More on Books ’09

Posted: August 1, 2010 in books etc., books etc., Uncategorized

Continuing with the books…

Anjum Hassan’s Neti Neti was about Sophie, who I thought was a pretty passive character, who moves to Bangalore from Shillong to find a job and answers.  It covered stuff like her lukewarm relationship with her boyfriend and her longing for a man back in Shillong, her family that is falling apart, her friends, lack of passion for her work, her landlord, and other ‘bangalore’ things like BPOs, murders of passion and the get-quick-rich youth. It was a good read though I felt mostly negative aspects of life in Bangalore were highlighted maybe because it was seen from the eyes of a migrant.

In the Imperial Woman, Pearl S Buck has tried to paint the (fictional) life of the formidable Manchu empress Ci-Xi, who is constantly trying to outsmart her adversaries, escaping death and throwing her wrath on everyone who gets in her way to be the Imperial Woman.

A young man, Larry, throws away his future to understand life.  The people around him think he is a fool for throwing away the ‘regular’ life to roam the world in W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge.

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eyes was a disturbing yet beautiful story.  It is narrated by a young girl about another girl Pecola and the complexities that arise due to her dark ‘ugly’ skin. A girl of her age and family background is hardly in a place where she can understand or battle it. She wishes to be like the white girls with blue eyes as she thinks it is the answer to all her problems as they are always shown as the happy and loved ones. She eventually begins to think she really has blue eyes and it shields her from the insults and later the brutal rape she is subjected to.

Another disturbing story was William Myrone’s Sophie’s Choice about a Polish woman Sophie who survives Auschwitz and comes to America only to fall in love with a brilliant schizophrenic.  They cross paths with Stingo, a Southerner, and as she tells him her story racked with guilt, it shows how the horror that she experienced is a bruise that never heals but keeps rotting and spreading.

Tarun Tejpal’s Alchemy of Desire on the other hand was a love story that starts with desire and ends with love. There was a story within the story which I didn’t care for much. It was the writer’s relationship with his wife Fizz that was so delightful. The book begins as their relationship starts to fall apart and goes backwards to how they met.  There were so many observations by the protagonist about education, politics, office politics that resonated with my own beliefs.

Meenakshi Madhavan’s You are Here is supposed to be something like Plath’s The Bell Jar but it wasn’t that intense. It was good for a one time read. Kinda like a movie that is good but there is no need to watch it in a theater as soon as it opens. Can wait for the DVD.

Read somewhere that it apparently took Vikram Seth nearly 7 years to complete Sacred Games. It took me a month to finish reading it. While there is no doubt that is a good story that keeps you hooked it was way too Bollywood. Partition, underworld, showbiz, nukes….Surprised that it has not been made into a movie yet.

Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring was inspired by a painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. It is known as the Dutch Mona Lisa. The author tries to build a fictional story about the girl. The imagery used is exquisite.  It is not a book I would read again but it is a charming story.

I am not a big fan of short stories. Mridula Koshy’s If it is Sweet was a collection of short stories. I didn’t read them all. I didn’t ‘get’ some stories at all. Romancing the Khoodawala was touching and a collection of stories where Jeans was a common theme were interesting.

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nocturnes was again a collection of short stories. It was unexpected and full of quirky characters and plots and music. Nocturnes and Come Rain or Come Shine were my favourites.

Richard Bach’s The Bridge across Forever bored me.

I expected John Steinback’s Grapes of Wrath to depress me but the story was moving and powerful. What’s more it is supposed to have thrown light on the plight of the displaced people and actually helped them to some extent.

Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar was a wonderful book about a young woman who is supposed to have figured it all out until she starts questioning her identity and her desires, falls into depression and struggles to find her way back.


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