a blank slate

a blank slate

Author: Priya

Nargles, Wrackspurts and Blibbering Humdingers.

When you think about your favourite novel, where do you really start? There are so many books that can be called memorable, that make you nostalgic of the time when you loved them. There are so many books that you’ll love even years later only because you loved them years ago. I remember when I was a kid and there was nothing more imaginative and creative than Enid Blyton’s stories. I also remember the countless Famous Fives and Five Find-Outers that I read. Back then, I couldn’t have imagined better books.



It’s hard to pick the most memorable book. Right from my childhood favourite, A Book of Brownies by Enid Blyton, to the books I read in my ‘I-Worship-Ayn-Rand’ phase, to the book I last read, Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter; it can be any of these! And it’s also hard to pick my oldest, most favourite book. But it’s only hard; not impossible.
Harry Potter. Yes, I am treating it like one whole book, one whole story. There’s nothing I have read, till date, that is more amazing, and more memorable than this book. It’s a classic, or it will be. If I think about it, some of my best memories are about this book or because of this book or even while reading this book.
I can think of a hundred reasons why I love this book, and they are all so obvious! It’s interesting, it’s fun, but more than anything – it’s different. Don’t tell me it’s not; don’t tell me it’s a copy of some book, don’t tell me Dumbledore’s exactly like Gandalf, only Gandalf’s better. That’s not why I call it different. No, I’ve read a lot of fantasy. But Harry Potter is realistic. It is believable. It’s an alternate world, yes, but it is not some outrageously different world. It’s actually pretty much like our own world, with magic in it. I think that makes it much, much better than most of the fantasy books I have read. There is an explanation for everything. It’s funny! Take mountaineering accidents, for example; who knew they were actually giants attacking people?! (Book 5 – Hagrid’s Tale). It makes you wonder if such things actually exist: not actually wonder, just consider the possibility. The feeling of “who knows?!”, that’s what I love the most about this book.
And there’s the way she writes, the quick wit, the stereotypical characters that you’ll find in every “Muggle” school as well (every class has a Hermione, a Luna, and an irritating pair of Lavender and Parvati), the adventure, the mystery, the way every piece fits – how all the books are interconnected, it seems as though she thought of all seven books together; it’s one whole story with seven books as seven chapters and Quidditch – who can think of anything more wonderful than Quidditch! Like I said, there are a hundred reasons.
So, when I say my favourite book is Harry Potter I think of reading the first book and falling hopelessly in love with it; endlessly talking about the books in school; the amazing Harry Potter quizzes and games and competitions; saying Lumos to put on lights(everyone does that!) or muttering Silencio when someone just won’t stop talking; waiting for the next book to release and dying to be the first one to read it so I could tell my friends the suspense; discussing what house we’d be in at Hogwarts; sitting in a boring Chemistry class wondering how helpful a Nosebleed Nougat would be right then; wishing I had Extendable Ears during vivas; forcing my father to read the book and seeing him get as hooked on it as me! I think many, many of the funnest moments in my life wouldn’t have happened if this book wasn’t there!
If you haven’t read/don’t like Harry Potter, I have to say, you are really missing out on a lot.

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Un-Dead Man Walking



Many people, specially my age(which, by the way, is 17), think that the “vampire craze” started as a result of the Twilight series (that’s what initially got me interested in vampires, true, but that’s just because I was very ignorant when it came to fantasy fiction; a thing I regret). Vampire myths and folklore are, actually, as old as the human civilization itself. Vampire fiction is rooted in the ‘vampire craze’ of the 1720s and 1730s; when the vampires were quite unlike today’s vampires.


Why these myths first came to be, can be explained by the natural, but in those days inexplicable, processes of death and decomposition. People often suspected vampirism when the body did not look decomposed; as the gases from decomposition caused the torso of the body to swell, making it look well-fed. This body, when staked, would deflate with a groan-like noise, as the gases escaped. The idea that vampires can only be killed with a wooden stake through the heart, however, is a mere co-incidence; as the dead body, which was assumed to be a vampire, was in a cemetery close to a church; and the priest happened to stake the body with a wooden cross, right through the heart(which “killed” the vampire, effectively). This also explains a vampire’s fear of the cross. Also, after death, skin and gums lose fluids and contract, exposing roots nails and roots and parts of teeth that were concealed inside the jaw; which were mistaken as sharp, claw-like nails, and fangs. Porphyria is a rare blood disorder, often confused with vampirism, where the skin of the sufferers is affected in directed contact with sunlight – making them synonymous to the “Creatures of the Night”. Rabies has also been linked to vampirism; a disease which can cause a drive to bite others and a bloody frothing at the mouth. Of course, these myths were fueled by regular sightings of dead family members and lovers at night, which were probably just hallucinations.


From James Rymer’s Varney the Vampire, ofcourse, to Dracula by Bram Stoker and Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu, to the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice and Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, till the recent Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith and of course, the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer; vampires continued to captivate us, soon becoming not only terrifying, but also highly attractive and alluring.

It is safe to say, of course, that Twilight is not one of the best books about vampires. I wouldn’t even call it a great book otherwise, vampires or no vampires; but since I’m discussing vampires right now, let’s leave aside the too much use of adjectives, too many repetitions, too shallow/predictable characters, and basically the fact that they are four books of nothing, really. So when you are bad at all these things, you could at least get your facts right; i.e vampires don’t sparkle, vampires have fangs et al. And, finally, if you can’t do that either, come up with your own story!! But no, Twilight has everything from Charlaine Harris’s motorcycle gang of werewolves, to LJ Smith’s, well, kind of the whole same story, and also Edward Cullen: Twilight’s very own, rather badly copied version of Joss Whedon’s Angel: the good vampire who ran around saving people’s lives, the messy hair, the handsome, pale face, the falling in love with a human girl, all of it, and, not to mention, the fact that Meyer keeps calling him “angel”. It is also copied, apparently almost scene to scene from a book called The Nocturne by Jordan Smith: I haven’t read the book myself, but this was enough to convince me. And it has still sold around 100 million copies worldwide. Of course, in a world where people like Miley Cyrus become famous singers, Stephanie Meyer was bound to get lucky.

What I am concerned with is how Stephanie Meyer has single-handedly destroyed the entire vampire genre. The world isn’t divided into people who like vampires and smart/sensible people. People who like vampires are not necessarily crazy teenagers who are obsessed with Twilight. Twilight vampires are not real (or precise: because vampires aren’t real anyway!).

Hey!



You usually start your blog with a “What got me into blogging” kind of an introductory post. In my case, the question should be “who” instead of “what”; and the answer is a rather long and uninteresting story. So, I’ll skip to the part where I write a bit about myself.

Apart from being overly obsessed with cats, I love reading (recently developed an obsession with fantasy fiction), writing, watching just about anything on TV, painting, birding, traveling. It’s usually things that I can do alone. I’m really shy; and honestly, quite terrible at striking up conversations. I just talk to people I know – talk a lot to them, though.

Writing a blog isn’t going to turn me from a reserved, likes-to-keep-to-herself kind of a girl into a social butterfly! But then, here I am; actually writing a blog post about not writing a blog till now – something that would have been out of question just a few weeks back. And this is what this blog going to be for me – a clean slate. Tabula rasa.