For awhile now, there’s been a murmuring in the background about onsite printing presses. Imagine walking into your local bookstore , ordering your book and it’s printed up for you on the spot. Harvard’s trying it. As is the Northshire Bookstore in Vermont. Now, rare books will become more readily available thanks to the Espresso Book Machine.
Monthly Archives: September 2009
No need to annotate Dan Brown. While many – and I am not among them – like his storytelling, it must be widely recognized that from a craft standpoint it’s bad writing. Linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum writes, “Brown’s writing is not just bad; it is staggeringly, clumsily, thoughtlessly, almost ingeniously bad.”
(if you’re not offended by profanity, check this out on the f-bomb – see, linguists can be funny)
The Telegraph has the 20 clumsiest phrases in Brown’s books (H/T The Anchoress). Chapter 4 of the Da Vinci Code has six of the spots on the list. The comments about the article are great. Amazing how so many attribute criticism to envy. Not always, people. Some of us care about the craft of writing.
Just to prove you can have both, Pullum suggests that if you like thrillers, read Henning Mankell.
Went to a great reading last night. Richard Lange read from his new novel, This Wicked World and Dennis Fulgoni read one of his short stories (the link takes you to another of his stories in Two Hawks Lit Journal) Check out Book Party if you’re in L.A. for future events. Speaking of short stories, Tim O’Brien has a great essay in The Atlantic. Don’t be boring! Too many short stories are. Dennis’ was not.
Commiserated with one writer friend about working under the pressure of an agent waiting. Should not be a bad problem, but there are all those pesky expectations and hopes you have to put aside or the next thing you know, you’ll be blocked. Another kicked my butt about not writing enough. Okay 3 pages a day. I still have 2/3rds of a page to go, so back to it. Now go read the O’Brien essay.
This is part of Project 2996 and I am posting a day early because tomorrow is my mother’s birthday and I will be leaving pre-dawn to drive down. I will leave it at the top all weekend. I’ve included all the obituaries I could find.
Stop and think about what we lost that day. His mother and brother are in Pakistan. No parent should have to see their child die, but they do. There’s no closure for such an event. If you are fortunate, you learn to bear it with the love of family and friends. There is a woman in Pakistan, a Muslim woman, who lives with the fact that her brilliant and successful son, so full of life and promise, was killed when a plane (full of terrified mothers, sons, uncles, bosses, etc facing their own death) was deliberately flown into the building where he’d gone for a meeting. Her son, Mr. Raja, made our country, our world, better. He did not have the chance to marry, to have children. She carries that grief all her days. We cannot forget. We lost inventions and novels and laughter and comfort and cures and films and solutions and bridges and music and future children that day. Mr. Raja made things better while he was here. We must not, we will not forget.
He’d gone there for a conference and was in Windows on the World. He was a 1996 graduate of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia. He had his MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory. His last call was to his girlfriend.
Occupation: TCG Software http://www.tcg-software.com/About%20TCG%20Software.php
Location: World Trade Center
mother: Asmat Fatima
nickname: Shamu, from his friends in Pakistan
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 14, 2001:
NO FAN OF FUNDAMENTALISM
Ehtesham Raja loved to party and loved his $70,000 BMW 740iL. He was a Muslim from Lahore, Pakistan, and worked for TCG Software in Bloomfield, N.J. Like many Muslims from India and Pakistan, Mr. Raja, 28, loved Hindi music. He sang it in the shower, and was also crazy about the Hindi movie star Amitabh Bachan.
His best friend in the United States was Maneesh Sagar, a Hindu from India. Mr. Raja talked about how some friends from Pakistan had become fundamentalists. “He hated how fundamentalism rears its ugly head,” Mr. Sagar said. “To all of us, religion is more a spiritual and personal thing than dogma.”
Recently, said Mr. Sagar, Mr. Raja was thinking of giving up partying and marrying his girlfriend, Christine Lamprecht, an American.
