Monday, August 21, 2017
Pinball - Haruki Murakami.
Is that possible for a writer to keep churning out books by books and still keep the quality intact in all of them? In my quest to unearth the fact I decided to read 4 books back to back from Haruki Murakami. This one being the second of a four book series, whose fourth part an "Enemy Friend" as I told you in my last post, gifted me. Since I had to read em all I thought why not kill two birds with one shot ;). Although this (read these) are his very initial writings, I am sure of that but still its shocking that even then his ramblings were way too good in comparison to what his counterparts were churning out then. Although the trend continues from where he left in the first one, he refuses to disclose the location, refuses to name the characters and they are all weirdly referred to, the biggest yet is that I am keeping a very keen eye on knowing who the protagonist is, even that he simply refuses to disclose. I hope and guess by the time I read the fourth, I will be able to know who or actually what was the name of the guy whose life story he has told me in this "Rat Trilogy" with a fourth book as an "Epilogue" to it all. Can you believe all that? That my friend is Haruki Murakami the magician of words I will say. Again to my shock, surprise, sadness and what not, what I am reading are of-course the work of translators and it is indeed sad to see at so many places where they do word to word translation without using their brains but I forgive them for still giving me a terrific story as told by the master in original. (I refuse to learn Japanese in future and will stick to translations :)).
Second book of the series and story still goes nowhere, the unnamed protagonist with a handful of friends (other characters) is out of school and has started a business of translations :) you see Murakami has a sense of humor too. His partner another unnamed guy has the capital so he gets half the share, a girl that they hire to help gets one share and our hero gets the four remaining shares thats how their life goes. He still has a dear friend the "Rat" whose actual story is the whole series all about. And they both frequent their favorite bar owned by a guy called J. Who is their confidante too. Although the story goes nowhere almost but takes some hilarious turns like protagonist's live in relations with a set of Twins who he calls 208 and 209 respectively as the T shirts they wear have those numbers. Sometimes they exchange them too further confusing not only him but us too, whose who and whose saying what too :). Rat too gets his share of attention like falling in love, getting dumped in a plush apartment on top of a hill overlooking a beach with a 250cc bike to ride (he trashed his car in the earlier part). His rich parents call it seclusion so he will make something out of his life and what he does is what you've got to read the book for. Trust me, when I say this that almost 70% of the book I finished like that as the flow as always the case with his books is simply amazing but then I thought what about the title "Pinball"? Barring a whole one page dedicated to its invention and some information, it just gets tossed out of the book. But once the Pinball machine makes an entry, Phew! I cant even explain what happens.
What I love about Murakami is his terrific characters, I am sure you all have read one or the other works from him and will certainly agree. His characters can talk to anyone of anything and thats the magic, he so convincingly made me fall in love not only with the unnamed guy but also with the Pinball machine that I started thinking hard when did I play my own last game on a machine like that? Now whenever I will pass through a game zone in my life and come across a Pinball machine, I am sure it will look up-to me, might as well smile and talk to, who knows :). This is seriously insane and unbelievable. Yet, it did put a wide smile on my face and he makes the pact of me not reading a series stronger by ending it the way he ends it. So many questions unanswered and the book ends.
If you have read this, of-course tell me that you loved it as I cant accept that anyone can even dislike a book and amazing story like that. But if you haven't read it yet, you bet you have no idea what you have missed. Go get the whole series and fall in love with a Pinball machine.
PS: Thomas Hardy has broken the Murakami spell and I am in love yet again with a guy called "Jude" now, if you know what I mean ;)
Thursday, August 17, 2017
I have three types of friends, first are best friends who gift me books, second are those friends who motivate me to read more then there is a third type of friends too that I have and I call them "Enemy Friends". If you haven't read that term anywhere it actually means those friends who are your literary enemies. One of them gifted me a Harry Potter (first book) last year when I used to refuse it as a children's book and then there is this one who gifted me the Fourth book of a four book series from Haruki Murakamim intentionally, knowing very well how I have fallen in love with this guy. And the joke is that the book is titled "Dance Dance Dance" and I had been dancing since that day to lay my hands on the first three so I can get to the one he actually gifted me. Now, if you know anything about Murakami and his philosophy, you will agree that it wont be a mistake on my part to get all of them and read them back to back, isn't it? This one that I just finished and totally in awe with is no wonder one of his earlier works back in 70's I guess. Still, what an amazing book it turns out to be, although it kept reminding me of Paulo Coelho to an extent as this will be a very highly inspiring work for those who actually want to become writers. How he wrote this and what all was going through his mind and how terrifically he converted everything into one superb story is the book all about.
