So world book day today… Sending all of you who love to read a happy day. Which brings me to, what kind of a reader are you? Does that question sound weird?
I have my reading days where I cannot put down a book, and continue reading without a care for food or drink, rain or shine. Then there are those set of days when I have my reading blocs where I wouldn’t touch a book if I can help it. Then there are days in between where I have a book or two around me which I’ll be reading from. My prof tells me to read at least 1000 words a day, and read three books at the same time, a morning, lunch and evening book varying in plot, its degree of intensity and genre.
I just finished reading “The Killing of Polly Carter” a few days ago. A breeze of a read, a very similar style to Agathe Christie kind of murder mysteries and solving them. It reminded me of one of Mrs Marple’s cases she solved in the Caribbean when she was on vacation.
As I am waiting for yet another Harry Potter to arrive and make me smile, I go back to a reading tale! Well, I don’t think you’d know I had this post hidden somewhere 😛 or that temptation changed meanings over the last two days 😛
This was a post written around July 2015 when Rowling was on the verge of publishing a third book as Galbraith in the Detective Cormoran series. When a post was put up in a book group I am part of, there was a comment from a member as to why the pseudonym at all since the mystery behind the face behind Galbraith is known to the world of readers and publishers, then why stick to it. This post is an afterthought to that question.. I’m amused the lanes through which post ideas walk in.. this one from a comment, and it pushed me to put together an answer.
I was thrilled about the release of The Casual Vacancy. My journey with JK Rowling began with Harry Potter like most of ours did, and what mattered now was that she was writing again. I was so excited just like during the the release of a HP book that I started a count down to the release of this one too. When the guy from Flipkart called, I was surprised to find that there were three to four copies of the Vacancy in his big delivery bag to be distributed to the residents of the campus. I was not the only one brimming with excitement over a new book. It does not always matter this shared excitement, but at certain moments when I find a kindred soul, the comfort of that feeling is immeasurable.
The book arrived, and I did not waste a minute to start the reading. It was a hardbound copy, a little too big to fit into my hands. The physicality of the book neither dimmed my thrill nor created a tired howl! I started to read, turned page after page.. and found to my dismay that the story was nothing like Harry Potter! There! that was how I did a disservice to both Rowling and the Vacancy! I compared and started on the wrong foot!
It took me a while to understand the whys of why I did not enjoy the Vacancy at all or enjoyed it in parts. I was always thinking of it from a reference point of her previous seven books on Harry Potter. It was difficult to tear her away from the image of the one who weaved together the magical world of Potter, and cast her into the role of a writer of mundane muggle stories. I did read the novel at a later point, and quite enjoyed it after skipping the first 150 pages or so, when it started to edge towards the mystery! (It could be my bias for a good mystery novel that I did not care that much for the intricately woven character profiles in the first 100 pages).
Time passed by and Robert Galbraith appeared. I bought a copy and finished the story in one go, sitting up a whole night! I was partially aware that it was Rowling in disguise, but this book worked better for me thanVacancy. It could be the distance between the Potter series and this one in time.. it could also be the pseudonym. I guess, a pseudonym such as Galbraith shakes away that connection, the name Rowling has with Potter, at least partially and temporarily, although it does play in the back of our heads! Through Galbraith she may be expecting some kind of a magic trick (See I bring in magic again, this is the problem Rowling faces ;))”
Potter is just one of her writerly faces, but that one face has made a deep impression! The pseudonym therefore works to remove her from that face and cast her anew into a new one. At least that is what I think..the name, Galbraith, does not sound anything like Rowling, or a writer of Potter to me.. Galbraith makes me think of big books with mysterious cover pages.. with a shade of black in it.. and spells sleuth!
Of all the books I have read so far, I will not re-read the Kite Runner! It took a month or more for me to get out of that book after I finished reading it. In addition to it being one of my longest reads I’ve undertaken so far. The trauma Hosseini describes was getting to me so much and becoming so real, that I had to stop reading, take a break, do some thing for a fresh vibe, and then get back. Sometimes I wonder why I took the pains to finish reading it after all the catharsis it made me go through. But it is with some books, like it is with some people, they entice you.. and drag you back into them, and then make you feel the pain!
The Ice Candy Man comes a close second. Earth wasn’t as cathartic as the novel, even though Aamir Khan played his devious part pretty well. But the read, as a standalone as well as companions to Kartography and Noor, spelled trouble for me. I’ve already re-read it once. But that would be it, I guess. Urvasi Bhutalia’s The Other Side of Silence can make up the third which is a collection of memoirs of people who experience the Partition! Let me add Manto’s short story Khol Do to this list. The link takes you to the story online!