On the weekend before he was to attend a conference at the World Trade Center, he and Mr. Sagar went partying. They talked about their dreams, and at 5 a.m. ended up at an Indian restaurant for tea and tikkas, skewered lamb. “It was a guy’s night out,” Mr. Sagar said. And that’s how he would always remember his friend.
His birthplace: Lahore, Pakistan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lahore
His car: BMW 740iL
Comments from the 911 Memorial:
“He was very dedicated to his work, following up quickly and thoroughly, and I know that the dedication he demonstrated was apparent in all things that he took on.”
“worked at a start up in Connecticut – he was the best guy – encouraging everybody even in the worst hour!”
“My college years at Boston University were spent dashing back and forth from Boston to NYC on weekends only to go partying with Raja jee when he was an undergrad at Columbia…We explored New York City together…then LA.. then Vegas ..Hell even during High School at Aitchison we explored all of Lahore.”
“One time a famous movie star came to visit Aitchison she was beautiful… As we feasted our eyes suddenly Raja thanked me for being there to share that moment with him because he was of the view that any other person would be unable to understand the excitement that goes with seeing an attractive women. We being high school and then later college buddies had a strange bond and a level of understanding very rare in people of such different backgrounds. Raja was a big Sangeeta Bijlani fan and Later Raveena Tandon….and from his days at Columbia i had to suffer through all his girl friends and later before making a decision to marry Katherine he had a lengthy discussion with me. Trying to recollect that discussion i realized, if anything, he was an embodiment of the true spirit of America… devoid of any racial inclinations…a true beliver in freedom of expression and militant proponent of a diverse and global world view. A master politician and a shrewd business mind…he would research his material to the minutest of detail and had an amazing ability to market his ideas and convince people.His was the death was a global citizen. A 22nd century mind struggling with 21st century problems.”
The last to hear from Lahore-based Ehtesham Raja was his girlfriend. The 28-year-old financial analyst phoned her from the Windows on the World restaurant and said there had been “a bomb blast and that he had been thrown 10 feet.” He said he was trying to get out. He has not been heard from since. Raja, a graduate of Columbia University did his A levels from Aitchison College, Lahore, before moving to the USA. He lived in New Jersey and had gone to the WTC for a meeting that fateful day. Raja’s family members have flown in from around the world in an effort to find him. His parents and younger brother flew in from Lahore, his uncle from Canada.
They have trekked wearily across Manhattan looking for clues, any scrap of hope. His uncle Javed Rai says, “We have been to all the hospitals, the Red Cross and every New York City agency. We have given in his DNA sample. Hope is fading; it has been more than 12 days.”
Raja’s family says the Pakistani embassy has helped them a great deal but they have not been contacted by any Islamic organisation to date. Raja’s grandmother who raised him is shattered. The family prays for a miracle.
FROM COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY:
Ehtesham Raja, SEAS ’96
Published Sunday 30 November 2008 06:53pm EST.
Ehtesham Raja didn’t believe in planning ahead. A party animal at heart, Raja loved his car, a BMW 740iL; his girlfriend, Christine Lamprecht; and the excitement of New York. According to Shahab Alam, human resources head for TCG software in Bloomfield, N.J., where Raja had worked since February 2000, Raja believed only ”in laughing and smiling–[he believed] life just happened.”
In fact, the only pressing plans in Raja’s near future were to fully
devote himself to Lamprecht in the early half of 2002, finally giving
up his “male activity” to marry his love. With laughter Alam recalled
Raja as “a hell of a naughty guy.”
“He once got into trouble by asking two ladies to call him at the same time,” Alam said. “He loved that situation!” Raja’s freewheeling spirit often took comedic turns, which he shared with those around him in his normal good-natured, self-mocking way. His deft maneuvering after angering a girlfriend by calling her by the wrong name was the source of much office laughter. “He was that kind of guy,” chuckled Alam, “all over the place. [And he] loved
being in the company of women.”
Raja’s nature included and infused those around him. Often, after working late, Raja would pool together his coworkers for a late-night romp in the city. He loved to dance and stay out as late as humanly possible. He worked as hard as he played, though, and after such evenings would show up at work on time the next morning without a problem.
“Guys loved him for his competitive attitude and for the fact that he loved having people around him”, Alam said.
Raja, who did his engineering work at Columbia University and his management at Emory, loved playing cricket with his office buddies. Raja was the creator and captain of the cricket team while he attended Columbia.
He took pride in crafting his own identity as distinctly separate from religion. He was a self-proclaimed atheist who detested fundamentalism and was quick to dismiss conversation on it. “He felt it [religion] was useless, he wanted to maintain an identity that wasn’t tied to religion in any way.”
Raja was an original in the workplace as well, one of the architects of Internet banking. Before coming to TCG, Raja worked for IMG in Amsterdam, Bank 1 in Delaware, and a Connecticut company called Neweius.
He is survived by his mother and his brother, who are currently living in Pakistan.
“He was a very kind, caring, compassionate, loving, and intelligent person,” says his mother, Asmat Fatima. “He was respected and admired by those who knew him. His talent and sense of humor made him standout in any crowd. But it was his loving and caring attitude that always made me proud.”
Raja, born in Lahore, Pakistan, worked for TCG Software in Bloomfield, N.J. After graduating with a bachelor of science in industrial engineering from Columbia University in New York City, he worked as a security engineer at Citibank on Wall Street, then, according to his Goizueta Business School application, he returned to Pakistan to work for Citibank Lahore, take the GMAT, and apply to business school.
“He was in the best years of his life,” says Fatima. “Everything seems to be going in his favour. After years of dedication and hard work he finally achieved this status. He had all the plans to pursue his career in finance. He was full of hope for his future.”
Raja also enjoyed sports. He was a swimmer and played cricket, squash, soccer, tennis, and polo while at Columbia.
A memorial service was arranged by TCG Software. “They were proud to have him working for them,” his mother says.
“It is still very hard to believe that he is missing and lost forever,” she continues. “I have to be emotionally strong as Ehtesham has a younger brother, who is at a very impressionable age.
“[Ehtesham] knew life and lived life. His time was limited but in that time he touched so many people. . . . May peace be with him now and forever. He will stay in our hearts and memories forever.”
EHTESHAM U. RAJA ’98MBA, an Oxford University-educated economist, had worked as an adviser to the Ministry of Commerce and Trade in Islamabad, Pakistan; a security engineer at Citibank on Wall Street; and a staff analyst for the city of New York before coming to Emory.
“I can assure you of a perfect score during my study at your prestigious university,” he wrote on his Goizueta Business School application.
Raja, twenty-eight, died September 11 while attending a conference at the World Trade Center. He was a Muslim from Lahore, Pakistan, but friends say he had embraced the American dream.
College football gets going in earnest today. Irish are looking good after the first half.
For football season in general, a book edited by Adam Schefter, one of the best in the business:
Now then, about writing…
There are character prompts surrounding us. On my walk this morning, there was a man with two huge dogs on his cell (so loud I wondered if he needed the phone at all) complaining about his selfish parents. Saw him again at a different juncture in the hills – he seemed to be giving unsolicited advice, every word clear a block away. There’s the basis for a character, even a short story. What was he talking about? Are his parents truly selfish or not? What if he didn’t pick up after his dogs, how does that color the story? It’s not about the actual man, of course. You can take one or two features – the loud talking, the inability to go for a walk without a cell phone, the dogs, and see what kind of character emerges or build a story around the walk.
So what story did you come up with?
5 questions to ask your story from Charles Baxter via Glimmer Train. Nothing new, just a good reminder.
At halfway down the stairs, a wonderful short story, “Three Pieces,” from Kate Maruyama, co-founder of Annotation Nation. By the way, we are open again with an annotation of Yate’s Easter Parade from Neal Bonser. Bonser also has a short story this month in the Oklahoma Review. Check them out!