Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy (Book)

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy.

When I started thinking about this book "The God of Small Things" as when did I read it last? I had no memory, all I had was some flashes here and there of Ammu the protagonist and her two kids Estha and Rahel (Twins). Also, when I read it last I had no idea what Booker Prize meant either and what it would take a writer to get one or what kind of a book / story. But now as I finished it today and sitting totally blown away by the story, I have no words as how to put two and two together for this one. Initially as I started reading the book it almost felt like another done to death topic of some part of India (read South India - Kerala to be specific) shown in bad light, people below poverty line, untouchability, illiteracy, hunger, unemployment, religion, politics and what not. But as the story progressed and I got hooked to the minutest nuances that Ms Ray has captured is truly unbelievable. Right like the way it is titled, she has left no stone upturned in her efforts to show the bleak reality on your face as it is, so much so that I could actually not only feel the heat, the smell, the colorful description of the things, I actually started reading the prose as she wanted me to read and fluently too as Ammu's kids read it backwards if you know what I mean. Like they will read a word "Rose" as "esor" so on so forth. The way they sing a song word to word typical South Indian way with exact pronunciation. That's some commendable thing.

Terrific story of Ammu, her struggle, her two egg unidentical twins (a boy and a girl), her love and loss, dreams, hopes, a little happiness here and a lot of sadness there. What I loved about the book is the flow, the way it keeps coming back to the present and going back (mostly) to the flashback as how it all happened and twins get separated (and why?) makes up for a mind-blowing read. The best part of the story is the detailing and I was totally mesmerized by the way she had not only written the characters and their nuances but even the background of where it all was happening was so damn amazing, colorful and real that almost throughout I could see it all happening right in front of my eyes. If you have read any of "Gabriel Garcia Marquez" book and have gone on a surreal journey that he takes us, Ms Ray has done almost the same magic with her book. Alas! to our shock, surprise and amazement she was a one book wonder (as of recently).

It's already 48 hrs since I am done with the book but its memory is still haunting me so much (in a good way) that even after picking up an Agatha Christie as my next, I have just put the bookmark on first page and not able to start it. Memory of Ammu (for some reason I keep seeing Smita Patil's face) and her two inseparable fatherless kids (not so beautiful with no special features) who are in awe (read love) with an untouchable guy called Velutha (imagine Makarand Deshpande with specs, topless, wearing a mundu folded well above his knees knotted at waist) with a body shining with sweat and sticking saw dust overall, always smiling to look after the kids teaching them a trick or two here and there. As I said Ms. Ray's detailing is so in-depth that she has created real life characters who refuse to go off my mind, I could actually see their expressions, feel their pain(s), see the amount of sweat making their cloths go darker like the way a red shirt goes maroon with sweat all over it. The way they talk, walk, their eyes shine with little happiness although they very well know that there is no future and all they have is a hope of a tomorrow, beyond that they just do not think. If you have ever loved a love story, I guess this will supersede it manifolds, I haven't read a more beautiful love story than this one. If you don't believe me, I will recommend you pick up the book and just read the last ten pages, it doesn't work like a spoiler even if you jump straight, what beauty. And this has the best ever love making scene in the history of my book reading, NEVER I have read anything which comes any closer to this one's sensuality, simplicity and never feels out of place, its simply mind-blowingly beautiful, which not even made me smile, or made a big lump in my throat, it made me highly emotional as I knew what was coming next but still it was terrific. Take a bow Ms. Roy, you made me a fan of yours. I am definitely reading this book again and I guess will make it a yearly practice now :) the ending is so inspiring.

If you have read it, I am sure a lot of you must have, do tell me if how you like it and if you haven't, I will say its a must must read for all. It is another piece of literature from our part of the world which is timeless as of now as nothing much has changed in the last two decades of it being written, I am sure you will agree with me on that. I totally loved it. With that I believe now I will go to her next book which came out recently with certainly very high hopes and wish that it works for me exactly like the way this one did. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sita: Warrior of Mithila - Amish Tripathi (Book)