Goes without saying that reading experience of these pieces is such because they are written really well. It affects the senses it targets in the reader! Some books need to read just once, their impression lasts for a lifetime.
If I could unread a book so I could read it again for the first time, give me Harry Potter – Book 1, I would love to be mesmerized again entering Diagon Alley and Platform 10 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, give me a Phantom, or Tintin or Batman! The fact is, I never get tired of Harry Potter or these comics, or Blyton stories, or Alice in Wonderland, or Midnight’s Children or… I’ve lost count of the many times I’ve re-read them even when I have known the story from any where in the book. I’ll add Shaffer’s epistolary Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and Cussler’s Trojan Odyssey, the book that introduced me to who else but the ever so dashing, Dirk Pitt.
July begins with books! Re-read, un-read or your Current Read. Let’s makes a list.
Let me start with a question, list 10 Mughal Emperors in Indian History? Write them down somewhere.. I’ll come back to that later, but before that I need to share with you my excitement about the title of the post.
If you put British History and Indian History side by side, you’ll come to know that Akbar and Shakespeare are contemporary to each other. Strange? I thought they lived in different worlds, Oh! they did, but those different world were their different continents. However, they lived their lives almost during the same years.
Time for another fact. Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, Akbar died in 1605, Shakespeare lived a decade longer and died in 1616.
All this, when set out in this fashion makes me feel rather excited about information in general and about these people in particular. I have never put Shakespeare and Akbar together before. I knew their dates, works and their years individually within their context, and the context of say, East India Company and the Plymouth, but never in this way, across countries. By that same logic, the second battle of Panipat was fought in 1556. It was in 1558 that Elizabeth became the Queen of England. Here in what has become India today, a 14 year old Akbar makes a statement in the battle field against Hemu, and there, Elizabeth succeeds her sister Mary and start making statements and tries to bring peace!
I’ve been reading Alex Rutherford for quite a while now. I read his first two books on Babar and Humayun, I picked up Akbar then and then Jahangir. He has written about Shah Jahan too in his latest book released this year. It so happened that while visiting a friend (and as is practice) I was attracted to her book shelf. She had just finished reading the first book in the series on Babar. She lent it to me and there I began my journey with Rutherford through one of my fav periods in Indian history. Favourite because with Mughal history in class 7 our class got an amazing history teacher. She made us or rather me love history (I can speak for myself and not my classmates as such) and since it all began with the Mughals, it is a special love.
So if you ask me the question name 10 Mughal Emperors I would scratch my head, because I have only studied 7. Babar, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurengazeb and Bahadur Shah Zafar. William Dalrymple has made the last Mughal Ruler famous with his book, The Last Mughal, just think of that cover pic! Now who are the other 3 if I have to complete a 10 point list. This question is also borrowed. I happened to watch it on a TV Quiz show, where according to its format, each team is asked list 10 names of a topic of their choice from a list in a stipulated time. When this question came, I was genuinely puzzled. Because my school history textbook gave me only 7 prominent names, I raked my memory, avoided the enticing google to get answers.. but nothing appeared in my head from school memory. When the quiz master revealed the answers I was taken aback to see the names!
To test if I was the only one who was taken aback and puzzled by this question and ignorant about the remaining rulers, I put forth this question to an assorted group of my friends, this is a varied group who studied in different schools in different parts of India, under different school boards. I was wishing at least one of them would give me at least an 8th name. One of the first counter questions most of them asked was “how come 10” is it a list of Mughal Emperors of India or in Mughal History as a whole starting with Timur! “Isn’t it 7” was other counter question, and they all listed the names they knew in chronological order.
The problem seems to lie in the way history is taught in our schools. Between Aurangazeb and Bahadur Shah Zafar there are many Mughal Emperors, but the textbooks we studied consolidated all their names into either one or two paragraphs or to a page, when these seven were given dedicated chapters.
Coming back to excitement about the contemporaneity, that bit of information still excites me, sharing it with you, if you too like me is beginning to see the connection.
I’m very interested in the title of this year’s Booker winner… part of it says, “a brief history …” like its namesake “a brief history of time,” or “a briefer history of time,” or “my brief history”.. or the other book “a short history of nearly everything” what are the other book titles with a similar set of words..
Ok, switch to another film.. Julia & Julie I take you to that scene where her editor at Knof is suggesting titles for Julia’s book on that board on the wall in her office..She had picked up a few keywords from the book.. was toying with those words to bring forth the best these words could for the sake of the book… and tada.. Mastering the art of French Cooking was born.. It could have been just an imaginative exercise for the film adaptation of the book..
But I loved this scene of title making .. the thought that has to go into making one.. we could use it for creating titles for blog posts.. Most of us would say, if I ask that question on how you choose titles for your posts.., “oh it is random” with that hint of modesty and triviality (almost like it comes naturally, oh it does!) but I say, that unconscious natural randomness comes from the context of the post.. 🙂 😀
To random ramblings, book titles and the new booker..
PS: Booker books and I are not the best of friends.. I find them boring though they find a way to enter my book shelves.. once there I try to read them.. but they sit on that book shelf which says, “tried reading, could not finish.. cannot read another word..” Exceptions Midnight’s Children (which was initially a tough read) and The God of Small Things (my love/hate book). Plus, I do not read books just because they have the booker tag! So, that’s the picture 🙂
Vidhya’s tag comes at a most apt moment, I was lazy to blog long and here she has given me a ready made prompt, 10 sentences on love. The lazy me resorted to the current read, Kavita Kane’s second book Sita’s Curse. Oh! The little I read, it seems like mush overload, a little too much for my taste..
This is my reading tale of Sita’s Sister in 10 lines handpicked from the novel. Sita’s sister is based on The Ramayana but focuses on the character of Urmila, Lakshman’s Wife and Sita’s sister. I picked this book up because I enjoyed Kane’s maiden novel, Karna’s Wife, everything including the cover page design. It was an adaptation of the Mahabharata but from Urvi, Karna’s wife’s point of view.
10 moony-eyed lines from Sita’s Sister, of which the 10th is my favourite. Calling all the10 lines moonyneyed is unfair because these lines presents love in shades, between siblings, partners, parents .. The pattern I followed for the prompt – the line from the text. (name of the chapter, the page number.)
“Sita!” Joy and relief gurgled out as a squeal from Urmila’s throat. (The Four Sisters, 4)
“A wide-eyed, lovelorn idiot,” Urmila corrected teasingly. (The Two Princes, 15)
“And my brother is that unparralled man, the only one to pick up the bow when others could not even move it,” intervened Lakshman. (The Swayamvar, 37)
“You scarcely let any of us know of your feelings for Ram’s brother,” Sita started in an openly accusatory tone. (The Lovers, 43)
Beaming with unconcealed joy, Sita hugged her younger sister tightly and long, as if to never ler her go. Urmila could feel the joy bubbling inside Sita and did not have the heart to diffuse the euphoria. (The Lovers, 45)
She now had her parents’ permission and her heart’s sanction; it could not have been more legitimate. (The Lovers, 53)
“How am I supposed to tell Urmila I cannot marry her.” There was frustration in Lakshman’s voice (The Rejection, 62)
“That is my quandry–I love you, to distraction and yet I don’t have the courage to marry you. Because I am a torn man, Mila” Lakshman said despairingly. (The Rejection, 65)
The love between the four brothers borders on devotion, especially the younger brothers’ dedication to Ram,” Kirti said. They would do anything for him and vice versa. (The Rejection, 75)
Falling in love was far easier than staying in love. Would then, living in love be a trying tale of trials or of triumphs? (The Four Weddings, 78)
I like Kane’s choice of a protagonist. She picks up those characters from a great work, here The Ramayana, who are part of the text but absent from the main plot because of the more well known characters namely, Sita. I wouldn’t have known Karna’s wife’s name or her relation to the main plot of the Mahabharata if not for Kane’s fictitious account of Urvi. It could be that Kane has a love for names in starting with U from Hindu mythology, Urvi, now Urmila.. I wonder who is next.. another U, Urvasi may be….
Ramayana is the story of Ram and Sita, and Lakshman, their 14 years of exile, Sita’s abduction by Ravan.. in the midst of these events Urmila seems to have become invisible.. kane turns the spotlight on her in this 2014 rupa publication.
Verdict: it is not that gods can’t be mushy.. it is just that the story for me borders on the genre of the romance, a genre I’m never been keen on reading. In addition, the editor could have taken a little more care, there are many spelling mistakes, especially in the names of the characters….by then the book starts to irritate. I sum it up as “sardonic..” the most used word in the story, at least 5 times in a chapter so far 🙂
PS. (May write a review after or if I finish reading)
It could be that love is too generic a term to describe the fascination and attraction to something of this kind; add in the factors of transience, add in the fact that love is with the words on the page. But these strings of words create an urge and manipulates (there, it is ironical to use in this instance, but think positive manipulation, then it turns oxymoronic :P) the senses of a feel of what it describes… I could see his plate, while reading about it.
