So yay, I’ve finally found a readalong that got me excited!
The really exciting thing is that Under the Dome is one of the few Stephen Kings novels I have not read. And it is huge, it has over a thousand pages. And it’s about a dome that suddenly covers a town and people have to survive and there are power clashes and probably lots of weird happenings. And I keep imagining it as the Simpson’s movie, except less yellow people. Does anybody know if the Simpson movie took its inspiration from this book?
Okay, I’m a little incoherent right now, but my weekend just got made.
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep
Phillip K Dick
Six Word Summary: Fuck robots. Kill robots. Empathise more
I Rate it: A-
The first thing that caught my attention was the name. Do androids dream of electric sheep? I don’t know. Do they? I would think they dream taking over the world and plugging us to virtual reality machines in some sticky transparent liquid, but what do I know. It is such a random thing to ask- do androids dream? Do they dream of sheep? Electric sheep?
Not random, I realized, well into the book and nodding sagely at Rick Deckard’s moral dilemmas. This book is literally about androids. It is literally about electric sheep. And in some ways, though not literally, it is about dreaming. Continue reading
I Rate it: A
Under the colors of our skins
We are each one
The same intolerance… and love
It is, apparently, the thing these days to be faintly embarrassed by Toni Morrison. She takes her writing too seriously, has no trace of humor in her writing, and doesn’t really care if the reader gets her or not. Her writing is very, very dense, and by that I don’t mean it is retarded, but that it packs more thoughts per sentence than many other books do per page. Difficult to read, difficult to keep up with, and nearly impossible to catch up with after a gap. Add to that the fact that she WILL insist on writing about uncomfortable things like oppression, power games, and child murder, and you begin to see why people tend to dismiss her as an Oprah hype.
Apart from being an Oprah fad, all of those allegations are true. Toni Morrison is goddamn difficult to read. But like most difficult things, her stories are worth the effort you put into them. Cunningly woven, each thread merging beautifully with another, so tightly knit that you couldn’t get a safety pin through, Morrison unfurls a tapestry of haunting beauty. Continue reading
I read a post today at the wildly hilarious blog Books are My Boyfriends, where the blogger, Kit, raises a question about how to compartmentalize a book like Gone With The Wind that is rampantly racist. Here is what she says:
GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell- I loved this book growing up and going back and reading the plot and characters and prose are top notch and also this book is REALLY racist and I’m trying to figure out a way to compartmentalize but I’m not sure I can. Because if there was a book that glamorized Nazis and made Jews in concentration camps Mammy and Prissy-like caricatures and it won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Picture and non-Jewish readers were like “Kit, you have to put this book in historical context” I would be like “I don’t live in historical context, I live now where it’s really fucked up to glamorize atrocities.” Does anyone else have strong feelings about this? I know I have strong feelings, I’m just trying to sort out what they all are.
Thanks so much for bringing this up, Kit, and I really hope you read my response. I do feel very strongly about racism. Gone With the Wind was quite one of my favorite books when I was in college, and I still really like it, but whenever I read it, I’m sort of aghast at the blatant prejudice, and wonder what African American readers feel about a book that depicts their ancestors as beings with subnormal intelligence, and suggest that white people actually did them a favor by keeping them as slaves because they are obviously like children (the book actually says this) and incapable of taking care of themselves. Continue reading
My Sister’s Keeper
I rate it: C+
A bag of spare parts?
The choice is yo….BAM!!!
Fellow readers, I am confused. Is it normal for a book to move me so much in places that it makes me cry, and also to bore me halfway to death in other places? I had heard so much about My Sister’s Keeper, and the summary I read on Goodreads was fascinating! Anna, a teenage girl who was conceived solely for the purpose of being a spare parts bank for her terminally ill sister rebels and decides she doesn’t want to give her kidney up. She loves her sister, but even more than that she hates the idea of living as an instrument, and to fight this, she takes her family to court for medical emancipation. Continue reading
How we met: Blogadda sent me a copy
Six word summary: Buffy learns tantrics scarier than vampires
I rate it: B-
If you have read this article, you are probably familiar with my disgust with recent Indian writers and the bilge they sell to us. So when I opened the packaging and found that Blogadda had sent me a book by an Indian writer, about a goddamn Indian vampire slayer, yes, I was dismayed. All the more dismayed because I couldn’t really wiggle out of it either. Blogadda has a reputation of setting fire on people who commit to review and then don’t. My husband completely failed to salvage the situation when he looked at the cover, and asked me, baffled, if this was magic realism.