Sita: Warrior of Mithila - Amish Tripathi.
Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Sanghi are the two guys because of whom I started reading mythological fictions big time and have actually discovered some really fantastic books (Palace of Illusions and Karna's wife). Shiva Trilogy (from Amish) was a fantastic read, no doubt, first being the best and second still was able to hold my interest unfortunately the third one didn't work (wonders) but when I heard him writing another couple of books on Ramayan, I was excited. The prequel to this one (Sita) was "Scion of ikshvaku" was a good read I will say but the way he finished it and kept the readers hanging asking for more (a closure) which again unfortunately doesn't come in the shape of Sita as this book exactly ends at the same point where the first one ended, how sad it is. Why? because he wants to make it a trilogy or may be a fourology or something. Sita for first is a drag just because he has to write the whole book on her character - he tries his level best to make it interesting which it isn't. He has actually tempered so much with the Epic that it doesn't even works like a fiction even for someone as easy to please as me who loves fictions. This was a complete disaster, although he has tried all the tricks in the trade to shatter the image of Sita I had in my mind but no ways I am going to remember this book six months down the line nor I will recommend it to anyone. Yes, he is definitely going the Chetan Bhagat way by writing a book which can be made into a superb action movie starring Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider minus leather plus cotton and replace guns with knives) as Sita as no one can do what his Sita does in the book, totally ROFL stuff this is.
How much liberty is too much in the name of fiction? that is one question that kept coming to my mind as I kept going forward as I am one of those people who would not leave a book half read, however tuff the book could be or whatever sort of disaster it may turn out to be. But this has some serious crap that I really need to name here like using the words like "Lady Sita" as if I am reading some western epic and then the characters will be mouthing the lines like "You got to do what you got to do". Sita being five years elder then Ram was a revelation if thats true. He has actually made her a superb Warrior in his book and story, not only she is a perfect warrior but she doubles up as an Architect too. If thats not enough he actually lets her do a sort of Chariot race (Gladiator style). Vyomkesh the detective and his stories existed in the then era again was an eye opener of sorts for me (me poor unread soul). Hanuman happens to be Sita's moohn bola brother of sorts and they knew each other prior to Ram developing a connection with the great Hanuman and it doesnt end here can you believe that? Do you remember why Ram, Lakshman and Sita go for 14 years exile? Amish has a different theory for it altogether. If Draupadi can be in love with Karn in a work of fiction why cant Raavan be in love and awe with Sita? He definitely can and so does Amish's Raavan, he has feelings for Sita The Warrior. Shit just keeps getting deeper I tell you. And then they all keep calling the country "India" that was like a WHOA!! Did I read it correctly? Time was already invented as they calculate everything in hours like I will see you in half hour or may be an hour and a half later - my foot. Area names like Kerala, Mizoram, Colaba etc keep popping here there and everywhere. At one point of time imagine they actually go to a place called Mumbadevi the seven island city :) I was so looking forward that he will call it Mumbai but he doesn't.
But the best was when Sita meets Ram before marriage mind it and says somethings like "you have got to be joking" I felt like this was some NRI Sita he was talking about and she even says "I love you" to Ram before even she gets married to him. Bravo Amish Tripathi, this is the height of Fiction I should call it. There is this epic line I need to mention before I forget (the entire book) there comes a moment when someone says "Manthra is not interested in game of thrones". Can you beat that? And you know what? Pushpak Viman was actually a 737 Aircraft which can bloody take 100 Lankans for a ride at a time with Raavan and his brother Kumbhakaran on board too. Amish had actually run out of the ideas I guess while writing this one as his detailing had such an uncanny resemblance to the scenic beauty of "Lord of the rings" that I just couldn't believe it. I am sure I will not be the only person pointing this out, the caves, waterfalls, mountains and palaces etc. The similarity was so much that for once I though Mr. Frodo may pop out and ask where he should go to destroy the ring :). This is I guess one of the worst botched up version of an Epic that we all have loved at one point of time. He has made it a joke but yes a thrilling ride but pointless and I am not even looking forward to the final book of the series now which will be based on Raavan. That's going to be another joke I guess as he is going to leave no stone upturned in making him a sort of a Hero. So if you have read this one already, do let me know how you liked it and if you haven't, I guess you should stay away.
PS: I was furiously angry while composing the review and I unfortunately do not read again before posting, so please excuse if I have gone overboard.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Nights in Rodanthe - Nicholas Sparks (Book)

Nights in Rodanthe - Nicholas Sparks.

