Book Review: Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

12948Turn of the Screw by Henry James
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

I often embrace the notion of writing being superior than plot to the extent of salvaging a lackluster body of the latter, very close to my heart. And it is stories like these that realign my reading meter in that direction.

Henry James’ story has no flaws per se; instead, has a pollen bearing promise to turn into a full feather. A series of apparition that haunts the governess of a house, driving her to cast her net of suspicion across all the residents, primarily the children, makes for a premise worth pursuing towards an exciting journey. But its blooming is excruciatingly contricted amid the very many winding, endless sentences, almost binding the book like a curse. I am not troubled by such literary joints, especially when they coalesce to elevate the meaning to the surface, if not make it clear to the reader. But I found myself, repeatedly in the midst of verbose blah-blahs that did nothing to advance the story; worse, stalled the little progress it had already done in first few pages. Continue reading

Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (2017)

9780393609097_p0_v5_s192x300Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

[Originally appeared here]

Of all the fiction in this world, I find the ones rooted in mythology the most enticing; not because there is an element of otherworldly magic in them but because somewhere deep down, a bewitching veil of truth hovers above them. The characters we read of, the prowess we fall to, the betrayals we appal at and the spells we dive in, have all a debatable root which almost like our very own samudra manthan of the Hindu mythology, can be twisted this way or that. As most myths are made lesser of primary evidence and more of a secondary interpretation, there is a hidden little room of sorts from where you can see as far as you can, like Heimdall in this book. He is a kind of parallel to Mahabharata’s Sanjaya. Continue reading

Book Review: Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (1956)

38462Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

‘Those who love from a distance are not seduced by lust.’

Thus crooned a honeyed, longing voice I happened to hear two days back. Perhaps the essence was expressed before; in manifold arrangement of words, in wavy placement of multiple strings. But sometimes, something utterly simple, almost omnipresent, comes and strikes us somewhere with a profundity which all at once, makes it new, unparalleled, uncompressing in nature.

Giovanni comes as such a maddening gust of life. A gust, I say, because he doesn’t know restraint. He has never met the mild, is unaware of modesty. And when this rolling ball of enthusiasm chances upon David, the quintessential tranquil land of many secrets and desires, he gushes all over him like a pregnant cumulus cloud, bursting open at last. 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: 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

Book Review: We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler (2014)

16176440We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

In everyone’s life, there are people who stay and people who go and people who are taken against their will. 

Who do you remember the most? I asked myself. Those who make part of my primary circle of existence and have enriched my being with their presence? Or those who came and then departed for good, leaving an indelible mark on my life, as it looks today? Or those who, by all means that I could fathom, were supposed to be a part of my life but were disengaged from me with a menacing strike of destiny? I can’t say, honestly. Then I rearranged the words and popped the question to myself again. This time, the answer was clear.

The question: Who do I miss the most?  Continue reading

Book Review: Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera (2014)

book-signsprecedingendofworld-herrera-200Sign Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a little girl, I had many fears. Born from reasonable and not-so-reasonable wombs of circumstances, I consciously (and consistently) fought their penetrating presence by erecting walls of logic and fortitude. With passing years, I saw many of them surrendering and receding into thin smoke, leaving me a fertile air concomitant of a progressive upbringing.

But some fears continue to seethe within the subdued bark of emotions like its ashen cousin in an extinguished bonfire: time and again, an unexpected gush of reminiscent wind victimizes the tranquil symmetry and bares the fear to rise like a blinding demon of ineluctable anaesthetic might. Continue reading

Book Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937)

of-mice-and-menOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

It takes courage to stand up and speak. It also takes courage to sit down and listen.

These are the words on one of my most favorite posters. What always keeps me hooked to these lines is the validity of the trait, courage, from both ends of the spectrum. It holds good, irrespective of the side one stands at. Whether there is merit in holding on or giving in, is a matter of perspective which often remains stranded on the crossroads of past experiences and future expectations. And crossroads always bear the mark of confusion, don’t they? Continue reading

Book Review: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

4981Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kurt Vonnegut. Four syllables, once pronounced, suspends in the air like a rock star swishing his name into the air for chanters to latch on and treble the echo. Slaughter-House Five, god knows how many syllables (depending on stress-points of your tongue), once sprinkled from the nozzle of mouth, hangs again in the air like a vagabond wrapper not finding a parapet to land. Perhaps both could have gone their way and not bothered to float into my fairly tranquil world. But they chose to break the silence. So it goes.  Continue reading