Which goes to show a reviewer should never judge a book by its extremely campy looking cover. Or by the age and nationality of its author. Or by the fact that the byline actuallyhas the word ‘by’ in it, right on the cover. Tantra surprised me, it was funny, well-paced, tight, and actually well written. Not unflawed, and certainly not an enduring piece of fantasy literature, Tantra will, all the same, keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat, without getting on your nerves even a little. My abysmally low expectations could have helped in the beginning, but as the story unfolded, the characters, events, and timings were interesting enough to hook me. So yes, I learnt a lesson about not brushing all recent Indian books with the same brush.
The Secret History
Six Word Summary: Greek students kill two, feel bad
I rate it: C+
The short of it: A cozy, yet bleak story of human psychology, not too memorably told
I finished The Secret History two days ago, and while I was completely hooked for the three days it took me to read it, I find that there is not much I really have to say about the book. While the story is interesting, and the characters are well drawn, the book did not make me feel anything. And this is really strange, because I’m the sort of person who gets so involved in the characters of any book I am currently reading or have recently read, that I have conversations with them in public vehicles, and often it come to blows. And I do not mean that the book was written with a light touch, like Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending , which caressed you like soft waves and then melted away, leaving a sense of calm wonder and sorrow. The Secret History was written by talented writer who knows how to tell a story, certainly, but somewhere down the line she forgot to breathe life into this story or the people in it, which is very unfortunate, because the novel is people centric rather than event centric. Continue reading
“In a country that doesn’t discriminate between fame and infamy, the latter presents itself as plainly more achievable.”
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Six word summary: Demon teen, annoyed mom, mass murder
I rate it: B-
The Short of it: Eva Khatchadourian is the type of lady who should have listened to her instincts and opted out of motherhood while she had the chance. Instead, to counter the impending sameness of married life, and to ‘”have something to talk about”, she and her husband decide to bring a little person into this world. Sadly. said little person is a sociopath from the moment he plops out of his mother’s vagina. Little Kevin grows up to be a perfectly sweet little boy in the eyes of his father and the world, but his mother alone knows him for the hateful, sneaky, manipulative child that he actually is. That changes one Thursday morning, two days before Kevin’s 16th birthday, when he tricks a number of students and a teacher into his school gym, and slaughters them like fruits in Fruit Ninja. Continue reading
Thirteen Reasons Why
Six word summary: Angsty teen kills self, spews guilt
I Rate it: D
The short of it: Tedious , whiny, and downright ridiculous
This book has been hyped a great deal in the USA I believe, with teachers and counselors recommending it to students to help them counter the evil of teenage suicide. I’ve heard people gushing about it, calling it a sensitive portrayal of what a young girl goes through, and how it pushes her to end her life. Thirteen reasons, no less. Continue reading
Octavia E Butler
Six word summary: Meet ancestor. Save ancestor. Kill ancestor.
I rate it: B+
The short of it: An intriguing story of the human capacity to survive and love, told against the backdrop of slavery, in a racy thriller
Kindred has been labeled by Octavia Butler, the author, as science fiction, but I wouldn’t call it that, since there is no science to speak of. Rather, it is part black historical fiction, part thriller, part drama, part time travel, and part love story. While it didn’t shake me up like Beloved or some other novels by Toni Morrison, or get me as invested in the characters like Alex Hailey’s Roots, it managed to frighten me by pushing slavery right into the sphere of plausible horrible things that could happen to me. Continue reading
“Life went on, despite all the dying.”
The Hangman’s Daughter
Six word summary: Murdered orphans. Witch tortured. Illicit love.
I rate it: C+
The short of it: The hangman of Schongau, Jacob Kuisl, lives as an untouchable with his family, shunned like an impure person in spite of the essential nature of his work. But when the Lech River washes up a child stabbed to death and with mysterious tattoos on his back, the villagers’ suspicions immediately fall on the midwife, who is promptly accused of being a witch and dragged off to the gallows. Convinced of her innocence, the hangman, with the help of his daughter Magdalena, and Simon, the son of the local physician, must stop the village council from using her as a scapegoat by finding the real culprit. But the murders do not stop, and the trio must race against time to save the rest of the village children, as well as the maligned and tortured midwife. Continue reading
In celebration of Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s birthday on the 16th of December, I’ve been rereading some of his books, almost after a gap of eight years. Something that struck me is, apart from having been a downright brilliant storyteller, Sir Arthur had the ability to chisel out perfectly concise, crisp, witty, and yet profound quotes, and he tended to sprinkle them through his writings, for readers to discover and get ecstatic over. Here are a few of my favorite quotes by Sir Arthur C Clarke: Continue reading