The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence
Me with my Mother

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Memory Trap: How Society Bleeds the Forgetful

Excerpts from my new book (a long essay), which is out on Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Nook, etc.:


If your memory is imperfect, loads of people and institutions gleefully profit from your weakness to extort whatever money they can from you. It is almost as if the world is set up to gouge us, to make superprofits from us. Rentals on storage spaces we are not using, phone connections in apartments we’ve long given up (but which we forgot to disconnect, or gave up trying to disconnect after being put on hold for 30 minutes—yes, I’ve been a part contributor to Verizon’s obscene profits), or for internet access in countries we do not even live in, because we moved somewhere else, didn’t make a phone call or get through the voicemail, return a key, or sign a document. But why does society treat us thus? Do we punish the blind by fining them or denying them their basic rights? Do we construct special obstacles to trip the physically handicapped so as to brutally remind them of their handicap, and of the burden they are to society? Do we construct trapdoors for the blind? 




Many late fees, such as late fees for taxes or late credit card payments, are unnecessarily harsh: a $35 late fee for a missed or late payment of $25, for example. To think that banks borrow billions of dollars at ridiculously low and highly subsidized interest rates from the Federal Reserve Bank, and then subject small borrowers, in a democracy, with such harsh penalties? 


Even more vexing, imagine this possibly theoretical situation: I have this feeling that there is a fabulous woman who I love, and who loved me, and she’s somewhere in this world, if still alive. All I know is that we met, had a wonderful time together, and promised to meet again, because at the time I was on an important journey, and simply had to go on. And much later, at a lonely time in my life, when I did have the time and freedom to meet anyone who felt warmly towards me, when I needed to connect with anybody at all who had a soft spot for me, I could not remember which country on earth it was that I met her and when it happened, let alone what her name, address, and telephone number were. Because, even if I had written it down somewhere, I had either lost it, or couldn’t find it in the multitude of bits of paper and diaries that I have. 

Yes, the addresses and other details (if any) of the people I’ve met are on five thousand scattered pieces of paper, jottings on the back of notebooks, and in various computer files, in three countries on two continents, and some of these addresses are no longer accessible to me because the operating system they ran on has long become obsolete, or the original software has been lost. I have no idea about who many of these people are, about which are the important ones to follow up and which not. In some cases, I forgot to put down the name, just noted down a phone number. In rare cases, I have tried sending out emails that say the equivalent of: “I have your address or email address on my list; sorry, I have forgotten how and when we met. Who are you?” Such emails are rarely fruitful. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Official Richard Crasta website is back!

Though its list of books may be incomplete, the official website is back after an outage of a few weeks. Here:
http://richardcrasta.com/
http://richardcrasta.com/reviews/
http://richardcrasta.com/links/
http://richardcrasta.com/biography/

It also contains a few blog posts, including my latest one on the subject that is on many people's minds: football: http://richardcrasta.com/why-brazil-costa-rica-and-the-african-countries-play-exciting-football/
A big thank you to my readers and supporters.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why Father's Day, Mother's Day ... Matter

I, for one, am grateful for "Mother's Day," which did not exist when I was growing up in India, and which I was introduced to only in America, where it has near-religious significance. Though nowhere as religious as Mother's Day (and possibly that's fair, because we don't spend nine months in our father's "womb", straining his resources and eating his food), Father's Day has begun to mean something to me too. Why? Because I'm a father--a proud father of three sons, whom I think of with love especially on this day. If you think Father's Day ought to be abolished, ask any father for his opinion. Fatherhood does not get the attention it deserves, and here is a day when people at least spend a few moments to take time off from the current obsessions of their culture, the media pap--nip slips, wardrobe malfunctions, stained dresses--to think about their fathers, and perhaps to wish them. (Other than that no father has ever given birth to a child, every father is unique, and all generalizations--including mine--are silly.)

Besides, why not fathers, since we have a Groundhog Day and a Secretaries Day, and so on? As for me, rationalist though I may call myself at times, just the words, "Happy Father's Day, Dad!" coming from my sons ... lifts up my spirits, makes me feel loved, is worth more than gold. If I can make someone immensely happy by just saying four words, why deny them that pleasure?

Besides, it's only because of this silly, acquired tradition that I managed to speak to my mother just before she became sick and was admitted to the hospital, only to die a few days later. So my last conversation with my mother, which was a lucky conversation--my mother had not been in the best of health, and sometimes, the connection wasn't clear, or she wasn't fully lucid--was full of love, dollops of tenderness, a dash of humor, real feeling, and her blessing. I had no idea it would be our last conversation, and I might not have called but for the almost unshakable feeling within me that if there was one person I ought never to miss calling, every New Year, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Nativity of Our Lady (a very big feast day among Mangalorean Catholics) and on her birthday (in addition to once every couple of weeks, when possible)--it was my mother. A very intelligent book I'm editing (I can't say more than that it's by an American author who's an Ivy League graduate of some distinction) suggests that the silly things matter, because they show that we care; little gestures show our consideration, function as reaffirmations of continuing love (which should never be taken for granted).