It was love alright last night. And you have seen me post these bits on FB… Some of you have even started on the same path I’ve walked through since last night ….
Since I’m in a trance, it looks to me impossible to resist the urge …”It was a warm afternoon in early September when I first met the Illustrated Man. Walking along an asphalt road, I was or the final leg of a two weeks’ walking tour of Wisconsin. Late in the afternoon I stopped, ate some pork, beans, and a doughnut, and was preparing to stretch out and read when the Illustrated Man walked over the hill and stood for a moment against the sky..”
Half way through I was reading it aloud, hearing my own voice narrating the story. Some narratives are meant to be read aloud, and this seems to be one of them, a shade of the orality seeping into the tales, therefore, the urge to read out loud.
A few lines in, the text describes its content beautifully, “Each Illustration is a little story. If you watch them, in a few minutes they tell you a tale. In three hours of looking you could see eighteen or twenty stories acted right on my body, you could hear voices and think thoughts. It’s all here, just waiting for you to look. But most of all, there’s a special spot on my body.” He bared his back. “See? There’s no special design on my right shoulder blade, just a jumble.”
And further on when it is dusk, the narrator and the listener of the stories of the illustrated man encounters the truth behind the pain and fantasy he heard over the table. “The pictures were moving, each in its turn, each for a brief minute or two. There in the moonlight, with the tiny tinkling thoughts and the distant sea voices, it seemed, each little drama was enacted. Whether it took an hour or three hours for the dramas to finish, it would be hard to say. I only know that I lay fascinated and did not move while the stars wheeled in the sky. Eighteen Illustrations, eighteen tales. I counted them one by one.”
Bradbury’s Illustrated Man is a 1951 collection of 18 short stories linked together with the frame story of the illustrated man. Seen from the perspective of the man, life is horror, the stories are not that pleasing to the ears. In addition, the illustrations have powers to collaborate with the people he is associated with and show them gory details of their past, present and future. Obviously our illustrated man is lonely, he has no friends because people run away from him, as they are afraid of him and find the situation he is in, very strange.
I was watching an episode of Criminal Minds last night. It was about this unidentified subject who was found dead with tattoos all over his body in an abandoned warehouse. On inspecting the site, Dr Reid, linked the body art to the story of the illustrated man. The story and the 1969 film adaptation was mentioned a few more times in the episode. That was the trigger to get hold of the book, read and share it and write a blog post on it. However, while reading the stories, I realized that I have read some of the 18 stories, elsewhere without knowing their connection to such a powerful introduction piece. The fact that the stories make sense with and without the introduction is something.
At first sight: A man with a briefcase on the cover page, a Mr. Walker look-alike in silhouette. Nah! he is not our hero… he is the villain, the title of the book with the suffix -ster as in gangster, directs you to make that assumption. No ordinary ruffian, but a sophisticated villain in high places and positions, highly paid….. it is misleading 😛 because the novel is about villains not one, but a set of devious minds located at different parts of the world, operating with fake names, and cheating gullible people in the name of the faith they put into their hands… As a result, the one who solves the mystery in quick time, as it happens in our busy-no time-to-flirt-around world, is given a few pages after the so-called interval to create an impact to bring the frauds and fraudsters to light like the roles played out by Aamir Khan and Akhsay Kumar when they appeared in their brevity in space of Tare Zameen Parand Om My God!
The locale: An MNC Bank in Bombay– GB2, a spread of its employees from their CEO, the Vice Presidents, the Managers, the Trainees, the Interns to the customers. Subramanian gives us the neat picture of a bank, the front-end, the strategy parts and the back-end of its working intertwined with the levels of personal relationships between the colleagues. Good and bad, and everything in between, the fraternity of a few who are close to the CEO, the top management, the middle and the newer ones under the pressure of making a mark. Actually, as naive customers, do we realize that so much goes behind the lobby of the bank, behind the teller machines, the people at the counter, the manager of the branch…
Reading Tales: One time, Quick read. a page turner, realistic but at places, the pace slackens when some details are given out raw… otherwise, I finished the book, was hooked to it that I read it in small doses every night before I slept or whenever I permitted myself a reading break…
The Suspense element: You will sit up, just like we sat up when Richard Parker jumped out from under the boat’s base to attack the hyena in film adaptation of Life of Pi. Because it is unexpected.