As the name suggests "Hear the Wind Sing" and "The Rat Trilogy" as it is called. The entire story revolves around the narrators best friend who he is known as "Rat", actually a super rich guy whose dad owns a Mercedes and he himself has a Triumph (an Iconic Motorcycle now). This is actually the best time of their lives I guess, young carefree, keeping a count of how many girls they have slept with and what not, banging the car at top speed totally drunk, thanking there stars for surviving without a scratch, getting arrested, falling in love and what not. It has it all and to my pain, amazement, shock and surprise the book is hardly 115 odd pages, too short from Murakami standards now as I kept asking for more to no avail but the good thing is that have three more to look forward to after this one. The book actually takes you back in time to your own carefree days and not surprising from his standards is full of literary, music and movie references, too good if you like Music and Movies the way you love the books. It may make your "to be read" list a little more longer knowing that Murakami was actually reading those books in his younger days and was getting inspired or turned off too :). It does gets philosophical in a very loving way and like I say never gets preachy. Another interesting thing that I noticed is that the name of the story teller never comes in the book but he names all his friends and other characters. I am sure I didn't miss his name anywhere in the start.
Its a super fast read and very easy going. If you find his later works harder, guess you should read this one. If you have read it already, do let me know how you liked it? As I am about to dash for the second part of the Trilogy before reading the fourth Epilogue called "Dance Dance Dance".
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway.
I am always in Awe (read jealous) with people claiming to read books from the likes of the greatest of the great writers that unfortunately I have heard but never read, it makes me shake me sad and feel ashamed for being so "Unread" that I at times literally feel like I am some illiterate who has not read nothing at all, but I take it positively mostly and try to lay my hands on as many from those greatest great as I can. They may or may not make any sense to me, but even if I am able to grab a line or more from it which makes sense, I supremely believe its worth a try. And I must tell you which one is the most terrific name that totally amazes me whenever someone mentions that they have or are reading a "Hemingway", I don't know why but that name is so intriguing and see how amazing it sounds "Ernest Hemingway", more like one of the much loved American President Or may be an acclaimed Scientist who worked with Einstein or Newton, a someone like Martin Luther King and all. That name for one has such a weight and personality associated with it that I always picture a fat man in a three piece suit with a gold chain stuck on his jacket's button with a watch inside his right jacket pocket with wire rimmed glasses on his thick nose and sharp small eyes looking at me with a permanent frown on his face about to blast me saying "So, you haven't read my books yet? You Fool, you have no right to live, Go Die!". I really don't know to this moment how he looks like and who is he other than of-course an Amazing (read A M A Z I N G) Author for sure. So not to make it too complicated and die seeing him cursing in my dreams, I got this short and sweet book by him which turns out to be totally magical (as if I didn't imagine it already). One word, I've got to say about it "TERRIFIC".
The story of Santiago, an old fisherman, who goes without catching a single fish for 87 days at a stretch but hasn't lost all hopes that he believes the 88th day is his lucky day and he is going to catch a fish of some size that will be good for the rest of the year. He has a very young friend too, guess a teenager who is usually with him but for some reason couldn't make it that day and Santiago goes alone. The twist and turns his story takes, how he tries his level best to catch a big fish, he actually catches one but the way he struggles to hold it, kill it and bring it on board his small boat is the story all about. To what extent he goes on his adventure and for how long? you've got to read the book to know that. Its such a short, sweet and fast read that I almost finished it in a single sitting (115 pages) only. The drama, background, suspense, struggle and Old man's ramblings are too good to read. The best part about (now I can qualify to write this) a Hemingway book is its simplicity. As they say, there are so many who strive to write like him but there can only be one Hemingway. Its adorable, I didnt need a dictionary to read this and at no point I had to ask my dad anything while reading this. I rather finished and gave it to him saying "Old man, you've got to read this book, you will love it and will be able to draw so many parallels from this story". I was shocked to read the detailing of fishing, it was simply Wow, if someone is looking for some lessons in proper fishing, this book can be used is a ready reckoner too. Mind-blowing is his knowledge and the way it is told is that I could actually visualize everything as I was watching a movie and not reading a book.
No doubt, that the book The Old Man and the Sea was not only awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction but it was cited as a contributing factor in Hemingway winning a Nobel Prize for Literature, just imagine. The book is a total philosophical read (my personal opinion) but never gets preachy. But do you also think that we can draw so many parallels from the story? As if our own life story he was trying to tell through his characters, what is that "Fish" behind which we all are running, how hard it is to actually catch and do we survive to catch it finally? or is it really worth it in the end once you catch that Big Fish? I am sure its not only me who would have noticed all that even otherwise its a terrific story told in a most simplistic yet riveting manner and I am so looking forward to his other works now.
If you haven't read this yet, guess Ernest is going to come in your dream tonight and will haunt you like he did to me :) but if you have read and loved it, do let me know how you liked it.
Monday, August 14, 2017
The Wedding - Nicholas Sparks.