I don't know why but it is always tough for me to read one book from an Author, love it and not read the next :), I am sure it happens with all of you. As I had to take a little break and travel too, couldn't travel with much load, decided to pick up my Kindle and read one of those light reads in which I can take couple of breaks in between (breaks). So, it had to be a Nicholas Sparks book as I recently finished of his earlier works and liked it too. Now, this one is a totally different (not actually) from what he writes, again a superb love story although both the leads are in their middle age, heck who cares when it comes to love. Yet, it appealed to me so much that just couldn't take my mind of the story, happenings, characters and what not. Also, it helped me loads to know that it had been adapted long back into a movie starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane :) need I say more that it became another unputdownable and again as the fate will have it, I will be watching the movie yet again and go emotional some more. What's a love story if it doesn't have a couple of twists (subtle ones may be) but they need to be here and after my experience of "Message in a Bottle" I am sort of ready to take up anything from him now and nothing shocks me, Yes! it does makes me sad to not to have my kind of ending. But then everything predictable and straight forward will make it boring too like my friend told me sometime back :) and I had to agree.

Read this, if you believe in love at first sight :), read this, if you believe that love can happen anytime, with anyone. Read this, if the meaning of love for you can be, not being together or you may not always get what you so much wish and desire, deserve is another word altogether so lets not even go there. Read this, if you have ever loved someone and lived to tell the tale. And I can give you 100 more reasons to read this as the memory of the book, characters and their story still lingers on even when it has been 48 hrs that I have finished it. Regretting so much to have read a digital version, it looks weird to keep the Kindle on my chest (right above my heart) and I refuse to get up to start a day :). Paul Flanner is a surgeon (in his mid 50's), recently divorced, having differences with his son, with a patient dead leaving a black mark on his profession, while his life goes nowhere, he is kindda slowing down - meets Adrienne (almost same age), a single mother of three, whose husband has left her for a much younger female, coping with her own daughter's depressing life. This is a story that she narrates to her daughter in flashback and how the reader is taken on the beautiful journey their short love story is, makes up for a terrific engrossing read. What happens in the course of a weekend in Rodanthe, as Paul is visiting his dead patients husband (not sure if he should) and Adrienne is filling up for her friend taking care of the Inn her friend owns while Paul stops by for a weekend while a storm passes by. Its just a "Wow" book. I so much want to see the movie now but not sure if it will leave the same taste as the book does, may be I will give it a go couple of weeks down the line. But I am not ready yet to watch the story onscreen with two of my all time favorite Actors playing the characters I loved.

Do let me know if you have read this and liked it (or hated may be). I totally loved it. And again I will recommend a Nicholas Sparks book to everyone as I move on to another set of heavy reads keeping his others works safely tucked in somewhere far from me till I take another break and grab one (or couple) of them :).

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Highway Man - J Alchem (Book)

The Highway Man - J Alchem.

There are three types of books that I read these days :). The first one(s) are the ones that I already have or the ones that I keep hoarding left, right and center as and when and from wherever I can lay my hands on. Second types are of-course the ones referred and recommended by you lovely people that keep making me poorer by the day (monetarily). But the new third types are a little special these days - now these are the one(s) sent to me either by the Writers themselves or by their marketing / promotion guys who are always on the lookout for sort of a genuine feedback. This year, if I am not exaggerating, I must have read close to a dozen published books from the third category (and I am not complaining yet), have read two unpublished ones as well as two manuscripts (looking for publishers - any recommendations:)). You see I am basically a sucker for reading and I don't mind from where the books are coming as long as they are not costing me too much, I would love to buy anything and everything I can get at whatever prices. So, this particular book in question popped up like that from someone who is credited by the Author too. As this was a very short book (70 pages precise) and I must tell you this, she was too kind to send me an Amazon gift card so I  could buy a Kindle version :) the least I could do is read, rate and may be give my opinion of the same. And as a very highly respectable friend once told me "If someone ask you for a genuine advice, do them a favor by being genuine - they may or may not like your advice(s) but it will help them in longer run". I keep doing what I do best, blabber about it :).

