Sunday, September 19, 2010

Update on books read

Thought that it is time to post an update about the latest books read. So this is it.

by Orhan Pamuk: I wanted to read 'My Name is Red' but I found this one. As it seemed big enough and deep enough to keep me occupied for some weeks, I picked it up. Well, it took more like a couple of months to finish actually. No, it wasn't bad. Far from it. The writing is filled with beautiful imagery, very evocative and compelling. The description of the snow especially and the snow filled city especially, doing justice to the title. Of course, a lot more justification is uncovered as one progresses through the story. Based in a border town of Turkey called Kars (I guess it exists?) and mostly about the protagonist's trip to it. The protagonist, called 'K' is a famous poet, a friend of Pamuk, the main narrator, though the story is from the point of view of K. It places his personal tryst with love, caught up in the clash between the Islamic population, the staunchly secular military and the confusion of the coup led by a previously-famous theatre personality. Yeah, it all happens in the novel.

The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth: The reason I wanted to read this is because I admire Vikram Seth's poetry. And because this is so unique- written in verse! And because it is about 20-something adults, with jobs and stuff, trying to make sense of their loves, desires and hates while struggling against the irrationality in the minds. Initially, it is great fun to read the story in the perfectly rhyming verse but as one progresses deep into the story and identifies too much with the characters, one concentrates more on the story and less on the style ;). Before, reading I wondered how the author would be able to fit in dialogues (it would have seemed unnatural to find the characters rhyme their speech right :P), but he did it expertly. Normal sentences, break across the lines of the stanza such that the rhyming scheme is maintained immaculately. A book definitely worth reading.

e: A Novel by Matt Beaumont: On the topic of unconventional novels, here is another one. Quite a unique one at that. It is composed entirely in the form of office emails exchanged between some employees of an advertising firm in London. Set in a 2 week period coinciding with a major bid for a Coke campaign, the book is hilarious from the first page. The bitchiness, the absurdity and the false-sincerity that goes on in an office is aptly captured. In short, it is a book one cannot put down and wishes that the story would go on forever. Kudos to the author's ingenuity and style. If you do get to read this, I am sure you would agree that the most hilarious mails are from the Finnish CEO who isn't even supposed to feature in the story ;).

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig: A mostly non-fictional book about philosophy and stuff. I heard a lot about it for far too long but resisted reading it. Eventually, it has been forced down my throat and I had no other choice but to read it. As it says after the dedication page of the book, it is not very factual about Zen, and not very factual about motorcycles either ;). It is told in the form of the narrator talking to us while on a bike trip across US with his son and a long-time friend couple. But the trip description is only a facade for launching into the philosophy of the author about 'Quality'. These vignettes of wisdom are called 'Chautauquas' (the main new word I learnt from this). And there is another stream that runs in between these two, giving us insight about the past of the narrator, who is actually the author of course. No, it is not at all confusing :). And composed this way, the book is much easier to read than had it been all talk about philosophy only. Anyway, the book will definitely make you think.

Johnny Gone Down by Karan Bajaj: On my recent trip to a book store in Hyderabad, I was amazed to see how 'popular Indian literature' has exploded over the past couple of years. There seem to be hundreds of books written by young Indian authors for young Indians. I guess these books fill in the long-existing gap of Indian English novels for pure pleasure reading. To get a taste of it, I picked up this one because it was the cheapest (50% discount on a MRP of 100!) and I had read good reviews about it. It is a fast, gripping story on the lines of Shantaram and Forrest Gump. But being very short, it is not convincing enough. Nevertheless, good enough to pass time on a lazy afternoon :).

I have also recently read compendiums of short stories - both fiction and non-fiction - but one cannot really talk about them in the form of a summary. All I can say is that they were fun, usually more fun than a novel. :)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Dejected is not what she would have called her state of mind. Dejection suggests a cause. Hers is deeper. Doldrums would suit the description of her condition but she didn't like that. The metaphor about a stagnant ship in the middle of the Atlantic somehow did not reflect the despair and melancholy that has been pervading everything about her in these times.

She was in another of her endless supply of pensive moods but the irritation in her eye was distracting her. Finally gathering enough energy she rose, walked over to the mirror and looked at herself. Not really, she avoided looking at all of her face and so moved closer to focus on her mischievous eye. The problem was pretty obvious- a single miscreant black eye-lash had escaped from its position and was poking her eye instead. She carefully pulled it aside. The dissident eye-lash now calmly lay on her thumb. Just then she remembered. It is obviously silly but why deny an opportunity for hope? So she closed her eyes, wished, opened them to look at the gentle eye-lash and softly blew at it. It didn't budge. She was about to try harder when she suddenly recollected that the eye-lash is supposed to be blown away from the palm for the wish to take effect.

Slightly relieved, she placed it on the her palm and repeated the process of wishing with eyes closed. Then she blew at it to send it away into the realms of magic. But again it did not budge. She blew harder. And harder. And even harder. Every attempt increased her anger manifolds. After 4 attempts, she was disgusted with the whole affair and vigorously shook her hand to escape from the clutches of this vicious betrayer. But the eye-lash clung on obstinately. She threw up her hands in anguish and walked off in a huff.

Apparently, it isn't so easy to regain hope ... ;)