I am sure it must have happen with you too at one point of time or the other that you end up loving a book so much, interpret your own choice of ending because it had an open ending that once its sequel comes out, you plan never to read it just to savor the taste of the prequel in your heart (not in mind). But unfortunately I had to read this after I let my heart debate with my mind to their own hearts content (trust me they have one each :). I thought how bad it could be? It may spoil my memory of ever so handsome, ever so loving Noah waiting for a life time for the love of his life Allie to drop by just before her own marriage, confused, love lorn, love struck and what not to make his dull life beautiful once again as she does on and off but always goes off leaving him sad. I also thought it may screw up the perfect ending I had in my own mind of that terrific love story called "The Notebook" because its Nicholas Spark's baby and he has all the right in the world to play around with it, how differently may be his fans expect or thought about the story. As this supposedly should take the story forward where Noah and Allie left it (I so much assumed and wished they die together after Allie's memory comes back for one night and she recognizes him and believes in the story he reads to her from his notebook that night and they never wake up next morning. As some idiot must have said that "love does takes you to places but then life takes over at one point of time". But this guy I tell you is a hardcore romantic and he takes it one step ahead proving that "love will take over life for good, provided you want it to" and finally gives me a superb closure in the form of this terrific sequel that only and only hardcore romantics should read, rest all can trash it without reading to their hearts content (if they actually have it).
Story is taken ahead by Noah's Son in law Wilson married to his daughter for thirty year, as they are about to celebrate their wedding anniversary their daughter surprises them by disclosing that she will be getting married on the same day. With only a week to prepare for the wedding whatever they could, with their own marriage and life in shambles on the verge of breaking over. This sudden marriage announcement gives them some cushion and time to look back at their own life and repair the ruins. Noah again is the hero of this story too (undoubtedly) and really made me wonder what's with the Authors and their knack for making us fall head over heals over oldies nowadays :). You just cant not fall in love with the way he keeps "getting" his family and his theory of re-incarnation of his own wife Allie :) you've got to read the book to know it, if its any true or if his own kids believe on it or not. But Wilson does to an extent. I guess I read this book a decade too early to claim that I actually was able to see my own life in the form of this amazing love story, calling it amazing as it has a perfect ending as all unusual love stories have (or should have). Wilson and Jane are as different as Chalk and Cheese yet they were somehow able to survive the thing called life and three grown up kids, went ahead on their own. Jane has Noah a super old daddy with a demented mind to take care off too whereas Wilson has his own law firm to take care off, life does takes a toll on both. How Wilson rekindles the love and does the unexpected in the most riveting way is the story all about.
Although, I am not that old like Wilson but no doubt as I said I was able to see glimpses of my own life in this story. Couple falling apart because of unfulfilled expectations, kids going away on their own, almost not in talking term with parents, no romance left just some vague memories of a better past but loved Wilson's will to get it all back. Another terrific thing which works in the favor of the book is Noah and his never ending love story. As I said Nicholas Sparks is a hardcore romantic and has left no stone upturned to make this book another superb experience for the likes of him and his fans. He had me in smiles, in tears, again choked up and a terrific closure this time. You will no doubt see your own life through this story on way or other. If you have read "The Notebook" and loved it, you've got to read this and if you haven't still this works wonders as almost the entire story of Notebook is spread over this one. But do let me know if you have read it and how you liked it.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
What do you do when you know that one of your favorite writer has written only a dozen odd books and is no more? You go slow with his works, cherish and enjoy them as long as you can as the new ones aren't coming out and writer(s) like him are very hard to find (Although I just found Murakami to tell you the truth). This I believe will be one of his shortest books as hardly 115 pages but if I just pick up one para from the very first 20 odd pages, a person with better vocabulary (not me) can write a 120 odd page review on the same and will still not run out of the praise. Imagine the beauty and word play this insanely talented guy had. Last time when I was ranting about another of his works a friend pointed out that these books that we read are actually the translations, still we find them this good. Just imagine how terrific they must be in his own words in his own language. But learning Spanish to read Gabo's works is something I guess I wont be able to do in this birth for sure but in my next I would love to be reborn either in Columbia or Japan ;).
This one is a very straight forward, short and sweet story of a an old journalist (almost retired) whose employer refuses to let him go but presses him to write on whatever he wishes as per his whims and fancies. What he writes on? is not hilarious but too good and the way his fans respond and how he gets the material (read inspiration) makes up for this superb story of him at 90 years looking for that one last fling with a Virgin girl before he calls it a life. What happens next is a beautiful story of love and affection of a different kind altogether. Going by the title I must say I judged it pretty wrongly and it didn't turn out what I expected it to be (for good). The Journalist has just celebrated his 90th birthday and has been a Bachelor throughout his life, in and out of love at least once or more but never gets married. He has no future, no past, no family and almost nothing to look forward to. He claims he even isn't rich but thats another story but his taste is simply impeccable of not only whores but music, literature, what he eats, how he talks and almost every other thing. I just couldn't help but fall in love yet again with an Oldie (remember the Grumpy Old man), he is like him if he was a Journalist but with a very colorful life.
If you have read and loved Gabriel Garcia Marquez, do tell me which one is your favorite and if you have read this one, tell me how was it as per you. And if you haven't read it, you exactly know what to do, go run, get a copy and enjoy it. It such a short book that you will be able to finish it in one sitting but a book that you will never be able to forget.