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Feb 28, 2017

READER: "Out come is not the point' - Geraldine Brooks in Pulitzer Prize winning book "March"

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“I think we are rare creatures in that we can observe and marvel at the universe and ask questions about our purpose.  That is enough for me.” - Geraldine Brooks

I remember, when I met Geraldine Brooks at Hindu Literary Festival in Chennai for the first time, we discussed another author’s comment that the written words are not cathartic. And I was happy to note that she disagreed to it as well. I sincerely believe that what we write or read, at a very deeper level affect us and our thought process, emotions and feelings. And that’s exactly what I found while reading Geraldine’s book ‘March’ as well. 


It changed the way I thought about people I have been reading about in her book ‘March’ like Emerson, Thoreau as well as about the American Slave History. I could also relate to the storyline, as the way she structured the plot, weaving her way into past and present, is the kind of style I wrote in my book “Songs of the Mist”.

There are so many things from her book I learned, like the way she describes nature or the way she wrote about physicality of the characters, specially her characteristic style of writing about feelings, specially the erotic feelings without being sexual…

"... yet I could not let go of her. I felt like Peleus on the beach, clinging to Thetis, only to find that, suddenly, it was she who held me; that same furnace in her nature that had flared up in anger blazed again, in passion." - Geraldine Brooks in ‘March’
At the Hindu Lit festival in Chennai

But what I could relate to the most was the conclusion…

“You are not God. You do not determine the outcome. The outcome is not the point.” - Geraldine Brooks in ‘March’

Bhagavad Gita’s most famous shloka talks about that too. We are to perform our duties, act as per our nature and not worry about the fruits of our actions. And the reason, I relate to it deeply, is that in my book the Monk says the same thing to the young boy, who is running away from pain and heartbreak.

Meeting Geraldine Brooks in Chennai...
“Can you give any action more than hundred percent of your striving? If not, then why worry? You just could not give two hundred percent. So once you are done a task with your hundred percent efforts, dedication and sincerity do not worry about the result. Move on. Instead of worrying, you should focus on other actions required of you. It is in the nature of nature to provide you with the result as no action goes waste.” - The Monk in “Songs of the Mist” (Pg 154)

And as I come to the end of Geraldine Brooks book 'March', she shared an important thought and a solution, which is universal in nature as well. The following lines from her book gives me hope and happiness...

… there is only one thing to do when we fall, and that is to get up, and go on with the life that is set in front of us, and try to do the good of which our hands are capable for the people who come in our way.says the character 'Grace' in the Book ‘March’

I enjoyed meeting her and reading her book. Here is part of my interaction and some of the wonderful thoughts from her Pulitzer prize winner book ‘March’. Hope you will also enjoy reading it…

BRIEF NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In her library
Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, attending Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald for three years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental issues.

In 1982 she won the Greg Shackleton Australian News Correspondents scholarship to the journalism master’s program at Columbia University in New York City. Later she worked for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. In 1990, with her husband Tony Horwitz, she won the Overseas Press Club Award for best coverage of the Gulf War. The following year they received a citation for excellence for their series, “War and Peace.”  In 2006 she was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University.

She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her novel March. Her novels, Caleb’s Crossing and People of the Book, were New York Times best sellers. Her first novel, Year of Wonders is an international bestseller, translated into more than 25 languages and currently optioned for a TV series produced by Andrew Lincoln. She is also the author of the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire, Foreign Correspondence and The Idea of Home.

Brooks married fellow journalist and author Tony Horwitz in Tourette-sur-Loup, France, in 1984. They have two sons– Nathaniel and Bizuayehu–two dogs, three alpacas and a mare named Valentine. They live by an old millpond on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and spend as much time as possible in Australia.
- Text curtsy Author's Website

HER INSPIRATIONS
I love literature; I always have.  I write first for myself--a book I would like to read.  It seems to take me about three years to write a novel, but it’s hard to say because there is a long period of thinking about a book, even while working on other projects, before one sits down to write. 

