someday ill be in company of all....

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Book review:The bone people by Keri Hulme

Title:The bone people
Author: Keri Hulme
Publisher: Penguin books
Pages: 553
Price: Rs 930
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Personal

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Kelwin Holmes is a painter and a loner, convinced that "to care for anything is to invite disaster"..Her isolation is disrupted one day when a six year old mute boy ,Simmon, breaks into her house..The sole survivor of a mysterious shipwreck, Simon has been adopted by Maori factory worker Joe who eventually loses his wife and his other son to flue...Joe is horribly brutal towards the boy..The novel reveals each character's thoughts and feelings as they struggle with the desire to connect and the fear of attachment...

I haven't often come across disturbing characters at a single go, but this one is so alluringly haunting , I had taken for granted that only memoir could be like this..Get the help of index in the book or else anything in Maori language and its culture would just go over the head..I found the dialogues and thoughts of  characters to be very confusing, many times I kept wondering what and where and how things were moving ahead..But that is Hulme's style, even through the strange confusions you don't really want to put down the book..Then slowly I started to  like this book then slowly it ebbed away and towards the end I didn't know if I really liked it or not..I have not come across many writers who develop such contagiously disturbing characters...Hulme puts the readers right into Joe's mind that you get the psychotic vibe on his physical abuse towards Simmon his mute son...The characters seem strange yet interesting.. Kerewin an artist with her self imposed exile living in a tower by the sea..Simon has his memory completely washed out and being mute is unable to express a thing, yet his expressions are poetically put forward to the readers...Joe is held by grief of losing his wife and son finds , to get away from it , he gets it undone on Simon who is all troubled son..In spite of his love he consistently abuses his son...I also liked the way Maori culture and myth were intertwined into the story, giving insights on New Zealand's local life and people....Violence and self annihilation somehow becomes the core of the novel...Joe almost beats Simmon to death when Simon grabs a piece of glass to attack Joe both end up in hospital alive..Kerewin, Simmon and Joe share a muddled up relationship yet they care for each other..I also loved the way Hulme had created a situation by which the relationship is forced upon them, yet they take it and live by it....I also liked the way Simmon's character was used to highlight and develop the characters of Kerewin and Joe and their internal struggle for identity and choice of life and living....Simmon at times had my sympathy., losing his family he only had Kerewin and Joe to be something close to a family....Simmon quite aggressive he beats up older children breaks up window of neighbours even when he was in a good mood, the mind of a troubled mute boy just striked in me...Even when Kerewin comes to Simmon's rescue by suggesting an alternative in dealing with him to Joe, she eventually gives up when her own treasured things are taken carelessly away by Simmon and her window broken...Though Kerewin's loneliness and lack of family and happiness are fulfilled to an extend through Joe and Simmon, still she is resolute to come in terms of the absence of it through her life and art....Hulme's use of tenses again was a bit confusing...Reading the novel was vexatious to an extend still I marveled at the Hulme..She leaves many question unanswered, and the climax is left undone.,to take it  positively or negatively is up to ones's own ..Though in my personal opinion I don't see a place where these three souls would fit in together, yet human behaviour is so complex and unfathomable at times that anything could happen....I wouldn't recommend it to someone who wants to sit and relax with a book...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Review: The blood of flowers by Anita Ammirezvani

Title:The blood of flowers
Author: Anita Ammirezvani
Publisher: Headline Book publishing
Price: Rs 325
Page: 464
Genre:Fiction/ folktale
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Personal

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Set in seventeenth-century Iran, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS is the powerful and haunting story of a young girl's journey from innocence to adulthood. A village girl's dreams of marriage end on the death of her father. Cast on the mercy of relatives in fabled Isfahan, she and her mother are reduced to servitude until she reveals a talent for designing carpets – an invaluable skill. Hope is short-lived, for a disastrous, headstrong act results in the girl's disgrace. Caught between forces she can barely comprehend, she faces a life lived at the whim of others – unless she is prepared to risk everything and choose a future based on her own strength and will.

It is a saga of the protagonist whose name remains undisclosed through the end..Her struggle to make a mark in life in spite of the adversities bestowed upon her by fate...Set in during seventeenth century Persia the story swirls around the her life of the narrator who loses her father at the very beginning of the novel...Losing the bread winner of  the family, it goes down to the days of inadequacy of even the basic need for life..Thus her mother seeks the help of Gostaham her husband's step brother for help.. Though he takes them home their plight and tale never improves, they work all day like servants and have to deal with Goshtaham's wife who is eccentric....Gostaham is a talented carpet artist who works for Shah..Gostaham discovers the narrator's skill for the work and readily takes her under his wings and trains her well...But then fate plays its nasty games, earning the wrath of her uncle when she ruins an expensive carpet..Her life take a full turn and comes to where she started off all over again with no one to lean on...All she is left with a choice of Sigheh, a contractual marriage which would last for three months with an option of extension if the husbands desires..Her mother also forces her into it so that she would be paid bringing home some money for the household which she could use to buy raw materials for her work...She would be required to visit her husband when he expresses his desire..But the problem with this marriage is that after the period of three months she would be an outcast in the society....Such that she has very less options left at her disposal to get on with life...