As it came recommended by someone who is already credited by the Author in the book and I was told that its a quick, easy and fast read. It actually turned out to be one that I finished in flat an hour and a half I guess. On my way to Indore from Pune, lying down on a Luxury Sleeper Bus, I wrapped it up in one shot. The book actually is a collection of three short stories. First one is about a Writer, who has written a series of books revolving around one female character. What happens when he himself falls for the character he had created and how his life turns to be is the story is all about. Unfortunately its a short story so there is not much scope of character development or background hence it didn't work one bit for me as everything looked like too flimsy and the ease with which it all happens evokes no feelings in the reader and that tame predictable ending just kills it in the end. Second story is about a loving couple, this one I really liked as I had a little connect with the Husband's character, one fine day he wakes up to make his wife happy and do what she does all the time for him and what he gets in return had a wide smile on my face. Who makes the other's day and life better is what I kept thinking in the end, was a superb charming read. But the title story "The Highway Man" in the end as they say, keep the best for the last, that should have been the case if and only if this was a full fledged story. Unfortunately the idea of writing a short story goes again against it and the reader is kept asking for more. Life of a guy after losing his wife in a freak road accident, who is on the verge of losing his son too, trying hard to make up for the little kid, goes on a road trip meets a hitchhiker who changes their life. The ending of this one too which should have taken the cake but misses the bus altogether (at least for me) for its sheer predictability.

Short stories and books I believe usually work as they are fast read and do not give much time to the reader to think but the main reason why these did not work for me is because there is no heart in it. It would have worked I guess if there were a dozen of stories to choose from or may be if they were full fledged stories with detailed character development or backgrounds which isn't the case here. Another point that doesn't work in the favor of the book (and stories) is the Acknowledgement and Preface where they have written so much about the book, author and story that it kind of soars up the expectations of the reader and then it falls flat on its face. Imagine the initial 15-18% of the book is the Introduction and all that.

Although, in the end of the book the Author says that she will come out with a full fledged book on the character of "The Highway Man" I guess. I would love to give it a try as and when it comes (2018). 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Bend In The Road - Nicholas Sparks (Book)

A Bend In The Road - Nicholas Sparks.
Nicholas Sparks and Jojo Moyes were two of my favorite writers when it comes to reading "fillers", before I discovered magical "P G WOdehouse" but now it will be a different story altogether. As every-time I pick up a book from the likes of Murakami, Gabriel Garcia Marquez or say Mr. King as I recently did, I need a filler to create a kind of gap. And their books have always worked like a charm with me. One of my very close (and very kind) friend happens to be a huge huge fan of both of them and she has sort of given me their entire collection in eBook form. Hence I keep picking up a book from them in order of their publication and keep reading them to create gaps, to refresh my mind so I can put it to work again as I plan to pick some heavy read next (God of small things and Ministry of Utmost Happiness coming up next). I even used Chetan Bhagat books like that not so long ago, alas! they are over and he has taken a premature retirement from writing (thank god for that?). So, this was a pretty easy read as well, a typical Nicholas Sparks story. So far I have read half a dozen of his books and realized there is a pattern in his book, like they will always start with some kind of loss in life, gradually move forward with something nice to look up to for characters, following with a twist in the tale, will keep the reader in tenterhooks for a while and they will finally end with a happy note (mostly) but will leave a lump in your throat, tears in your eyes but will still make you grin from ear to ear. Although, I haven't forgiven him for that mind-numbing ending he gave to "Message in A Bottle", No ways that books calls for that ending. But what to do, so is life with Nicholas Sparks stories I guess.
A beautiful story of Deputy Sherrif Miles, who is happily married to his high school sweetheart with a terrific cute son Jonah. A bend in the road changes their life for good when his wife is killed in a hit and run case. With no clue who killed her or was it an accident? Miles spends all his time looking for clues, overlooking his son's school and stuff. Till the charming Sarah comes along as Jonah's school teacher, who not only helps him in school, they gradually develop a good repo. She too has her own past and a story to tell. How they fall in love and as life starts looking good for them, comes the twist in the tale to finish it all in one terrible swoop. Story is very smartly told from two different angle's, the first one is narrated by a third person who is following Miles and Jonah all the way from accident and thereafter and the second is how the story opens up for the reader. Nichoals Sparks is able to very well keep the reader in suspense throughout (Although it was easily predictable for me) still works. But the way and the timing how it opens up all is one terrific twist. Again, even in this one too, the entire story, cast and everything revolves around the sleeping town of New Bern, North Carolina (USA) as it always happens with all his books. It is very charming to go through their easy going slow country life, actually thats what always works in the favor of all his books I guess as he gives us what we do not have in our real life (peace and tranquility). Fortunately this one doesn't have an ending that I always dread for, of-course anything can happen with him but it isn't as hunky dory as well.
If you have read this one, do let me know how you like it or if it didn't work for you. Also, which one is your favorite Nicholas Sparks book of-course other than the fantastic "Message in a Bottle" and "The Notebook". I would love to read them breaking the sequence :).