(photo by Joseph Pascale)
Joseph Pascale on DB9’s “The Bull’s Eye” by Inderjeet Mani
In this next entry taking a look at past Drunken Boat literature that deserves another read, I find myself in DB9, reading “The Bull’s Eye” by Inderjeet Mani, a story that begins in India, travels to Switzerland, and ends in Barcelona, Spain.
The narrative focuses on Rahul, who was born to humble parents in Kailashpuram, India. He is determined to improve his station in life, and a chance meeting with a woman from the Peace Corps gives him the opening he needs, landing him a job with the UN in New York, which turns into a prestigious position at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
Yet throughout the events of Rahul’s life, there is an ominous condition staring at him through the eyes of a bull. When he was a child, he had a frightening encounter with a bull that the doctors later classified as an epileptic episode. The doctors give him medicine to ward off seizures and tell him to stay away from animals, and even images of animals.
“He tried to follow the advice, but the bull was hard to avoid, its familiar snout and eyes intruding into his presence in waking moments as well as dreams.”
To make matters worse, the doctors in Switzerland warn Rahul that he may be building up a tolerance to the drug. Scenes of the bull are mixed in with the narrative, leaving the reader to wonder if it is a symbol of Rahul’s mysterious disease, or perhaps a metaphor for Rahul himself. The bull is also from humble beginnings and was picked on by the other bulls in his youth, but now it is becoming one of the prized fighting bulls.
On top of this, Rahul’s relationships with his wife and children are crumbling, and he’s left feeling like his entire life is a lie; that the promotions he worked so hard for at his job ultimately gave him no satisfaction. However, the reader is left wondering if these are the true reasons he flees to Barcelona, or if it has something to do with the vision of the god Shiva and his Bull that overtake Rahul when falls into the lake. The bull is Shiva’s mount and attendant, named Nandi, which means, “causing gladness.” Perhaps the bull is less ominous than its association with Rahul’s disease would lead the reader to believe.
“Barcelona had been an awakening… He loved it, the crazy Gaudis, the dirge-like music, the sun, the palms, the sitting in the cafes listening to the excited chatter of Spanish girls at the arms of darkly romantic men. He drank in the blue of the sea and the bronzed faces of old people, the bare-breasted old ladies washing themselves in the open shower at the beach.”
With a new life and a new love, Rahul seems on top of the world. But he’s arrived in Barcelona during the twilight years of Catalan bullfighting, and it’s only a matter of time before the reckoning between his disease and the bull.
I’ve just begun two very different books: the dense pages of Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852), so important in rousing anti-slavery sentiment. Just ahead of my students, I’m slowly digesting their assigned text,Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style by Virginia Tufte–enlightening for writers at any stage. I’m in the final snowy scenes of an American detective novel by Margaret Millar in German translation: Da Waren’s Nur Noch Neun–a page-turner for language improvement. And I’ve recently finished The Loser, by Thomas Bernhard, his mesmerizing extended rant about Glenn Gould.
Librotraficante Smuggles Mind-Altering Prose into the Southwest
Recent political events in the Southwest, where Arizona has outlawed any K-12 curriculum that “advocates ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals,” have ignited a literary protest of national significance. On Monday, March 12, a caravan of formidable authors including Sandra Cisneros and Dagoberto Gilb left Houston on a tour spanning San Antonio, Albuquerque, and Tucson, where it arrived Friday, March 16. Dubbed “Librotraficante,” the caravan is smuggling books by Chicano authors back into the state that has effectively banned them with the passage of Arizona’s HB 2281 and the Tucson Unified School District’s resulting ban of Mexican American studies.
Librotraficante is putting the spotlight on a policy that confuses classes with no overt ethnic prejudice for truly inclusive environments where writers and historical figures of all ethnic backgrounds and gender identities receive equal billing. This is, of course, not the case. Just as the status quo in literary publishing is not absent its covert representational biases, as evidenced by VIDA’s recent numbers, the status quo for K-12 curriculum carries a covert bias toward representation of certain ethnic groups over others, a situation that ethnic studies programs address head on. With teach-ins, press conferences, readings, and a roving taco truck that will distribute effectively banned books throughout Tucson this weekend, the vigilant Librotraficantes are asserting not just the rights of Chicanos, but everyone’s right to celebrate her or his culture within American institutions.
Nearly simultaneous with the debut of our soon-to-be released fifteenth issue is the opening of the Handmade/Homemade exhibition at Pace University, which DB contributing editor Deborah Poe is again curating, and which “includes handmade, homemade and letterpress chapbooks, one-of-a-kind editions, and broadsides.” (http://handhomemade.wordpress.com/)
Poe has also organized a “Handmade/Homemade” folio for this upcoming issue of the magazine, where you will find a wonderful selection of unique and innovative pieces.
There are two special events associated with the exhibition that our readers may find of particular interest:
–Pace University Opening/Reading, Thursday March 22nd from 12:20PM-1:20PM
A reading and opening take place Tuesday, 22nd at 12:20PM. Readers include Bushra Rehman, Jill Magi, and others to be announced. The reading takes place in Gottesman Room of Kessel Student Center.
–Pace University Bookmaking Workshop/Demonstration, Thursday March 22nd, from 4:30PM-6PM
Artist, writer, and educator Jill Magi provides a bookmaking workshop Thursday, March 22nd at 4:30PM in Mortola Library’s Birnbaum Room.
But even if you aren’t free on the 22nd, please come out and experience this wonderful collection — and keep an eye out for the launch of our next issue, complete with the Handmade/Homemade folio!
More details about the exhibition, provided by the organizers, can be found below:
Check out the poster below for some exciting events organized by the CT Young Writers Trust: