Some old reviews that helped me remember my books.

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I missed my old writing.. and since I couldn’t return to that blog.. I thought would paste some of my favourite posts here..

Go read Tom Holt’s Expecting Somebody Taller.

Riotously funny.. disturbingly real.. and has a great theory on why we humans.. mmmm… procreate.. I do wonder too why is that such a complicated manoeuvre.. ok.. will leave that for some other discussion.

Back to his book… Its about a ring.. and who wears (and the Tarhnem) controls the World and all within.. including Gods, Giants, Valkyries, Norns and humans too. Nope not mistaking it for LOTR but yeah its a lighter and a much much thinner version of a the RING story.

Women try their wiles and older women try their experienced wiles but our Malcom does not give up the ring. Witty and a quick read, a good first book of this author.

here is his bibliography

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Dance Dance Dance – My first for the author and can be aptly described listening to Floyd after smoking a joint – surreal, quite like poetry and blue.

Again another author that came highly recomended and lived upto the hype. The book was compelling enough for me to abandon Shalimar the Clown and now need to find justifiable excuses not to get back to it.

The story line is linear in one sense and layered like a lovely chocolate cake in another. One dream that triggers off a memory and forces the unnamed protagonist to take a trip down memory lane into the nether regions of TheSheepman and The Dolphin Hotel.

The why and wheres explained, the story really explores love. Unrequited love, filial love, need based love, lust driven love, love bought in return for money, love for the sake of love – all kinds. Each explored very nicely with words and some epiphanies to be had along the way. I cant remember any of the phrases that I particularly liked except for the one of shoveling snow – literally, culturally and even figuratively.

Made me wonder, like I used to when I was a journalist, about what the point of That One Story was….really how it anything every change?

There are times when open ended stories leave me feeling strangely unsatisfied but not this story. Its one of those books where the tale comes and goes with characters enmeshed and one wonders how can writing something so intricate seem so effortless.

While reading up about the book (which I always land up doing AFTER I have finished the book) makes me wonder why I did not do so before. This book is supposed to be a sequel to another Murakami but I have Norweigan Wood lined up so others are gonna have to wait.

Lovely lovely book.

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Reading Lolita in Tehran is one book that has so lived up to the hype generated around it. It talks about struggle – a daily struggle to even just live the way the you want, forget fulfilling dreams and aspirations, fight for your right to read, write and move around.

It has now earned a huge reputation and I did begin reading it, thinking here I am going to read mostly about the need for emanciapation in Iran, primarily for women and the fight for democracy.

But instead what I encountered is a tale very poignantly woven with lives of Azar Nafisi’s students – their past, their presents and tentative future plans with doyens of literature – Jane Austen, Henry James, Nabukov.

The books, their discusions and the events happening around them – all talk of a time when being a woman in Iran must have seemed like a huge challenge. From being punished while eating an ice cream to not showing a single strand of hair to bigger things like demonstrations disrupting class to professors castigated for picking the wrong books.

In the light of Iraq and the US Invasion, I had never really given too much thought to Iran and how bad it was in the eighties and nineties. For the longest time Ayatollah Khomeni was the person who wanted Salman Rushdie dead. Lets say I was well much less informed about Iran and leave it at that. Why make a flag of my ignorance?

Persecution usually brings to light how bad it was for a certain section and it is always in hindsight. Her book today is a memoir. You finish the book wondering what happened to all those people who make a fleeting mention in her book. Her key or core team (as we would call them today) are present right till the end in some form or the other but that one really conservation student. with buttoned down shirts and dislike for James, or that girl who she sees in the middle of rally and wonders why she never came back… or even the Magician.. on a bittersweet note you wonder where they are today.

PS this book is another one of those which I read a couple of pages, in one random jaunt into a bookstore and then suddenly by the time I decided to buy it, it became too fashionably popular. But do read it and no it is not really a feminist slanted book.

Here is what the book is about and here are some reviews put together in one place.

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Edited to add: This was the review of Zadie Smith on Beauty

After what feels like a really long time I came across a book where it flows effortlessly from page to page and chapter to chapter. I had only heard about it in Booker lists and read reviews on hugely famous lit blogs. Needless to say I approached it with skepticism.

But it started off unexpected well. A book that starts with little tracks and incidents that take a while to get under the skin off but the story starts flowing much before that.

The best part about the book was the whole concept of beauty that it throws around. Without getting into too much personal information, the book helped me come face to face with the fact that despite whatever your personal image you may have of yourself, not everyone thinks like you. That may be the best thing for you. Beauty truly lies in the eye of the beholder and I have come around to understanding what this can mean in real life parallely while reading this book.

I have never believed platitudes and still do not believe it when anyone does say that looks do not matter. They may not matter in the long run but that is one of the main criteria for attraction. But what I am beginning to discover that it that it is this criteria that is subjective. Its this degree that I am discovering and learning to adjust to. A revelation of sorts for me. Like I said this was parallely happening while reading the book and therefore will probably one of those books which will be remembered forever in my reading life. Like Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree when I truly realised that I like reading about food (all those superb scones, buns, pies, tarts, biscuits and toffees). This one is a similar land mark book.

Of course, unlike the course in real life, the book meanders half way down the story and though is fluid, it does not stay true to itself. A story about a marriage and the required precarious balance, watching other relationships teether and at the same time, having to pass one correct values to your children, despite the fact that those values may not have helped you to rescue your own.

The story progresses in a predictable fashion so no point talking about it here. Kiki, Howard, Zora, Jerome, Victoria, the Kipps, the Belseys, Claire, Choo.. and other myriad characters make it an interesting read. But one point I have to mention. I started the book and about twenty pages into the book (when it gets mentioned that one of the main characters is black), at that point I realised that how by default without even registering it, I assumed the protagonists will be white. I mean, to my mind, it was not something to even think about. Some conditioning…I guess.

Worth reading, its not a tedious read and in hardback with a large font, makes life easier. Here is an interesting review.

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Like most books on my shelf, this too has been langusihing for a while. I expected it to be another surreal read (thats the problem – expectation kills almost all anticipation) but the book was was tidy read.
Interesting, engaging and unpredictable to some extent. The book kept me going till the last page, at which point, I felt that while it was not the expected end (I still prefer good happy ends where the boy gets the girl), my mind had galloped ahead expecting many more letters from Naoko to Toru and many more conversations with Midori.
A story about Toru Watanabe remembering life when he was just beginning to discover a life of ending adolescences and losing important in your life and how it is a way of life – pleasant or not. The various people he meets and how each teaches him something (a lot like life eh) and its finally a story. Some drama and some mundane-ities and its all over.
Some parts are really sad.. like Midori getting used to funerals or how sex and love can be so skillfully detached and that its so incredibly common. Its like these things happen but you dont want to actually accept that they do.
One part I really liked was the unusual settings Toru gets to know the women in his life – on a terrace with a fire on, in a sanatorium, in trams. This too mirrors life. I mean, it so happens with me that while driving back home, nearing my destination and I am bang in the midst of a superb conversation that I remember for years to come. Oh I always have them in unusual settings – in temples, by the shores of a river while waiting to go rafting, waiting for the soup to arrive at a road side stall or waiting for the movie to begin… such conversations always stay with u…
I did not get understand why this is such a revolutionary book because it is not like his typical writing, where I always most certainly have to go back and read the lines again.. but yes the language is so fluid and delicious that you want to cherish phrases as you read them.

Here are some interesting reviews of the book.

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4 responses »

  1. And I thought you went to office to work! Ghosh is contrived at times, but quite enjoyed that book anyway. Maybe because was close to home. Few people have been able to make the Sunderbans absorbing.

  2. Haylo ji.. i have posting capabilities from home too.. dont think want to risk posting from work. yes he is contrived. I finished the glass palace after this book.. and while its great and all.. didn’t leave much of a mark.

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