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.
Monday, August 07, 2017
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness - Arundhati Roy.
I just finished reading "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness", wasn't an easy read as I expected it to be after reading her first "The God of Small Things" not so long ago. But the first thing I did after finishing the book is to Google it to know which category the book is falling on - Fiction or Non Fiction? Biography? or based on real incidences etc, as fortunately or unfortunately as per me it qualifies for any or all of them and worthy of a superb applaud at least from us Indians. Unfortunately the opinions will differ big time on this as she has made herself a "Queen of Controversies" in last two decades surely for her opinions as well as her political stand. Still this is a perfect book coming out at the right time showing the society a mirror of sorts. There will be three types of opinion on this I believe. First will be those will love it (like me) as it shows us a true picture of our own society and ourselves what we do or how we live in today's time. Second will be those whose conscious will accept it but they will deny it, negate it, shoot it down and will call it crap. But the most interesting opinion will be of those third type of people who wont read it for what Ms. Roy is all about but will base their opinion based on the opinion of the Second category of people and will shun it. I will not be shocked if she not only gets the Booker for this as she just got nominated but if the book gets banned also in our part of the world. Whatever said and done, I will definitely applaud the effort big time and will recommend it very highly to everyone.
The entire story revolves around three main characters. A Transgender Anjum (born as Aftab), An Architect Tilottama (Roy herself, may be?) and Musa (Tilo's love interest) a Freedom Fighter for Kashmir. Starts from the galiyan of Old Delhi and goes up-to J&K back and forth through these characters and their intertwined lives with so much happening in India in the background. Starting from early 80's Bhopal Gas Tragedy to Indira Gandhi's assassination by her own security guards, making of the then CM of Gujrat Narendra Modi (Gujrat's Lalla as she calls him throughout), Godhra Tragedy, Anna Hazare movement, Hilarious and equally heart touching scenes at famous "Jantar Matar" in Delhi to the turmoil in Jammu Kashmir, Naxalite movement and of-course a plethora of Rape, Killings, Terrorism, Army brutality and loss of life in general, she hasn't left anything at all. It almost covers everything that we have seen or say ignored in the last three decades of our life. In between all those episodes we have the heart touching story of Anjum who herself leaves her own family to live a life of a recluse in a graveyard where only those are buried who have nowhere else to go. How she lives with a handful of people out there and still they have something to cherish and live about is totally awesome, but the language is on your face (not cringe worthy for sure) but shocking giving it a totally real feel as how it is indeed, you just cant deny that. Tilottama's story, her IB connection, husband that she leaves, a lover that she goes around with, her Kashmir visit and experience, the life that she sees up close and personal is totally terrific. If you have ever visited the valley in last decade or so and lived there even briefly, I found it too close to reality.
As I said it is not an easy read, the story keeps going back n forth making it further tough for the reader to keep a track of it. The way it moves from one episode of Anjum's life and times in Delhi to Tilo's life and activities to Musa's life in Kashmir, I kept wondering how it all is going to end and is there going to be a solution offered by the book or will it end on a gloomy note. You've got to read it to know how it ends (not a thriller) but has a perfect open ending with no solution offered. One that made me not only agree but will certainly make everyone think harder where it all is going. The entire book is like Ms. Roy's ranting of so many things going around in the country that she kept taking the notes on various pages of her diary(s) and clubbed them all together to make a book and story, still it works and works big time. Although I haven't read the other books nominated for Booker this year, call me a biased Indian too but I seriously wish she gets it and the book gets a wider International audience too. Not that its going to help us as a country anyways, like she accepts and confirms where we are heading and what will be the final outcome as per her prediction.
But its a must must read for all. A perfect eye opener. Do read, criticize later.
Friday, August 04, 2017
Stephen King was (still is) a name that I always dreaded till I read one of his very best works "The Shining" recently and lived to tell the tale. Hence decided to explore quite a few of his works (read all his books) as soon and as much as I can. I had no idea what all he had written as I said and I was shocked to know that three of my all time favorite movies are actually adapted from his works. Unbelievable and quite a pleasant surprise for me. "Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile" in question, just too good. I saw both the movies when they were released on big screen back then and totally loved them. Have seen them a couple of times already so decided to get and read the books too and what a terrific terrific journey it was to read "The Green Mile" that I just cant tell you, you've got to read the book if you haven't already. As I said both the movies are so well made that I can never forget the visuals especially of the Green Mile and Big John Coffey with Tom Hanks as the death row supervisor. Before reading this book I though Stephen King is all about Horror / Thriller but this book changed it all and I realized that the guy has a superb sense of humor too, the way he puts the story across through his characters and all. Those hilarious one liners mostly from Boss Paul Edgecombe's point of views were too good. Also, the way he has put across the time of "The Great Depression" of 1930s is simply too good.
