiration for this was the picture of a lotus pond i saw in a magazine. the deer and the woman's headgear fitted well for the series. Acrylic ,pens ,wax crayons on paper.The original is available.

Tuesday, March 8

Peep in for a quick hi and update

What's been cooking in blogland?. I am back after a few weeks of disappearance which can be attributed to an exhibition I had a few days back at Vanilla Place in Chennai. I managed to sell some prints and Sumati original,so it went okay ,I guess.More than anything,it was good fun to meet people who are passionate about their crafts.I did bump into a few people from the blogland.Yeah,the world is really small ,if you think about it. I didn't take too many pics of the exhibition and stalls,so posting a few which I did..

Stall next to mine.. Can you believe this lady is a grandmother? She had the most amazing winebags made out of kerala Mundu fabric..yummy stuff!

Other stalls.The Madras Terrace house was there with their Kitschy accessories and clothes and some amazing jewelery was on sale..I have participated in exhibitions before ,but this was good fun.

Pics of some prints I did for kiddies..

My etsy shop is up and has 4 prints listed.Traction is low,which I am okay with as of now;-).

Have a wonderful week everyone..