Book Review: The Only Story by Julian Barnes (2018)

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The Only Story by Julian Barnes
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

“Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.”

This sentence, which introduced this most recent book of Julian Barnes to his potential readers, was pretty much my Achilles heel from Page 1. I don’t quite understand how you can adjust the levels of love, like making marks on a burette and letting the content drip as per your desire of colour and consistency of the final emotion. Quantifying love is beyond my comprehension.

And yet, there is a certain granular tenderness in this story of a young man and his (almost) thirty years senior lover that prevents this love story from turning into a chore. Continue reading

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Movie Review: Call Me By Your Name by Luca Guadagnino (2017)

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Call Me By Your Name | Directed by Luca Guadagnino | Starring Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I tried thrice – writing down my thoughts about this movie – and failed all three times. Every time I would begin scribbling, my fingers would come to a gradual stop, my throat would detect a considerable lump and my heart would turn an arid land over which sharp, silent currents of memory would whip a nostalgic dance. I would succumb to an unbearable pain, a sense of acute restlessness and loss that would haunt me for many hours hence.

I stopped writing about the movie.

But it wouldn’t leave me. Because it’s so devastatingly beautiful that it is inescapable. Continue reading

Book Review: Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman (2007)

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Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I finished reading the book late last night. As Elio bid a final goodbye to Oliver, I stood by him. The mist in his eyes and heart was in mine too. And I hovered my glance on his name and let the pool in my eyes fill a little more. And then, in a pained resignation, I closed my eyes.

It has been almost a day since I read the last word of this book. And yet, the moment I picked it up to review its contents a few minutes ago, my eyes began to cloud again. Because everything read and felt and wept for, yesterday, came gushing back and I once again massaged my aching vein to quieten and take this only to be a story. But is it? Continue reading

Book Review: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (2005)

 

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The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Words.

This book is all about words – words written, words unwritten, words spoken, words unspoken, words imagined, words deleted, words carried, words discarded, words believed, words treasured. And why wouldn’t it be? At the heart of this book, is the book ‘The History of Love’ and its author, and his many intended and unintended recipients.

Does that make the book complex? Oh no, no; it makes it magical. Magic, as I see, is a beautiful truth suddenly broken to us. And in Krauss’ tale, she does it many times over. Continue reading

Movie Review: The Shape of Water (2018) by Guillermo del Toro

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The Shape of Water | Directed by Guillermo del Toro | Starring Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

The night has dropped by. I have said hello. She has settled on my window sill. The moon is invisible from my meagre window. But I am drunk. A little. Or may be not. I mean not little drunk. Alexandre Desplat is melodiously here too, talking to me from my music speakers –

You’ll Never Know Just How Much I Miss You,
You’ll Never Know Just How Much I Care,

Yes, perhaps. No one in the world knows how far a person in love feels the pangs of longing and emotion inside her than the person herself. The bittersweet pain finds the deepest seat in the pit and refuses to leave. Being in love. Oh that all-encompassing, all-devastating feeling! In Desplat’s hymn, it simmers and bubbles and boils over within Elisa – the mute janitor in Guillermo del  Toro’s ‘The Shape of Water’. She falls for an amphibian man; a sea animal to the ordinary eyes, ‘the asset’ to the scientists and military honchos of America. But to her eyes? Oh to her eyes – he was like a sunshine on a cold morning, a fresh bloom in an abandoned garden, a rhapsody in a silent room, a shoulder in a lonely world. He, was life. Continue reading

Book Review: Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (2012)

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Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Forgetfulness was a gift, a talent to be nurtured.

In the war of remembering and forgetting, what side do we choose? Or do we choose at all? Isn’t life that, which happens when we are busy planning it? In the seductively opiated heavens of narrow-alleyed Bombay, a membrane-like life of a eunuch is stretched between her dreams and reality. The prima donna of a famed whore house, Dimple regales her customers with her melancholic eyes and business-like primness and efficiency. Wallowing silently in the memory of her departed lover, she wilfully insulates herself from her present state and instead falls back on books for sweet mental chaos. Come an unusually besotted patron one day and she switches her address in his favour. But does life change? Does the things worth remembering pile up and those worth forgetting, diminish? Continue reading

What I Talk About When I Talk About Murakami

It was a rainy evening about seven years ago when I entered a book store. It was the perfect refuge – warm lights, thin crowd, a tea bar and loads of books. I marched to the tea bar, ordered a ginger- mint tea, placed my bag on a chair in the seating area and hopped to the alleys to browse for books while the tea was being brewed. Running my eyes like a squirrel, I was surveying the titles one after another when they came to a halt – they spotted a pristine white cover with a circular swirl in blood red. That is it. If the cover art struck me as a bored painter’s good night splash, the name at the bottom of it left me thinking. THE ELEPHANT VANISHES. Err… Has the elephant vanished into red-white whirlpool? What kind of a book could this be? And then, my eyes fell on the name at top of the band of the cover. MURAKAMI. Continue reading

Best Reads of 2017 – Chennai SRRs speak

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So, I found a splendid group of bibliophiles during 2017 which brought a hemisphere of positive energy into my life. I wrote about them at length yesterday. And because we are readers, books always wafted over our discussions like saffron in the kahwa chai.

Now that a new year has walked in and we are looking at the various books we might read or gift or add to our collection, here is a compilation – the  top 5 reads of (some) SRRs in Chennai. Continue reading

An year when Books begot Friends! :)

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From the time I know, I have been in company of books. Beginning with casual strolls in my father’s library and running my tiny fingers over the book spines to sampling one on a fine afternoon and falling in love with its tribe, I have hardly ever left the book-country. With passing years came new dreams and ambitions, and to fuel them, different roles and responsibilities. I pursued them but without leaving sight of my books and their world. During rough patches, I succumbed to pale fire and let my reading take a backseat. But like a faithful, I always found my way back to it. This steadfast relationship meant that less (and less) time was getting allocated to friends and acquaintances, and with each passing year, getting distant from most of them. One day, about four years ago, I realized I have (almost) run out of friends.

Continue reading

Book Review: The Fox Was Ever The Hunter by Herta Müller (1992)

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The Fox Was Ever The Hunter by Herta Müller
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Imagine your heart is a sheet of paper and Müller’s words, the needle – and then, let the typewriter go berserk. Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang. The words hit you, one after another, and her ink doesn’t run dry. The angst, the rage, the lament, the despair takes on unstoppable force and goes pinging on your heart like a tireless hammer – only it is a needle and the prick seeps into your blood like it has found a home.  Continue reading