Story is told in flash back from the point of view of Paul Edgecombe, who was the then Death Row Supervisor back in 30s at Cold Mountain Penitentiary when the electric chair was still in use to execute death row prisoners. Paul had executed 70+ criminals and the story is about the last one that he does and how his life changes after the execution or what all he goes through before that happens. It is one heck of a story coming from inside the prison that too about the inmates who are about to be killed for what they did. I couldn't imagine the way he has carved out so many terrific characters who I would never be able to forget for the rest of my life and the way they did things, spoke, behaved and what not. Of-course the best of them is The Boss itself (so very well played by my favorite Tom Hanks in the movie) that I just couldn't help imagining his face and expressions throughout the narrative. Also the hero of the story (as per me) is John Coffey the big black guy who is convicted for rape and killing of two 9 year old girls. As per him he was trying to save them but as per the law, he was the one who killed them, what was the reality? You've got to read the book to know that and just like Ove and Nakata, he will be another character that I just couldn't help but fall in love with. The way he calls Paul as "Yessir Boss Paul Edgecombe" is too kool and puts a smile on my face all the time but my heart cried out for his overflowing eyes as his tears just wont stop for what he did or for what he couldn't do. Ever so soft spoken, who could do no wrong to no one, how he gets convicted and the ending did put a big big lump in my throat and totally made me breathless.
Some-other superb characters who need a mention are Brutus Howell as Paul's right hand man, a kind of giant in his own rights but a terrific terrific side kick. Percy Wetmore as the bad cop who gets his due as per me for screwing such a nice guy (another criminal to be executed for killing half a dozen people) the Frenchmen Delacroix and his superb pet (Mr. Jingles) the magical rat and his secret that no one knows but Paul. One guy that will always be in my memory is cute Toot Toot, the death row's delivery man with his van and the way he behaved while they practice the Electric Chair execution using him as a dummy and he will always cry out "I'm fryin I'm frying, I am done tom turkey" and the villain "Billy the kid". How John Coffey touches and changes so many lives around him inside the Penitentiary is simply too good, he has some kind of power that he himself isn't aware of what it is but the way he works it out and how he touches so many lives as I said is what you need to read the book for and enjoy the movie too.
As I said Stephen King has some sense of humor hence I just cant resist mentioning this that at one point of time he indeed mentioned in the story that Paul's wife was going to meet her cousin a someone named Jane Austen who wrote books :). Also, he mentioned that Gone with the wind was a crap and Perry Mason was a crappy writer - all done so subtly as a part of the story that I he just made me ROFL.
Monday, July 31, 2017
Just when I thought after reading half a dozen books from Nicholas Sparks back to back that all that mush isn't working anymore for me, he blows my mind off with a solid Bang in this one. A very sweet love story with a twist and a cute Dog thrown in pretty good measure as "The Guardian" :) and he is back with a bang in my favorite romance writers list. What a change this one books is from his usual writing and indeed super thrilling it was, I just couldn't believe once it picked up the pace that it actually is a Nicholas Sparks novel and not from a writer who specializes in thrillers. Even the detective work thrown in with a Trainee Cop (super intelligent Romanel o) was too good and totally kept me hooked to it. The book reminded me so much of the movie "PS: I love you" but the similarity ends when Julie gets two gifts from her young husband after his death, a puppy who she names singer as he whines a lot and a promise that he will always watch her over. The ugly dog as she puts it across in the story turns out to be a great Dane :) its more of a Donkey if you ask me than a Dog but a terrific one at that. One of my friend had one and I usually stayed a mile away from his home always just because of his mammoth size. Here, he is the savior for beautiful Julie.
What amazed me about this story is the real life like characters, where Julie is a simple hair dresser in the sleepy town of Swansboro (North Carolina), she moves there because of her husband Jim and never moves out even after his death. Her support system is Jim's best friend Mike, a happy go lucky local mechanic. He is not only Jim's best friend but a great friend of Julie too and that made me think (just like Julie) that why is it so complicated when you simply fall in love with your own best friend but you are afraid of crossing the line and taking it to the next level? I too had a (girl) friend long ago and this book made me think hard that what if I had proposed her then and who knows we might have got married and lived happily ever after, but what if she had turned me down like the way Julie thinks. What if Mike says No? that ways she is going to lose a great friend too. Now coming back to my story, we still are great friends and are still in touch and now we do laugh and wonder at times why we never approached each other then :). Although both of us are happily married and love our spouses very much (vice-versa too). I so much wished that Julie, should tell the guy that she loved him and he was perfect for her but she had to fall for another guy who happens to be an Intelligent (white collared), good looking Engineer who is totally opposite of Mike. But the way this guy wins her over is terrific, the weekend she spends with him is a dream come true (as long as it lasts) and there comes a twist. Everything isn't as rosy in real life as it looks from outside and the way story takes a turn and the Guardian comes in the picture is too good. I so much now want a dog for myself after this one that I just cant tell you but not a great Dane for sure.
