Lately I’ve been streaming a lot of Bollywood movies. I’ve always liked the dancing and music in these films and, of course, the happy endings. But the other night when I’d stayed up late to watch one with a really stupid plot — that had it been from Hollywood I would’ve turned off hours before — I realized that it’s not the music or dancing that keep me coming back for more . . . it’s the exuberance. The joy, man, I’m into the joy.
That’s what I want in every aspect of my life right now. I know being blissed out on a constant basis would be boring, but I want moments of that unabashed vitality and enthusiasm for life every single day.
I want it. I want it now!
In the Bollywood films, the camera pans around love-struck couples and then rises high above groups of dancers swirling in saris of hot pink, royal blue, new leaf green. I jump up from my couch and dance with them on my worn carpet in the privacy of my living room and I can almost feel the Indian sun warming my arms and shoulders, shining off my graying hair.
And do you know what? I want that same feel, that rush of delight, sometimes when I read. I want a laughing literary experience that doesn’t so much astound me with its wit or cleverness, the perfectly placed word or phrase — but that takes me on such a wonderful rapid ride I can hardly catch my breath.
Who am I kidding?
I want literary rides that take me so fast I don’t even think about catching my breath!
So much of what we write about here at Murderati has to do with control and thought and the wonderful mastery of creating excellent work.
But right now, I want to read books just for fun, for the giddy experience I inhale when I’m engrossed in my Bollywood movies.
So, please, today help me:
Where can I find exuberant writing?
(Oh, and if you’ve got Netflix and want to recommend some b-wood movies, that’d be fine too. Or if you know of some posted vids online . . . I’d enjoy those too!!)
This is really weird. Working Stiffs' Gina Sestak, a known Bollywood aficionado, wrote about this today, as well.
Pari, my first Hindu wedding (sit down for 450 people) featured that fabulous, joyful music, color, dancing and my South Asian friends then turned me onto Bhangra music, that has that feel and I play it when I want something uplifting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSJCv8g_7zc (small sample).
But how to capture that joy in each day? I mix a little Dalai Llama (compassion for others, and for yourself), with some space and peace from yoga (if I can get the memory to stick and get to my twice weekly classes) and then try to do at least one thing a day that is simply joyful, whether it is watching a sunset, or having a good meal, or connecting with a friend. Now, to apply that to the writing — while staying disciplined at the same time…letting myself read my favorite chapter that feels finished and solid to give me confidence to edit the others? Allowing myself the luxury of just thinking about one single paragraph and not feel I need to move mountains each day? To do some reseach delving…To write a poem instead (sounds like luxury to me sometimes). Not sure, I keep trying.
PS I also love some of the music from Slumdog Millionaire and play that really loud sometimes.
I don't know if I've ever read a book like that. Granted, I always reach for the rollercoaster ride of a thriller, but that doesn't mean I NEVER read other genres, and I can't think of a single book that has that exuberance you're talking about. Plenty of movies, no books. Bel Canto has a lot of joy, but it doesn't have the pace you're talking about.
Thanks so much for the link! I'll read it when I get home.
You are so wonderful. I'll check out the link later.
What I like about your answer though is how you addressed all my implied questions too. Inserting something daily that is simply joyful — in action, experience and work. Oh yes.
I think maybe we should write one . . .Or at least maybe I'll try since it's so much what I want. Wow. I like that idea a lot.
I know what you mean about exuberance. I tend to go for the dark stuff, but every once in awhile my soul craves a zany comedy (movies) or something like the Flavia de Luce novels by Alan Bradley. What a great voice–carries the novels. And Flavia's got an exuberant love for poisons. Does that count? 🙂
Do it, Pari!
I like the joy and exuberance, too. And the urge to get up and join in the dancing. There are few things we get to do as grown-ups that are really fun. Watching Bollywood is one of them.
I just finished Fanny Flagg's "I Still Dream About You". Her writing qualifies as exuberant, I think.
I think Ondaatje's books, at least some of them, have that "joy" feeling but not the "dark ones." The Secret Life of Bees was like that but I think the language has to have lift as well as the story. Go Pari, you are in that space to do it. And you have a willing feedback group. And I am going to think on this…
I commented this morning, but it didn't go through — maybe because there's a link?
I won't repeat it here, in case it shows up later, but I'm enjoying all the recommendations. It struck me that I don't know any exuberant books outside of my kids' bookcases . . .
I've never watched a Bollywood movie. I don't know why. Well, I don't watch many movies at all. Will have to make it a point to do so.
I'm with Sarah, the only exuberance I can think of is in children's books. Or maybe in the last few pages of certain romance novels.
Do it, Pari. Write one for us.
What wonderful comments and suggestions. Thank you.
I'm writing a book right now about a woman moving through the many stages of divorce. I'm in a really fun scene, but I wouldn't call it exuberant.
I'm going to think on this too! And, after I've spent some time with the kids, I'll come back to check out the links.
Sarah, if the link doesn't come through, send it to my website email . . . I'll find it in the next couple of days!
Thank you so much to everyone who commented today. It uplifted me on this manic Monday.
I had a hard time coming up with joyful book that weren't children's.
And even most of my favorites there — A Little Princess, I Capture the Castle — had plenty of tragedy.
Most of what I read is a bit dark.
But Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Ramotswe series is joyful, although not in the unequivocal B-Wood way. More in the quietly, life-affirming vein.
I agree about those books and think that's one of the many reasons they're so popular. (BTW: My childhood favorites mirror yours.)