In this connection, I have published a few books relating to the theme of fatherhood (some serious and passionate--"Fathers and Sons, War and Love," for example; and a few playful), and you can find them at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Franz Kafka is Alive and Well in Latvia, and Madris is his Name

As a writer who puts his heart into his writing, I am delighted to be published in Latvia, and grateful to the people who found me and published me, in Latvia, in the Czech Republic (there was a second Czech publisher interested, but could not get my novel), and in countries such as Austria, Italy, Israel, and so on. I am even in correspondence with one of my Latvian readers, who found me on the Net. There are authors who give their books away for nothing, and there are other authors who do not even mind that they are pirated, so long as it means that they are being read, preferably by poor people who cannot afford to buy books.

However, I don't think of modern Latvia as a particularly impoverished country, and doubt that my Latvian publishers, who profited from my book (and deserve to), are either that contemptuous of writers and ethics, or so poor that they have holes in their socks and just one pair of shoes.  So I would really appreciate it if they paid me what was fair and due: for publishing me. Apparently they paid some con man, some completely unauthorized person I have never met, and argued that, therefore, they had paid me. Publishers wouldn't exist without writers, and should make it a principle not to hurt or cheat writers.  (A quixotic hope, given that it has also been an honorable publishing tradition to cheat authors--ever since the publisher of the Part I of Don Quixote cheated Miguel Cervantes of all of his royalties.)

So here's what I wrote to my Latvian friend, after being subjected to Madris's Kafkaesque logic, once again relayed through her back to me:

I can't believe that Madris is making less sense than a 5-year-old. If, one evening, you were to return to your home and find it occupied by strangers and say, "Why are you in my home, and why are you barring me from entering my own home?" And they say, "Well, we just bought your house from your agent, so we now own it." And you say, "Which agent? Who?" And they say, "Well, xxxx, who said he was your agent."

And you reply, "But I have never even heard of anyone like this xxxx in my life. Just because you paid this so-called agent money and he ran away with it, it does not mean that you own my house."

And this is exactly what Madris has done, and I tried to explain this to them, but they don't understand. I have never heard of this agent, and he never even contacted me, let alone paid me. So how can this man sell my book to Madris? And how can Madris say they paid me if they paid some stranger in some bazaar in Istanbul or Cyprus?

I don't think that any publisher in the world would fail to understand this simple logic, but Madris does not seem to: the book has been published without due authorization from the rightful copyright holder, and therefore they still owe the rightful owner the royalties. If they trusted some con-man and purchased the Brooklyn Bridge from him, it's not fair to make me (or Brooklynites) pay for it: we all make mistakes, and many of us are occasionally cheated by some crook, but we cannot demand that others pay for our mistakes.

I end with a prayer:

Our Kafka,
Who art Alive and Well in Latvia
Madris is Thy Name
May Thy Royalty Advance Come
To This Author on Earth
Before His Departure for Heaven.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Year Book suggestions: Author's Recommendations

Assuming you're an adventurous, open-minded reader who hates following the herd, perhaps you may like a few recommendations from among my many books? Well, here goes:

"Rife with inventive comic imagery as “A Confederacy of Dunces,” insightful, subtly searing as “Catcher in the Rye."--Amazon.com 5-star review

The Revised Kama Sutra is, despite its name, about much, much more than sex; but if you prefer the portion of it that deals with childhood, then I suggest One Little Indian, which is much shorter, and in which the emphasis is much more on childhood and growing up.

Shorter, and very different, is the next book, described as "hysterical" and "for the rebel in you" (equally funny, if you don't want the "parenting" parody, is The Empire Bites Back), on some platforms under the pseudonym "Benny Profane."



The Empire Bites Back includes all the humor essays of the above, except for the wisecracking child; it is also more political:



More serious, and a must for those who want to know who I really am at this point in time (also on Apple and BN) : Benzo Land: My Secret Life With Benzodiazepines, Psychiatrists, and Wonder Drugs

under a slightly changed title, or at Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/benzo-land-benzodiazepine/id770908985?mt=11


Or Eaten by the Japanese, which is loved by British readers and by nearly everyone who takes the trouble to read it?

Here's the link:
http://amzn.to/eWVexV 
or at Apple

Or, how about Impressing the Whites or The Killing of an Author (a sense of humor from start to finish"--The Week) for a contrarian voice, one that challenges the Establishment and the corrupt?




Ready to take a risk with something completely different? Try:



ALL OF THE BOOKS ABOVE ARE AVAILABLE HERE: http://Author.to/RichardCrasta 
or by searching Amazon & the other platforms for my name or my pen names: Vijay Prabhu, Benny Profane
  Barnes & Noble
or here
http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/richard-crasta/id421345553?mt=11  (Apple)
and
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/richardcrasta
I recommend, especially: 
IMPRESSING THE WHITES: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004VNMBLI 
http://myBook.to/B004UBFXFC 


For paperbacks, please check my website or my other blog post.

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