The small town life, the regular people, Mike's hilarious conversations with his brother Henry who is always bullying him for not approaching Julie even after loving her big time for so long, repairing her Jeep (CJ7) always free of cost and how he tries it after his coaxing, makes up for a hilarious read. All the characters are so well written that they leave a big mark on reader like Henry's wife Emma, who is in close contact with Julie and what all they gossip about. Amanda the Salon owner for whom Julie works and her colleague who always keeps falling for the wrong guys. I wish they made a movie on this :). The book as almost all the Nich Sparks books usually are, is a breeze to read and I was able to read it in a couple of days, the suspense kept me glued and Julie's confusion of who to go along with kept me in dilemma too. How it all ends, is totally unbelievable as from Sparks standards it was shocking for me yet very well done. I will recommend it big time to romance lovers specially if you like it with a twist :) do read it and if you already have, do tell me if you like it?
Friday, July 28, 2017
Sriram Subramaniam, an IIT and IIM Alumnus as mentioned on the back cover of the book has put in his best foot forward with this book (his second) and it is pretty much evident that he hasn’t left a single stone unturned in this work of fiction. Terrific is the final outcome and I must say the kind of research, analysis and background that he has done for this book is simply amazing. His passion towards the game of Tennis, music, books and movies as well as road trips, everything is pretty much visible for the reader. I myself believe in one thing, that a book or a movie is a grand success (for me personally) if it is able to make me go breathless, choke me up, make me smile, jump in air with my fist going up making a yessss! And make me go teary eyed as if a dream has come true. This one fortunately did it all in one clean sweep and bowled me over by the way it does it. Now tell, how many of you have the memory of India's victory of 1983 Cricket World cup? I was 7 years old and I can still remember the way my mom was dancing throughout the day and her 32 tooth smile, she could have killed anyone that day if Kapil Dev (the then Indian captain) would have asked her to. People born in the 70's will understand this in a better way with their own memory of not so long ago Indian victory of the same cup in the year 2011, when we lifted the trophy yet again after 27 years. I have no memory how many strangers I hugged that night and we kept chanting "Indiaaaaaa, Indiaaaaaaa...." throughout the night and that were the scene all over India. Also, how many of you actually stood up when they played the Indian national anthem in Olympics when we won a Gold medal after ages as the Indian national flag went up in the stadium. I have been an avid Formula 1 fan for last couple of decades now and I can still not forget the way I would look up to that man in number 24 (last) in the circuit couple of years back called Narain Karthikeyan, although I very well knew that he will never have a pole position or a podium finish yet he made us proud by just being there and he indeed still is the fastest Indian. This book refreshed all those memories, at lease in fiction it made me live that dream of seeing one of us at the Centre Court in Wimbledon living a billion peoples dream, win or lose it just doesn’t matter. (How? read on).
Terrific story of Shankar Mahadevan from rags to riches in the game of tennis from our part of the world where even an individual game is marred by the internal politics of state and country. The way his dad Anant Mahadevan struggles to fulfill his own dream through his son, by making him a world champion, how they do it or do they? is the story all about. Author is supremely qualified to give us a true story through his work of fiction as his own son is a National level player and I guess that’s the reason the book feels so real, not for one moment makes you feel that it is indeed fiction. The father son relationship and the way story keeps going forward and in flashback from Son as well as Dad's angle is too good. Although it took me time to get used to it but it all became very interesting to see the same episode through two different versions. How Anant grooms his son from a young kid to a mature tennis player with the help of so many coaches, mentors and experiences is terrific. How the story keeps going back in time is done so flawlessly that not for one moment it gives the reader any respite to put the book down and give it a break. It was almost like reading a perfect thriller so much that my mom actually asked me if I am having a day off as refused to sleep as I just couldn’t help it. As Shankar qualifies for the big event and goes off to play at Wimbledon the Mecca of Tennis If I may call it that. The memory of Centre Court flashed in my mind, Wimbledon for me means a chair umpire saying on PA system "Silence please..... Thank You!!" whilst the greatest of great from Tennis world played each other in thrilling games. I stopped watching Tennis after Andre Agassi retired and now I regret that I unfortunately read this book after the Wimbledon just got over, had I read it a couple of weeks ago, I would have relived the whole memory watching Federer win yet again this time. How far Shankar Mahadevan will go in Wimbledon and what all goes through in his personal life as well as in background makes up for a thrilling ride for the reader.