Being that said the novel goes beyond the difficulties of the narrator, it explores the art of carpet weaving,the exquisite details of the design and the hard work that goes behind the work, at the same time it also puts forth the life of a girl in a turmoil when she has no father figure in life in a male dominated society..The narrator has great dreams for her future, she aspires to own a company of her own with people working for her...She is a free thinker and a determined lady, even when the future looks and dazzles bleakness...Through the narrator's mother we also get a glimpse of the folklore of Persia through many stories she recounts to her daughter....

All in all it was a very different read for me , had there been more details of the way of life their routine,ritual and everyday practices it would have created a whole lot of different mood for the reader....Though the melancholy is set right from the beginning, I was beyond irritated when she made took idiot steps inviting troubles to herself adding upon the existing ones, yet I liked her along the way as she grows up from a child into a woman wading through difficult water..Her mother though initially was such a sweetheart but her sudden change of colour somehow put me off.. Goshtaham is portrayed as a man of complete calm and love who helps the narrator throughly...Goshtaham's wife adds to the villainy part well...I would recommend this book to historic buffs though I will not promise great reading, but something different...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Book Review: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Title: This Lullaby
Author: Sarah Dessen
Price:Rs 576
Genre: Young adult Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Personal

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This review is been in my draft for the past two years..So I read this young adult romantic fling for fun and to complete the review.....Remy is all busy organizing things for a marriage apparently it happens to be her mother's, her fourth since her marriage with her father..Remy has another strong dig not knowing her father, except that he wrote a song "this Lullaby'" for her..She never knew him which takes away the faith and familial warmth a child needs early in life..Hence she is all cynical and skeptical about love but that doesn't mean that she remains single, she does has her share of boy friends ,but there is a  rule she religiously hold onto., that she breaks up before things get emotional or before getting hurt...Oh yea she has another rule to live by, never to get involved with a musician..She sticks to it until she meets Dexter a perfect complement to Remy... He is a dreamer, musician, an optimistic and above all true believer in love...

Now what happens when two such people meet?? Predictably love blossoms when opposite poles attract, much to the dismay to Remy.. She wants Dexter to be just a summer fling, while Dexter's persistence takes things ahead, while everyone is stunned including Remy..Things move smoothly until Dexter overhears about Remy stand on Dexter , that is  just another guy in her life..Oops that just hurt isn't!!!Dexter is disheartened and starts drift away from her much to her surprise and irritation..Will Remy come out of her shell of pessimism and hold on to the love that Dexter has been extending..Will she find love and life all over again??

To me Remy's character carried certain charm..She was not the bad term to the extend she thought..She is a tough and strong girl..Of course she has her issues, she has a bad habit of smoking which she quits, she also overcomes her urge to hard core partying and drinking..She always gets her way out of whatever she wants.. While Remy's mother's multiple marriage developed cynicism in her, Dexter had just the opposite effect, he became a hard core romantic growing up with different step fathers..Remy's best friends and Dexter's band mates were real people who stood by them when things went tough...The Remy-Dexter moments were charmingly done and I loved Dessen for that..She kept it light all through like a gentle breeze which caress  gently yet strong..
This book is again for a light hearted read, go for it you sure will enjoy the go..

Friday, March 6, 2015

Book Review : Hunger by Knut Hamson

Author:Knut Hamson
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Online

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Summary(from flipkart)
A true classic of modern literature that has been described as ?one of the most disturbing novels in existence” (Time Out), Hunger is the story of a Norwegian artist who wanders the streets, struggling on the edge of starvation. As hunger overtakes him, he slides inexorably into paranoia and despair. The descent into madness is recounted by the unnamed narrator in increasingly urgent and disjointed prose, as he loses his grip on reality.

A quick note before I get to the book..I wanted to read "Growth of the soil" by Knut that earned him Nobel Prize in 1920, but since I found Hunger before finding the other one I gave in to it..

Hunger is about an unsuccessful anonymous writer (lets call him hero) who is trying hard to meet his end meet through his writing skill..He goes around without food for days together, yet he is too proud to ask for help..He is a contrasting figure of psychological pride and survival...One day we find him annoyed by an old lady begging for food and soon we see him going to the extend of selling his vest in exchange of money giving away more than half of the share to her, while keeping smaller portions for himself when he himself hadn't had food...Next instant he thinks that the supreme power is against him and life very harsh and the very next moment we see him switch back to high spirits..

