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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Well firstly, Calvino didn’t write this novel (or antinovel, like I read somewhere) so that some random reader would read this epic book and dare to have an opinion. He has already pampered his readers enough to expect any kind of judgment on this awesome work of his. He made you the effin Protagonist for heaven’s sake or was it a master stroke on his part? 

Anyways, so I read this another book, Goosebumps- Escape from the Carnival in my childhood, wherein the reader needs to make a choice from the various options given at the footnotes in order to ESCAPE from the Carnival and as a result, the book became suitable for n no. of re-reads. And no, I am not trying to establish a relationship or comparison between the two books but can’t help myself admiring this kind of experimental literature where the reader feels like a part of the book from both inside and outside. 

So what could be the possible aspiration behind such inventive writing? An aim to constitute a cult or to write something which being a reader one always wants to read (He mentioned Arabian Nights more than once which could be a possible influence). Having read Invisible Cities before, I expected the unexpected from this book but didn’t expect to be completely knocked out. The structure is not the sole winner here but the content too about which I was not entirely convinced with Cloud Atlas (That reminds me, Thank you Mr. Mitchell for introducing me to Mr. Calvino). Of course there are no lessons learnt from this book, no philosophies thrown in your face to make you consider bigger questions about life but it's an experience about the experience of reading. Well Of course you can ask yourself, “ So, what kind of reader are you? Or; What kind of books you like? “ Hmmmmm

Here’s an excerpt from an interview Of Italo Calvino :


Turgenev said, “I would rather have too little architecture than too much because that might interfere with the truth of what I say.” Could you comment on this with reference to your writing?


It is true that in the past, say over the past ten years, the architecture of my books has had a very important place, perhaps too important. But only when I feel I have achieved a rigorous structure do I believe I have something that stands on its own two feet, a complete work. For example, when I began writing Invisible Cities I had only a vague idea of what the frame, the architecture of the book would be. But then, little by little, the design became so important that it carried the entire book; it became the plot of a book that had no plot. With The Castle of Crossed Destinies we can say the same—the architecture is the book itself. By then I had reached a level of obsession with structure such that I almost became crazy about it. It can be said about If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler that it could not have existed without a very precise, very articulated structure. I believe I have succeeded in this, which gives me a great satisfaction. Of course, all this kind of effort should not concern the reader at all. The important thing is to enjoy reading my book, independently of the work I have put into it.

Enjoyed to my heart’s content Sir.

Definitely a 5 star *****

P.S. I need to know the ending of that Arabian Nights story. Hope it’s available somewhere. 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

I read this book around 2years ago but the impact it had on me is still fresh and very strong. There are many things which I can’t recall about it, but I am very much aware of the message it carried for its readers.

The story is about a 16-year old Indian boy, who along with his family and their zoo animals (the family owned a zoo) decided to move to Canada for better living prospects and embarked their journey on a ship, which fate had it, drowned and left Pi stranded in the huge ocean but not alone. He was accompanied by a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a 450-lb Bengal tiger named "Richard Parker”, and hence began his quest for survival amidst that huge man-eating beast.

This book propels you to ask many questions about life, faith, destiny and mainly the existence of God. Had Pi being a non-believer, ordinary fellow, would it had been possible for him to go through this ordeal all alone, by not being the only living being but being the sole Human Being? May be yes, may be No! But here not only he was a strong believer but a rational believer too as he adopted three religions, not for the sake of it but to be closer to an invisible supreme power who protects us, and I quote here:

"And so, when she first heard of Hare Krishnas, she didn't hear right. She heard 'hairless Christians', and that is what they were to her for many years. When I corrected her, I told her that in fact she was not so wrong; that Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims."

70% of the book engages the reader with the adventures of Pi and Richard Parker, but along the journey there are many symbolisms which need to be noticed in order to catch the true essence of this story. Though it gets a bit slow and tedious in between but it’s worth the effort, and no harm in skipping few pages.

Now, there are certain books which strike you all along with turn of every single page and there are some, the ending of which is the main hero. That’s exactly the case with Life of Pi. Its ending shall leave you baffled and mystified. It will make you feel responsible to answer something, and if you won’t answer it, you’ll feel anxious and perplexed, so better answer it..No!!

It’s a 4 Stars for me ****.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

An Open Letter to America

which unfortunately I read late, around 5 years late. Why unfortunate? B’coz I might have liked it or may be loved it as I was a na├»ve reader back then i.e I was into Sheldons and Archers and closer home Bhagats *blushes*. Anyways, I was well aware when this book hit the literary world and took it by storm. The dashing title, a Pakistani author, a reluctant subject, a movie in the making by Mira Nair and that’s precisely the reason I wanted to read the book before watching the movie , so bought a copy and was yayyyyyyyyyyyyyy…finally…great read it’s gonna be!!