Brilliant is the way he has explained the whole game of Tennis for someone who hasn't played or seen the game yet. No spoon feeding but very smartly explained. I had no idea that Wimbledon Centre Court had a glass roof :) got to know that from this book. Another thing that I loved about this book is the character names. Shankar Mahadevan the kid, his dad Anant Mahadevan, chair umpire Eva Mendes :) had me in smiles all through. Plus the music, book and movie references all tell us about the Author's passion towards them. I was never a Bob Dylan fan but I guess now I've got to check his songs out after reading this book, need to know what I have missed. Also, if this book gets proper attention and gets into the hands of right people like our Sports Ministry and people are passionate about sports with some authority, it could do wonders. The way Author has picked up the little nuances of not only the game but the other things too that one needs to keep in mind while making sports legends from our part of the world. It’s so doable yet we have failed to make our mark in International arena even after a billion in population we still have no say in almost any sports barring of-course Cricket which hardly a handful of countries play. This book can be a Bible of not only Tennis but any sport if taken in the right manner. You've got to read it and read it some more as Anant Mahadevan not only fulfills his dream but what he does further is applaud worthy and the way he does it, I am sure with right funding and heart in all the right places we can certainly achieve the dream of seeing an Indian in the Centre Court lifting a Wimbledon trophy in very near future. I wish it happens in my life time though.
Have you read the book? Do let me know if you liked it, any other sports fiction from our part of the world that you know of? I do not.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie.
I haven't read an Agatha Christie novel for like a decade now because once you start with any of her book, it is just not possible to read one and move on to other writers. As always is the case with any Agatha Christie book that its totally hooking, engrossing read and by the time your done with it, the reader in you starts asking for more and you very well know that this appetite cannot be satisfied by any other writer as no one comes close to her standards. The guessing game as it happens with all her works is damn tough and think as hard and try as harder I could, I just couldn't guess who was killing all of them in this one too as the title suggests. I would have never picked this up as I am in no position to buy anymore books (financially :() but a very darling friend came from Bangalore and got me this and one each from Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Haruki Murakami. See I have those kindda friends and no doubt they know that I love them from the bottom of my heart, really Veekey :) I love you big time - keep them coming :) Bangalore has some real kool people I tell you.
Also, I am no poetry guy and have hardly ever read any poems or remember any barring those kindergarten poems like BaBa Blacksheep, Johny Johny, Yes Papa and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star but this one got me totally hooked and I just cant not mention it here as the book and story kept making me go back to the poem so many times (read ten for minimum) and by the time I finished the book I was not only smiling ear to ear but I had the poem by heart by then :).
Ten little Soldier boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine. Nine little Soldier boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight. Eight little Soldier boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were seven. Seven little Soldier boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six. Six little Soldier boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five. Five little Soldier boys going in for law; One got into Chancery and then there were four. Four little Soldier boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three. Three little Soldier boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two. Two little Soldier boys playing in the sun; One got frizzeled up and then there was One. One little Soldier boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.
Terrific Story and what amazing suspense till the very end, if someone actually tears up the last two pages of any Agatha Christie book, I guess the reader will go mad not knowing the ending. This precisely applies to this book too even after knowing right at the very start that the Ten little soldiers (characters) are all going to die, what you want to know is who is killing them as its never a why in this story but who and how too :). Ten strangers are invited to a secluded Island which is cut off from the world, each one has a background for which he or she is supposed to pay a price although they have no idea of the same till they reach there and the killings start but by that time its too late, Island is totally cut off from the rest of the world as bad weather, distance and no boats coming back with supplies next day confirms it to all the remaining alive very next day that they are doomed. What they do next to safe guard themselves and how they keep guessing the killer among-st them as there is no eleventh person on the Island makes up for a terrific read. This is definitely one of her best works if not the totally best and I loved it. Looking forward to her other works now as I guess she in total wrote 76 novels :D.
Do let me know if you read this one, were you able to guess the killer? and if you haven't read it so far, guess its high time you read this and tell me how many times you went back to that lovely poem while reading the book :).
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
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.
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
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
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.
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 :).