Book Review: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (2018)

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Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

 

When the weapon inflicting a wound is done with its work, it hops onto to its next victim with a repugnant nonchalance. It doesn’t look back, it has barely any emotion. But it does not do the disappearing act before leaving behind the story of the ‘scar’ – the scar hidden inside the wound. And the thing about scars is that they are permanent, or nearly so.

Nathaniel was unfortunate to receive one such scar early on in his life, in 1945, when he was 14-years old to be precise. Continue reading

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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

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

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

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

Book Review: In Custody by Anita Desai (2007)

In Custody by Anita Desai
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

‘The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

It is befitting to quote Rumi to introduce the middle-aged protagonist of this book who sends swirls of a bruised dream into the air even while chugging along life with a rusted body. Deven, a teacher in the small town of Mirpore, finds his humdrum walk thrown off guard when his college buddy, Murad, a cunning fox and an accidental two-penny publisher, flummoxes him into interviewing Nur, a legendary poet of yesteryear and Deven’s idol in youth. Overwhelmed by the awarding of a chance so rare and fulfilling, his fan-heart heaves wild beats, that eventually begins sending tremors of discord and dislocation across his family, friends, circle and beyond.

His life suddenly becomes a series of road trips between Mirpore and Delhi, each carrying memories that ricochets off his present like belongings of irretrievable past.  Continue reading

Book Review: Nutshell by Ian McEwan (2016)

Nutshell by Ian McEwan
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

[Originally appeared here (with edits): http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/li…]

 

Pessimism is too easy, even delicious, the badge and plume of intellectuals everywhere. It absolves the thinking classes of solutions.

This wonderfully sapient insight springs somewhere in the middle of this book and almost gives away the rationale behind McEwan’s choice of protagonist – a fetus.

Yes, this 200-odd pages of scheming a murder is seen through the eyes of a fetus from the womb of his mother, a party to the hatching game. The other party is her lover, who is also incidentally her husband’s brother. They huddle together in the former’s house, conspiring to kill the husband. Sounds familiar? Continue reading