1st page: ok.

2nd page: yea okk.

3rd page: Ahan! I know where you are heading.

50th page: err…no, I don’t think so where you are heading, but I sense a twist just around the corner.

100th page: A love story…girl’s lover dead…can’t forget him….a clinic…I once had a girl…Norwegian wood…Yes! Yes!...No! ok :|

183rd page: just few more lines and then contact Agent J a.k.a. Will Smith and request for the memory eraser toy and move on to your next Murakami read. 

And Noooo!! (Kindly excuse for the superlatives) I didn’t hate this book but hating the fact that why I couldn’t appreciate it in any way possible. It made me uncomfortable throughout rather than excited and the most irritating part is that you are compelled to read it till the end in the hope of getting hold of the whole idea of this book. At the end, the author hurled a very smart curve ball towards his readers…leaving most of us in dilemmas, some on the side of Changez (the protagonist), some on the side of Mr. America (envying that delectable Lahori food he had) and some wishing to watch the re-run of 2011 epic cricket world cup semi-final between India and Pakistan and marveling at its brilliance and that moment when…Aargh..I never knew writing the review would be a similar experience like that of reading this book..distracting!! 

This is the second book I read of a pakistani author, first being My Feudal Lord by Tehmina Durrani, which I judged on the basis of its subject and not on writing style and since I read it around 6 years ago, all I could recall was that it was simple but affected me enough to evoke emotions of empathy which might not hold true at present having read many great books and becoming more aware and objective about the world around me since then so it might not feature in the league of extra ordinary but it definitely left an impression which reluctant fundamentalist as I highly doubt shall fail to do so. As the story was unfolding it became, hardly audible and incredibly distant. And the writing style!! I wish the narration was in one to one style as it started bothering me after few chapters, may be the execution was unconvincing or plain dull *oxymoron*. 

This book has some great ideas but somehow fell short of the elements that would have made it a great page turner. It felt too safe and too confined for my taste. Islamic Fundamentalism is a sensitive subject and needs to be handled carefully without actually conveying any negative message or an ambiguous one but what Mohsin Hamid as seemed, resisted from going out of his comfort zone and stating everything at a superficial level without actually diving deep.

The only thing I found acceptable was his realization of being victimized or prone to victimization because “I am a Muslim”, but like I stated that I read it a bit late so in today’s time this has become a bit redundant and again not helping in scoring brownie points for Mr. Hamid. 

For me it's 2 stars ** ,  simply because as a writer he definitely has potential provided he let himself go of all the inhibitions if he’s having any, from his literary genes.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Shantaram is not a book but a way of life. I read it around 2years ago but every word of this epic novel is still vivid in my mind. I remember I had to convince myself to read it as it’s a long book of 900 odd pages, but it had me with first few lines only.

This is the work of semi-fiction revolves around a fugitive convicted in maximum security prison of Australia and as destiny had it, he landed up in Mumbai, which sooner than later became his beloved home. From the world’s largest slums in the world to the dark streets of underworld, the protagonist, Lin, spells a journey for us who gives us an immense idea of how we all are slaves in the hands of love and fate.

Sometimes to appreciate the beauty of our own thing we must watch it by adopting the eyes of a foreigner to appreciate its true essence and beauty. Gregory David Roberts did exactly that for his readers by providing an outside yet very homely view of our beloved India. It will make you feel proud being an Indian what I believe.  The writing is great, gets wobbly at times but forgivable and knowing the fact that the author is not trained writer, one can’t help but appreciate more for his great effort. This is easily one of the best books on my bookshelf with the greatest quotes any book can give.

Definitely one of those books one should read before one dies, it might change your view about life.

***** 5 stars without any qualms.

A study in scarlet is the introductory novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which primarily brings up his most celebrated literary character, Sherlock Holmes along with his comrade Dr. Watson with much delight to the readers around the world for whom the word spying became tantamount to Sherlock Holmes.

I am a self confessed Holmes fan evident from the fact that my first book at a very young age was the Complete works of Arthur Conan Doyle, the copy of which I still have as a prized possession.

The plot is simple, a murder mystery and how it is to be solved. What is fascinating rather is the impeccable description of characters as well as the situations as the story unfolds.

Some literary works should be the constant companions of readers and Sherlock Holmes is one of the best literary buddy one could ask for.

It’s a *****5 stars for me.