Our hero is quite strange in his own terms, he is impoverished yet has no complains, he wanders through the streets, has no money for food and  carries a clear conscience.. In an exceptional circumstance he steals food which leaves him deeply hurt so the next time when he has money he gives away all the vendor just to free himself from guilt..Above all he is too proud of himself, he doesn't ask for a ticket even when he has been with no food three or four days in  row..He is seen through starving most of his days worse unemployed too...He amuses himself by various tales around and keeps on going planning his work in the coming days...Finally he decides to leave all this sufferings for good and start a new life.. Does he succeed?? Read it to find out..

I took  my own time to get a hang about the story and when I got it I got my pace quite well..The novel is simple, easy to follow and a good read...The hero loves the things around him,the way they are he doesn't feel low about himself or the situations yet he is not sure about that many times..

I was so surprised to hear his name as a link between Dostoevsky and Kafka, even with a Nobel prize to his credit he seemed largely invisible among readers... in short this book would be a different read, as there are no plot to take the novel forward but only events that makes our hero's day and night...There is nothing remarkable about our hero yet his goodness stays throughout untouched by harsh situations of life... 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Book Review: Born under a million shadow by Andrea Busfield

Title: Born under a million shadow
Author: Andrea Bursfield
Publisher: Transworld
Price: Rs 738
Pages: 384
Genre: Historic fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Source: Personal

From backcover:
The Taliban have disappeared from Kabul's streets, but the long shadows of their brutal regime remain. In his short life eleven-year-old Fawad has known more grief than most: his father and brother have been killed, his sister has been abducted, and Fawad and his mother, Mariya, must rely on the charity of family to eke out a hand-to-mouth existence.
Then Mariya finds a position as housekeeper for a charismatic western woman, Georgie, and Fawad dares to hope for an end to their struggle. He soon discovers that his beloved Georgie is caught up in a dangerous love affair with the powerful Afghan warlord Haji Khan, a legendary name on the streets of Kabul. At first resentful of Haji Khan's presence, Fawad learns that love can move a man to act in surprising ways, and an overwhelming act of generosity persuades him of the warlord's good intentions.
But even a man as influential as Haji Khan can't protect Fawad from the next tragedy to blight his young life, a tragedy so devastating that it threatens to destroy the one thing Fawad thought he could never lose: his love for his country.
Afghanistan being  in much trouble for many years has been a topic of journalist turned writers, for fiction and non-fiction alike and all of them have a shared  shade of melancholy drawn all  through it..
Fawad (do read the epilogue of why author chose this name) eleven year old boy has lost all in his family except his mother by the atrocities of Taliban reign.. Living on charity of his relatives his life revolves into hand to mouth state in a shattered home..Still he grows up into an intelligent, strong, brave boy with a fling of  optimism  with  dreams and hopes for a better tomorrow..Meanwhile his mother Mariya is offered a job as a housekeeper at Georgie's house..Along Georgie we are introduced to two other friends James an engineer and May an engineer with whom Georgie shares her house..Then on the story kick starts with Fawad developing a big time crush on Georgie who is intelligent, well read and caring..To Fawad's utter dismay Georgie is involved with Haji Khan an Afghan warlord...He can only watch helplessly as the relation blossom...But soon things threaten to fall apart...

I loved the way  Busfiled handled the plot ,the characters are so lovable, she has made it her point to make all the characters memorable just as that of the protagonist's, from Jamilla to Spandi -Fawad's playmates to James , May all stay deep in....Fawad who is introduced as a young boy,with nothing around to hold on to, his journey to being a young man with all the internal conflicts that of  love , hate, distress and loss are portrayed well that you can't help but wish him well..Haji Khan epitomizes the darker part of the Taliban regime...The relation of Haji and Georgie goes through without much drama and fan fare giving the right picture with right dimension to the reader...All along the novel Bursfield's love for the country its culture and people pumps up...The human spirit at the hands of hard times and pressure, kinship , love and zeal to lead along are all portrayed without being preached..Bursfield has stayed away from making any political statements yet her stand comes clear and vivid through various situations Fawad comes face to face...Fawad comes to learn many things from alcohol to sex through the three foreigners..For him they a window to the world outside his.. Even through the hard times Fawd keeps his wit and humour alive..I loved the way Fawad played the role of matchmaker for his mother and the blind shopkeeper was a real treat to read along...

I loved the book for the beauty of the language and the style to portray a distressed life that could be changed  by way of perception..

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Review: Amphigorey by Edward Gorey

Title: Amphigorey
Author: Edward Gorey
Publisher: Turnaround publisher service
Pages: 189
Price: Rs 1241
ISBN: 9780399504338
Genre: Art / fiction/ satire
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Borrowed

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Summary (from good reads)
The title of this deliciously creepy collection of Gorey's work stems from the word amphigory, meaning a nonsense verse or composition. As always, Gorey's painstakingly cross-hatched pen and ink drawings are perfectly suited to his oddball verse and prose. The first book of 15.