Lows: How the three places, Angola, Bombay and Kerala are linked together. Distribution of fictional space is up to the author, however, the book would be as good if not for these places also. May be a little elaboration perhaps. However, the Kerala, Angola and Vienna, bring in the reach and spread of the fraudsters.
Take Away: How life goes on in an office even after a death has occurred, a colleague has died in unexpected circumstances | Life goes on or as they say in the show goes on with or without somebody. It is definitely a moment to pause about relationships today; who we care about for what and how long! Secondly, how not to trust a stranger or an institution blindly, we need to know the details, if we don’t then do the research before we jump into it, like one of those ads of the stock brokers say!
PS: I’ve taken after MJ with my dislike for banks and anything related to it inside those glass doors, but I love the ATMs and internet banking and of course, the shopping part of it 🙂 But clearly, that dislike did not deter me from enjoying the book.
The first thing that come into our minds when we read the title, Noughts and Crosses, is the game we play during a boring lecture when in a meeting, as part of an audience, while waiting for our turn backstage during a competition, or just for the sake of playing the game in our free time with a partner.
Simple things needed to play the game – it needs a background, it could be a sheet of paper, the last pages of a notebook, or a corner of a newspaper page, some tissue papers if there is nothing else available, on the sand if we are at the beach :P|
It requires two players to play out each side.
The most important part, the two sides are distinct – a knot and a cross look very different physically & visually, nobody can get confused between them, they are as distinct from each other as it gets.
It is a game, therefore, there is always a loser and a winner. We tackle each other and never let the other finish many a times, most of the times the games go into a draw,
most often the game is about not letting the other win and not winning either, isn’t not.
The story of the trilogy is based on almost verbatim on these lines. It is a game in action peopled with characters. The trilogy is dystopic in alignment. The overarching subject matter is racism. Except in here, there is an inversion in the racism practiced. It is a world where the lighter skinned are oppressed, they are the Noughts and the darker ones are the oppresses, the Crosses.
Book 2 in the series, Knife Edge, the only book I’ve read in this trilogy begins with Jude and Sephy, alternate chapters dedicated to each character. Jude is a Nought who is in hiding, he is one of those revolutionaries, who has strict nought rules to follow against Crosses, in the book he is out to kill his greatest enemy, Sephy, a Cross, who was his late brother Callum girl and the mother of his new-born baby, Callie. Until now there were only the Noughts & the Crosses, with the birth of Callie, there is a mixed race also. In hiding, Jude befriends Cara a Cross, purely for his monetary purposes but slowly finds himself falling in love with her. He is confused, and he beats her up in retaliation to his feelings, killing her in the process.
Reading experience : Interesting, and the pace of the book keeps the reader hooked to the story. I never realized I was nearing the end. However, it is a dystopia, there is very little happy moments in the process of reading the book from cover to cover. At one go it is about perceptions, how one becomes alienated from the society as a whole, because one does follow the societal norms – Sephy, a Cross, falls in love with Callum a Nought |This single incident makes her an outcaste among the rich crosses. At the same time, she is not accepted into the Nought community as well, she is seen as an outsider, a threat who took one of their comrades away, and got him killed! She is blamed for everything she does… what a dilemma! Stupid divisions in society, we want to break the rules and bring in reform, but nothing seems to happen, the story is about the struggle.
Wonder why most of the YAF are dystopic in subject matter! It is because the world reality we live in also tending towards and we are giving a slice of its experience to the children, in a miniature book form!
I’ve kept The Casual Vacancy aside and started on something else. I do this many times when a book starts to drag. But what happened here was not quite the conscious decision, but an unconscious one, when I picked up another book, Knife Edge from the table and started to read. I never stopped. One from Malorie Blackman‘s Nought’s and Crosses Series. I did not realize for quite some time that it was not the hardbound copy of Rowling, but a paperback edition of some other and I was thoroughly enjoying the narration.
Could be the mental strain of the laptop in the quarantine.
Could be anything, a reason to pin the mind not working
I enjoyed reading it is the end result of the day, will continue today
The Casual Vacancy needs to wait, Pagford, I think I will get back to you, nobody has put a gun to my head to review it this time, so far so good 🙂 Hope it does not go into one of those -to be finished shelves, and stay there unfinished for ever like The White Tiger. Pagford needs time, it requires patience, there are many characters here, and each has a complicated story, they are unsatisfied and leaves the reader in the same pool to say the least. The story picks up in the middle… if only one could skip the first 200 and the last 100 to read just the middle and understand everything, be happy 🙂