Saturday, September 14, 2019

Milkman by Anna Burns: My Read

‘Milkman’ makes you recognize Anna Burns’ capability as a writer; she is blessed with a unique authorial voice. Past that, you delve into the story that takes you round and round in a loop. Yes, it is a Booker Prize winner of 2018; the flattering reason for me to have picked this book.  

Now the author is either too explorative with her writing technique or a scary situation in Northern Ireland restricts her from naming her characters; even christening fictitious names would have probably put her in a soup.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Circe by Madeline Miller: My Read

Circe by Madeline Miller was published in 2018. I have not read her first book, the acclaimed ‘The Song of Achilles’, the retelling of Homer’s Illiad. Nonetheless, I had to read ‘Circe’ for all the wonderful reviews it received in last one year. It is indeed wonderful to see ‘The Odyssey’ coming alive through the eyes of one of its most vilified characters – Circe.
As Madeline Miller gives words to Circe, “I was not surprised by the portrait of myself: the proud witch undone before the hero’s sword, kneeling and begging for mercy. Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.” This sets the tone for the book. Madeline Miller carefully weaves the modern understanding of relationships, the concept of feminism and the unwarranted glorification of the male protagonist in this retelling.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Odyssey by Homer: My Read

For the one who has not read ‘Illiad’, ‘The Odyssey’ may set you on course through an unchartered territory. ‘The Odyssey’ is the world of ancient Greek mythology where humans, Gods, and monsters cohabit magical islands and kingdoms. At the heart of it, is the chivalry and valour of one man – Ulysses. It is said that ‘Illiad’ and then the sequel ‘The Odyssey’ were composed by Homer in 8th century BC.

‘The Odyssey’ is set ten years after the end of the Trojan War. The protagonist Ulysses (or Odysseus) sets on his journey back home to Ithaca after the fall of Troy. The ‘Illiad’, ofcourse, is the book where the Trojan War happens but you can comfortably read ‘The Odyssey’ without the background. Or, you can do a quick Google on the characters and the sides these characters took during the war. That’s what I did; it helped to have a ready referral on various Gods, nymphs and Kings. This clarity added pace to my reading.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Great Gatsby: My Read

What saves your day better than a ‘Classic’? And, I went straight to F. Scott Fitzgerald entering the world of ‘The Great Gatsby’.

This book was published in 1925 and potently portrays the pursuit of American dreams during the Jazz Age. Fitzgerald unapologetically brings out the snobbery, infidelity and class distinction of the rich class wrapped inside a tragic love story.

I think the reason why Nick Carraway becomes the narrator of the book than Gatsby himself, was to stress on the story from a moral high ground (as readers we would have done the same, had Gatsby began his story in the first person). Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction – Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.’ And, yet there is nothing but reverence in Nick for Gatsby. The same emotion will be shared by the readers too, transforming Gatsby to ‘The Great Gatsby’.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh: My Read

The Calcutta Chromosome is an experiment at best, a motley of science fiction (or medical fiction if such a term exists) and supernatural thriller. The research aspects on Ronald Ross, the recipient of Nobel Prize for Medicine, for his discovery of transmission of malaria by mosquitoes in 1902, are brilliantly portrayed. This book made me so fascinated to read about Ronald Ross, and the other Researchers involved in the research on malaria and syphilis in 1890s. On the fiction front, the story is mediocre at best, but then it is Amitav Ghosh’s writing which is bound to keep you riveted. 

The Calcutta Chromosome was published in 1995, and happens to be the third novel written by Amitav Ghosh. The book received the Arthur C. Clarke award for the best science fiction in 1997. With a work that early in author’s life, it becomes difficult to judge this book on the parameters post ‘The Glass Palace’, ‘The Hungry Tide’ and the Ibis Trilogy. Amitav Ghosh definitely took risk at such an early stage in his writing career, amalgamating medical fiction and local legends.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A Star is Born: Movie Review

Why did I listen to ‘Shallow’ a year back? Since then, I have got stuck with this song on a loop? The song is so powerful that once you watch ‘A Star is Born’, you cannot imagine it to work without this song. ‘Shallow’ anchors you to the great romantic-drama-musical ahead of you.

If you loved Bradley Cooper the first time you noticed him in ‘Sex and the City’, the second time in ‘The Hangover’ series and then couldn’t stop gasping after watching ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, then this is just the penultimate. This man acts and sings in a bearded, hairy avatar in such a fantastic way.

A Star is Born’ is the third remake of the original by the same name released in 1937. We have our own version in Bollywood as ‘Aashiqui 2’. Ofcourse, we had more of crying and playback singing in that one.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Manto: Movie Review

I had been so excited for this movie ever since I had seen the trailer. Ofcourse, it is not typical of Hindi movie industry to go ahead with a biopic and that too on a ‘writer’. Manto was released last year (2018), and yes, it took me a year to get to watch it!

