The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Where do I begin unloading this colossal bag of thoughts that are raging in my mind since yesterday? Well, my friend, you seem to be the victim today. So be it. Don’t term me evil; it is just the scent of one, I lived with for the last five days.
Actually, this work is hardly anything except for a bunch of letters, from a senior to a junior; it is nothing more than a series of succinct correspondence, gathered cannily and disbursed even more astutely to the promising newbies. Now, have we all not rubbed shoulders with atleast once such genial senior in our lives? Incidentally, this exchange happens to be between Uncle Screwtape and Wormwood who, well, under a generous dignity granted by Lewis, call themselves “Tempters”; I refer to them as Devil (Spirit). And they are up against “Him”; the one who lives in the churches and to whom the world attributes its goodness and life. Continue reading
Chess Story by Stefan Zweig
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Wanting to play chess against yourself is a paradox, like jumping over your own shadow.”
But what fun is life if words like manic, insanity, paradox and contradiction are not put to test once in a while? Even at the cost of years of discipline and rationality?
Stefan Zweig surely put his own constructs up the wall when he created this ingenious piece of art. Yes, it was pure art; outright splendid form of art that overwhelms the realms of conventional thinking and forces the mind to stretch itself.
A World Chess Champion, heralded as one of the best ever to play the game, in his casual quest of pocketing a few dollars, enroute to a tournament, encounters a sudden change of fortune, when a remarkable twist of moves from a rather ordinary looking, albeit a tad hysterical, middle-aged man, hands him his first defeat in many years. Continue reading
Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.
Flipping through the pages, my heart leaped many times; those waves bearing the ring of countenance were from still stream but the ones with ripples of accusation roared thunder. Accusation? Accusation hurled towards whom? The fictional characters delicately brought to life by the stinging brush of the author or the guilty, manipulative, egocentric, conceited character of mine? Did my fingers pause typing these words defining myself? They did. And it also confirmed my worst fears: I am no angel and the pristine white enveloping me is a well-fabricated dwelling that I carry with temporary aplomb, aware somewhere deep inside that some of its bricks are turning cancerous by my vices. Continue reading
Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ever wondered if stark realities of life were humans, how would they converse? What would death reveal to Satan which may surprise agony? What may joy surmise on pain that might recall God’s support? What might greed and insanity bring to table worthy of discussion in peace’s eyes? Where would loyalty stand should all others be permitted to share the same house?
Flaubert embarks on a bold journey, by giving voice to these very boundless giants and drawing a territory around them by erecting three walls of formidable texture and strength, painted with magnanimous coats of deceptive prose and magnetic rhythm. Reverberating within their throes are three teeming groups of conversations – Continue reading
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A few years ago, I happened to have a chat with an old friend. We were catching up after a long time and like most friends do, we picked up our favorite teen (innocent) crimes to gorge on. One of our best memoirs was of those sprints we made to the nearby movie hall to grab the tickets of a show at the penultimate minute of the show time. And we were suddenly overcome by the desire to relive those days. Since I was visiting her city, I let her choose the movie hall and the movie. She quipped that a certain film festival was running at one of the city’s best multiplexes and we could sneak in a show there. We checked the showtimes on their website, chose a show of a well acclaimed, classic movie that was a mere 20 minutes from commencement and yes, sprinted.
Bonsaï by Alejandro Zambra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What does a resonating journal do? Arrest us in the powerful aura of words? Dispatch us to the comforting cocoon of our memories? Render a blanket of dignity to our failures? Exhort our fledgling dreams to a palpable fruition? Cast a succor net on our isolated struggles? Attest our timidity as a prelude to stronger days?
For me, it’s essentially about reading about a distant ‘me’, the identity of this ‘me’ to be an inhabitant of past corridors or a tenant of future roads being inconsequential. As long as I detect a shade of me in the journal’s evocation, I am obsessed to read till the last drop of ink has faded. And Zambra doesn’t do anything much, besides telling me a story about Julio, who could well be sitting across me in this cafe and reciting the content, verbatim. Continue reading