Amphigorey is the first among the series of book of three.I happened to read this book in strange circumstances  just like the bizarre collection of stories that set a classic example for social satire..There are fifteen short stories in this book and each one a unique in its own way..Gorey's illustration is something that one would find it quite different from any of the books one usually reads..I read the stories at random and though unique some of them where not my cup of tea .....

What would you do with ghastly, grim, sullen and somber circumstances and events?? Tone it down so much that they start tosound amusingly witty..I think anyone but  Gorey could do this kind of work with these stories..

There are kids such that in that of  "The Grashlycrumb Tinies" who die at unusual circumstance that is amusing ..But then can you believe that? well that is Gorey for you.. Gorey has created an era that is strangely funny , creatures are strange and quite fantastic at that as in "The Doubtful guest", it is a story of an animal visiting a family much to the irritation and dismay of the family, worse part it doesn't talk while dropping their precious belonging to the pond stealing towel and so on, the family is never able to get rid of it even after 17 years, while the animal doesn't show any sign of leaving in near future either..The Unstrung harp is another interesting hypnagogic conversations in an authors head, his creativity that roots in and branches out as tales..The mental pressure when an author is unable to pen down his thoughts his frustrations and creating a masterpiece and trashing them all are depicted in an unusual way ...
"The hapless child" was one story that in spite of its melancholy aura, could be for a normal read. Its about Charlotte Sophia whose father, Colonel dies on duty, mother too dies of ill- health, she is sent to a boarding school where the teachers are cruel, her fellow mates bizarre to the extend that they tear off her doll's limb, to escape all this she runs away  only to come face to face with thugs who are even worse but then some good news comes her way towards the end.."The curious Sofa"  was my least favourite among all..

Overall the book is for an off-beat read which would treat you with a very different reading experience..The language is old school hence may not be that reader friendly, still it is worth a try..

The illustrations

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: The Captain's daughter by Alexander Pushkin

Title: The Captain's daughter
Author: Alexander Pushkin
Pages: 154
Genre: Historic fiction/ classic
Price: Rs 514
Source: Online
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Reading a classic is always a treat to mind and heart and the Russian classics are my favourite ..I have always been in awe of the beauty of its prose..

The captain's daughter is a historical novel set during Pughachev's rebellion in 18th century..At the early age of 17 the protagonist Pyotr Andreyich Grinyov is sent to military service in Orenburg by his father..Having lost way he is caught in an unknown atmosphere in a fix until rescued by a puzzling stranger..

At Orenburg, he is assigned to serve at the Fort Belogorsky under Captain Ivan Mironov, there he befriends Shvabrin a fellow officer..Love soon takes up the scene as Pyotr falls head over heels in love with Masha, The Captain's daughter.But the twist is when Shvabrin also has an eye on Masha who has turned his proposal down..The love triangle goes through several ups and down until the fortress is attacked by Yemelyan Pughachev who imposes himself as the murdered  Emperor Peter III...As Captain Mironov refuses for allegiance he is hanged while his wife is murdered..When it is the turn of Pyotr his life is spared as it is revealed that Pughachev to be the mystifying rescuer from the past..Though they develop a fond relationship Pyotr declines to serve Pughachev, by sheer sincerity he is let to go back to Orenburg.

The fort is left under Shvabrin who predictably takes advantage of the situation to force Masha to marry him..Pyotr ushers to stop the marriage only to be captured by Pughachev's troops..Pyotr explains the situation frees Masha and sets off to Captain's estate, en route they are blocked by army...Pyotr decides to stay back with the army while Masha continues her journey to her fathers's estate..The War continues fiercely resulting in Pughachev's death..Once again Pyotr is captured for having friendly relation with Pughachev and labelled as a traitor..During interrogation Shvabrin testifies against Pyotr and Pyotr doesn't defend himself for defending himself would bring Masha to court..Pyotr receives death penalty and once again luck favors him as his life is spared but remains a prisoner...More drama follows..Would masha ever come to know about Pyotr's plight or will they go on to live estranged till end ..Do read the wonderfully crafted Pushkin's work to know more..

Innocent Pyotr's character matched up with his honesty and sincerity above all his passion for life and love wins the reader's heart right  from the very beginning..His life is always tested with cruelty of war..Through the novella Pushkin makes an exhaustive depiction and personal researched analysis of the outbalance of Russian lives..The novella portrays the lives of different societal hierarchy their clashes and struggle for justice

The novella is classic in every term be it political criticism, romantic nobility, observation common life..All in all it was a captive read also in terms of language and style of writing...Though the end was bit dramatic I don't deny myself to be partial in liking it thoroughly...
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