Sadaat Hasan Manto was the revolutionary voice that graced undivided India, who later decided to settle in Pakistan. Manto showed his readers the mirror of their society and nonchalantly, presented the ugliness of their time. He died, too young at the age of 42 and in miserable condition. But as this movie acknowledges, he continues to live through his stories.

His writings had power to cage you within a depressing, cruel and an ugly world. The stories would linger in your head for long, making you uneasy and revealing a world which lives invisibly on the margins of our society. I always questioned why Manto did not write about politics or corruption or inspirational aspects of life especially in the daunting pre Independence era. Why couldn’t he write stories about Gandhi or Nehru instead of satirical columns with letters to Nehru or Uncle Sam? I had wanted to watch ‘Manto’ to get my questions answered but seems like Nandita Das strategically wanted to avoid explanations.  

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: My Read

‘Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia’ was published in 2006, as a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert. As journalist, the prowess in writing comes across proficiently increasing the readability factor. It is amazing how Elizabeth Gilbert manages to weave her spiritual journey with minimal anecdotes and characters in an intelligent, enjoyable way.

Far from Julia Robert’s land of ‘Eat Pray Love’, the book ‘Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia’ takes you through an emotional experience in a logical manner. To quote the book, “I wanted to explore the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India and, in Indonesia, the art of balancing the two.”

On an interesting note, the author writes that the tentative title for this book was “Don’t touch anything but yourself.” I guess it worked best for her to change to ‘Eat Pray Love’, more direct and yet so appealing without carrying the burden of an overtly spiritual self-help handbook.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

As Boys Become Men by Mukul Kumar: Book Review

Book Name – As Boys Become Men
Author – Mukul Kumar
Publisher – Rupa Publications

‘As Boys Become Men’ is the story of three friends – Mihir, Uday and Sandeep who hail from Bihar and come to Delhi with the objective of getting into the coveted Civil Services, set in the 90s. As you get to know that Mukul Kumar, the author is a Civil Servant from the 1997 batch, you realize the parallels in the story and a sort of autobiographical journey this book is meant to be.

As Boys Become Men’ is divided into 20 chapters wherein the first chapter is aptly titled as ‘Capsule of Present’ introducing us to an older Mihir, our main protagonist. Mihir, who is now a Civil Servant, is married and has a daughter living in Delhi. He is recently transferred from Shivpur. He is now hassled and is unable to get a good accommodation in the capital after living in a ‘sprawling bungalow’ previously.

Apart from this discontent, Mihir’s wife feels that absence of a goal in his life is making him frustrated. She recommends him to nurture the inner writer in him, foraying Mihir to reveal to the readers his glorious college days and struggles in clearing the Civil Services examination through his writings.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively: My Read

"You are public property – the received past. But you are also private; my view of you is my own, your relevance to me is personal…Egocentric Claudia is once again subordinating history to her own puny existence.”

Moon Tiger is written by Penelope Lively, published in 1987. Lively won Booker Prize for this book. So, I felt the book would be laden with details of the World War and the protagonist embroiled in high tension battle field. But then Penelope Lively can beautifully craft world history a personal experience with memories and dollops of emotions.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Eat Pray Love: Movie Review

I was re-watching ‘Eat Pray Love’ almost after 6-7 years as I was toying with the idea of reading ‘City of Girls’ by Elizabeth Gilbert which hits the stands now.

The movie was released in 2010, four years after the book by the same title written by Elizabeth Gilbert. The book has soon become the International best seller owing to its autobiographical account of the author. Ofcourse, you cannot judge the book by its cinematic version. There have been many disastrous book adaptations so I am not sure how ‘Eat Pray Love’ would be, compared to the book. (I just started to read this book and would soon write a review!)

Friday, June 7, 2019

A Trip to Ooty: My Travel Jottings

Ooty is made of dreams. A popular destination for Hindi movies and South Indian movies that we grew up watching. This is definitely one of those must-see places of the country.

There are two ways to reach Ooty, one through this direct route that I took and the second through Conoor. People prefer to take the second route as it gives the opportunity to bask in the beauty of Conoor before reaching Ooty. Another exciting way is to board on to the narrow gauge train from Mettupalayam. The toy train journey is sworn by many travellers. The famous ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ song from the movie Dil Se has made the tack memorable. Though, with my level of nausea and sickness, I prefer the shortest way possible that is by a taxi.
Tea Gardens on the way

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

In Exile by Anton Chekov: Short Story Reading

‘In Exile’ is a famous short story written by Anton Chekov, published in 1892. It is said that the story is inspired by Chekov’s journey through Siberia.

This story is about two opposing human perspectives on a similar situation.
pc google images

The story begins with Old Simeon, about sixty years old, nicknamed as Wiseacre and a young unnamed Tartar, about twenty-five years old, sitting on the banks of a river. In this isolated region, on their way to Siberia, there are three more ferrymen accompanying them, sleeping inside a hut while these two sit outside by the fire. These are people sent on exile based on  criminal conviction.