Wednesday, April 18, 2007


It's been raining incessantly here and I don't know about you, but rain always makes me mushy, sad, nostalgic, happy, silent and whole...all at the same time. Which is ofcourse why I write poems on incompleteness :)

Little slips of paper
Floating wisps
Of life;
A bridge across never
for you & me

Black & brown eyes,
Deep, dark wells
Of emptiness;
A streak of light
across every scar.

Liquid Sunshine Showers
Downpour of lies,
Excuses and shackles;
Silent whispers
Of a parched life.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

From the dust-laden shelves

Ever since it was destined that I should spend 1.5 hrs in the train, I've been reading. Nonstop.
There's nothing that a whiff of the pages of a book won't set right, esp if the book is 'Shantaram' or 'Pride & Prejudice' :)

Reading Lolita in Teheran – Azar Nafisi

A beautiful book of memoirs. Freedom is not free and not all revolutions bring about a welcome social change. With the Iran Revolution as its backdrop, this book brings to light the quality of life under the new regime. And she does that simply by discussing books – or the length to which one has to go just to read a good book. I loved the memoir because it made me feel as if I was part of her clandestine book group, reading those banned novels and trying to form my opinions on morality and like.

This one definitely needs to be re-read as I had not read most of the authors she talked about. I just finished ‘Washington Square’ by Henry James and I need to read the others from the class before I pick it up again.

The StoryTeller’s Daughter – Saira Shah

‘Twas the season of memoirs and this is a pretty neat book on how Afghanistan just disintegrated. The fact that no one really knew what was happening inside and how the rest of the world didn’t really care is well brought out in this book. I like Saira’s narrative, her longing for that homeland which coloured every story her father told her, her reluctance to accept that the Afghanistan of her stories didn’t exist and the brutal reality of what is now Afghanistan.

American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood – Marie Arana

This is my favourite memoir of the lot, maybe because it didn’t deal with so much futility as the other two did. It is a happy memoir and Marie’s refreshing style of narration made it all the more interesting.

Cellophane – Marie Arana

This is a hilarious novel by Marie Arana. Her style is like this breath of fresh air on a hot humid day and you just don’t want to put the book down lest something interesting happens while you’ve been away. You are one with her characters; you live in the hacienda with Don Victor, you float over Amazon when he does and when the characters fall in love, so do you! Pick it up, you will not regret it.

Sleeping with The Devil – Robert Baer

If you are someone who loves political intrigue and if you liked the movie ‘Syriana’ then you must read this book. When I finished the book my only thought was, “Man! America is the only nation to blame for most of the evils that plague us now”. Now I need to pick up his other book, ‘See no Evil’.

Washington Square – Henry James

Brilliant prose. Excellent characterization. This is the first novel of his that I read and I definitely like his style. Of course, the nice thing about reading in the train is striking conversations with random strangers. This woman who sat next to me proceeded to talk animatedly about the movie based on this novel and how much she liked it. Like I said before, I need to re-read Azar Nafisi’s book to check if my interpretations match with any of hers.

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

This is a nice book. I mean, I liked it upto a point but then somewhere towards the end I got detached from Pi Patel. I liked his metaphors a lot and his descriptive narrative was quite good. And I totally loved Richard Parker, I don’t know why. But all that philosophy towards the final chapters put me off [I agree the philosophy strain is there throughout the novel, but in the end it got my goat]. This was one of the few books The Mr and I had in common, so after a long time was able to discuss/debate about a book with someone.

Since Wiki talks of a plagiarism controversy, I am searching for the English translation of Scliar’s book.

Love, Pain, and The Whole Damn Thing – Doris Dorrie

This is a collection of 4 short stories by the German filmmaker; stories with a quirky sense of dark humour. You should give this book a shot. I am trying to get hold of her movie.

Brief Encounters with Che Guevara – Ben Fountain

This book is a collection of short stories set in countries in the midst of a social upheaval/civil unrest and has nothing to do with Che Guevara. Except maybe one story about a person who knew someone who was a lover of Che. Interesting setting for stories and that seems to be the undoing of this book, at least for me. I didn’t like all the stories and I didn’t complete a few because the ‘story just didn’t move’. Guess one needs to be in an Utopian frame of mind for this one. You can read it once.

Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri

I absolutely love this book. There's a beauty to the way she introduces the characters and leads us through their stories. Every story is just a snippet of their lives and makes one long to know more. I tried to read 'The Namesake' but the same narrative that i liked in this book didn't click in the other. Or I was reading too many Lahiris in one shot it made me withdraw from Namesake. Maybe another day.

Undomestic Goddess - Sophie Kinsella

A li'l mediocre compared to the Shopaholic series. It has its moments but they are few and far in between. Yet, it is the quintessential chick-lit to balance some heavy reading, so I won't complain much :)

In between all these, I also managed to re-read Potter 5 & 6 for the Nth time, Malgudi Days and few more chick-lit that are better forgotten :)

If you do pick up any of the book I've talked about, do please ping me for a discussion. Muchas Gracias!

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