Book Review: Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño (1996)

517abx9863l-_sy344_bo1204203200_Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño                                          My Rating: 4 of 5 stars 

Somewhere in the midst of this book, Bolaño spells out in explicit words what I suspected to be the undercurrents from the word go:

….a novel about order and disorder, justice and injustice, God and the Void.

So there I was – witnessing a swashbuckling cavalcade of ideas, overflowing from the chariot of Bolaño’s mind; irreducible owing to their weight, hypnotic owing to their flight.

My first Bolaño could not have been a better book. 30 essays written as biographies of fictitious authors, who lived under the tremulous skies of Nazism and dabbled in poetry and science fiction, magical realism and political sagas, span the length and breadth of the written word; presenting an inclusive, although explosive, picture of Bolaño’s thoughts that bodes well with establishing acquaintance with his ideologies too, perhaps. Continue reading

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (2016)

41jfvzl72yl-_sx336_bo1204203200_When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi                                                             My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

[Originally appeared here (with edits)]

It has been a few days since I turned the last page of this book. But the numbness reappears the instant I allow the pages to unfold in my memory. The silence which suddenly parts to let these memories seep in and cloud my vision, fills the air. Even as I grapple to make ‘sense’ of what it means to lose a dear, dear one, I, ironically, already know that very‘sense’ to be ephemeral. No part of my being accepts death; they all adjust the lens to view it as a part of life.

Paul was a neurosurgeon by profession, and passion, at Stanford University School of Medicine. Standing at the threshold of seeing his dream come true, one built on a decade and half of relentless academic pursuits and tireless hours at residency, he witnesses a cruel twist of destiny; he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, just months before his scheduled graduation. Continue reading

Book Review: Blindness by José Saramago (1995)

51cfnhz5p7lBlindness by José Saramago
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

What an irony that a book which holds, loss, filth, loot, stomp, cruelty, disorientation, putrefaction, injustice, helplessness, murder, rape, misery, nakedness, abandonment, death and unimaginable suffering in its bosom, left me with a climactic emotion of beauty, overwhelming beauty. Beauty of what you ask? That of resilience, that of courage, that of insurmountable human spirit which perhaps hits its zenith when it is brutally pinned to the bottommost pit.

Blindness has a chilling plot – a city where people start going blind, without a warning or faintest history. Continue reading

The All-Season Antidote

It is Diwali. Or Diwali eve. Or Diwali weekend. And I am, all at once, in a pensive, nostalgic mood. Some happy occasions trigger memories that assume an ominous cloak of beauty and transform everything around them into a messenger of times bygone.

Last year, my mamma was with me, here, celebrating. This year, she is a little far. And while I expected a certain cloud of sadness to descend upon me at this thought, the air is clear. I do not feel sad, down or melancholic. Instead, I look forward to meeting her soon. May be in a month? Or on new year’s eve? Or even sooner? Ah yes, that little flame of hope keeps my spirits from flagging; oh it keeps them fanning instead! 🙂

This festival is, in many ways, a harbinger of hope. Continue reading

Book Review: Here by Wislawa Szymborska (2009)

7929177 Here by Wislawa Szymborska
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

“She wants me to live only for her and with her. Ideally in a dark, locked room, but my plans still feature today’s sun, clouds in progress, ongoing roads.”

With this singular clarity, Wislawa Szymborska views memory. By running a casual yet assertive hand, she makes the memory cursive; memory that is stitched into seamless minute knots connecting the present, illuminating the present.

Here is a solace, a silent hurrah. Written in small, fresh bud-like paragraphs, this collection of poems comes with the agenda of a butterfly – fragile at first sight, intriguing at second sight, rejuvenating at third sight and unforgettable after its flight.

Since her love for art found life and prosperity under difficult, turbulent times, her perspective emerged as a rough-cut diamond. Continue reading

Book Review: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952)

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The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

“He was full of resolution but he had little hope.”

And often, like a seductive oasis, this little hope beguiles the heart to endure battles of gargantuan magnitude, letting seep every second the realization of the effort turning as much futile as it may be fruitful.

Fisherman Santiago lives in a barren land, bearing just a few hope saplings, which he patiently waits to bear fruit. He is frugal and easily happy, but his simpleton living has not tamed his aspirations, lofty by his standards. He wants to catch a BIG fish, something so commanding and magnificent that it can seal his tenacity and authority, among his community, his friends and above all, his doubting self. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Ernest Hemingway!

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Hemingway!

This man is such a delight to read. Despite his topsy-turvy life, both as a civilian and an author, he went on to gather such wealth of life pearls that reading just a single interview of his’ opens new vistas of perception for me. He faltered much in his journey; fame dancing like a fleeting cloud on his skies. But he sustained the weathers and drew his umbrella without ado.

His writing is passionate and blunt, just how a prisoner allowed to take intermittent walks in free air, might talk.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Continue reading

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARCEL PROUST!

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It’s not a belated birthday wish. It’s a continuing one. Breathing in the Proustian air is one of my most favorite stress-busters since the time I have been introduced to it. An air so rich yet so clear, it permeates into my lungs with its slight, caressing bend, filling me with a sense of beauty that no amount of dark inhalation can pollute. Proust was special, even as a child. Which 14 year old would scribble such answers to a random, vanilla questionnaire after all? Even if I squeeze my most refined juices, I won’t be able to drench his intellect an inch. Continue reading

Borges and $: The Parable of the Literary Master and the Coin

What a fine peek into a genius’ mind, proving yet again…. everything beautiful is imperfect.

Longreads

Elizabeth Hyde Stevens | Longreads | June 2016 | 31 minutes (7,830 words)

Nothing is less material than money. . . . Money is abstract, I repeated, money is future time. It can be an evening in the suburbs, it can be the music of Brahms, it can be maps, it can be chess, it can be coffee, it can be the words of Epictetus teaching us to despise gold. Money is a Proteus more versatile than the one on the island of Pharos.

—Jorge Luis Borges, “The Zahir”

I fell in love with Jorge Luis Borges when I was a freshman in college. That year, full of hope and confusion, I left my hometown for the manicured quads of Brown University, desperately seeking culture—art, beauty, and meaning beyond the empty narrative of wealth building that consumes our world. It is easy to look back and see why Borges spoke…

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