HER CHALLENGES
For me the challenge is to decide who tells the story, and to clearly hear that narrative voice.

SOME INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT HER
With Alpacas
Animals are a very important part of enriching life for me, so we have dogs, alpacas and a horse.  I also love to cook, and adore nature, so I’m lucky to live by the sea and woods.

QUOTES FROM THE BOOK
“I had been there, one a spring morning, wherein the fog stood so thick on the river that it looked as though the bowl of the sky has spilled all its milky clouds into the valley.”

“It is a mountebank, this river. It feigns a gentle lassitude, yet coiled beneath are the currents that have crushed the trunks of mighty trees, and swept men to swift drowning.”

“Swiftest hint of a smile I believe a human face can make - like a tic, almost -before her countenance returned its accustomed gravity.”

“Though his was the soft hand of a man unacquainted with physical labor, his grip was almost painfully firm, as if he wished to leave in no doubt of his power. It was, I thought, the overzealous handshake of a boy playing at being a man.”

View of her garden
“To me, the divine is that immanence which is apparent in the great glories of Nature and in the small kindness of the human heart.”

“But it is a hard thing when a man is ruined by the very idea that most animates him.“

“If there is one class of a person I have never quite trusted, it is a man who knows no doubt.”

“The brave man, the real hero, quakes with terror, sweats, feels his very bowels betray him, and in spite of this moves forward to do the act he dreads.”

“I now felt convinced that the greater part of a man’s duty consists in abstaining from much that he is in the habit of consuming.”

“I was overcome with a rush of confused emotion: delight at the sensation of my first kiss, mortification at my lack of restraint, desire to touch her again, to touch her all over, to lose myself in her. Alarm at the potency of my lust. And guilty awareness that I had an obscene power here. That if lust mastered me, this woman would be in no position to gainsay my desire.

“But this, also, true: I wanted her. The thought of her -arched, shuddering, abandoned - thrilled me to the core.”

“To believe, to act, and to have events confound you - I grant you, that is hard to bear. But to believe, and not to act, or to act in a way that every fiber of your soul held was wrong - how can you not see? That is what would have been reprehensible.” And even as I said this, I knew that if I stood again in the cattle show ground, and heard him promise to go to war, I would hold my peace again, even knowing what terrible days were to follow.”

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As I read her book, I realised that she has certain real life characters from the period like Emerson and Thoreau merged with fictional characters. She did explain the characterization in an endnote, but I was wondering, where one draws the line between reality and fiction. 

“I think one should probably stay within the known facts of their lives, but in a novel one has some liberty to play within these boundaries--to concoct additional dialogue true to the kinds of things they are known to have said or set down.  If one goes beyond that, I think one should change the names and then in an endnote say the character is “based on” the real person.  March is actually my second novel.  My first, Year of Wonders, has a character based on a real person, but I changed the name because I changed some facts and because we don’t have enough writings from the real man to know his mind sufficiently.  Same for my novel Caleb’s Crossing.  I kept Caleb’s real name but changed others where I changed known facts about them.” - Geraldine Brooks

She usually works at home. She moves around depending on the seasons. Mostly she works in her study but sometimes in winter, she sits in the kitchen at the table near the fireplace, and in summer in the garden under a shady apple tree.  When not working on her novels she said, tries to help her younger son, navigate the world of adolescence. 

She has just started a new historical novel set in three time periods: 1860s, 1940s and present time.

HER FAVORITE BOOKS
GENRE: I love all kinds of genres, including science fiction/speculative fiction. 

1. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, which is a deeply felt, gorgeously written meditation on love, family, spirituality and history.

2. Jane Austen’s Emma because it is so perfect in its portrait of a single individual in her society.


TO BUY HER BOOK ‘MARCH’ CLICK HERE


– Shashi 
CEO & Partner ICUBE Projects
Speaker | Author of “Songs of the Mist” & "Kuhase Ke Geet "
Haiku Poet | Writes India’s #1 Spiritual Blog “Shadow Dancing With Mind
(Global Ranking #36)


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Shashi
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya


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