Turn 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
Autumn by Ali Smith
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
[Originally appeared here.]
She has done it in the past; and she does it again here. Ali Smith’s fixation on, and a visible mastery of, story-telling across timeline, in no particular order, shines in this experimental, breezy novel as well.
Centred around the 30-something Elisabeth Demand and her centenarian friend, Daniel Gluck, Autumn is a long, vibrant, occasionally melancholic, sometimes acerbic but entirely warming season of their friendship. Elisabeth, with a ‘s’, is a history of art professor, whose interest was originally kindled in the subject she currently teaches, by the liberal hours she had spent with Daniel, her then-babysitter. As a genial neighbour to Elisabeth’s busy mother, he had agreed to be her caretaker, and in turn, had relished the artistic discourse with the little Ms. Demand. Fast forward a good twenty plus years and Daniel is now a patient in a day care, under the constant vigil of nurses and in wait of, perhaps, the same palliative cacophony of Elisabeth’s inquisitive murmur. Continue reading
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was sitting on the lower berth; ambivalent yet observant. The view from my window seat was appealing. On the parallel track, a train had just pulled on. The neighboring compartment was a dynamic collage of people, suitcases, trolleys, food and jubilant chatter. There were two stocky boys, fighting for the window seat. And there was a mamma who would rather put her baby to sleep. The grouchy father stooped onto his newspaper and the two girls in the adjacent berth were…….BLUR. The train gave a swift jerk, collapsing the collage into a blur. It was gone in seconds. I was still waiting for my train to start. After getting a clear signal, another train leveled up to my side. Intrigued, I looked across the window again. Continue reading
Stoner by John Williams
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
As a child, I had a thing for inanimate things. A sling, a pond, a pebble, a mica chip; they would catch my attention and hold it hostage. I would play for hours together with these silent, placid beings, drawing great solace from their harmless, non-fluctuating colour, and intention. Occasionally, a friend or two would drop in and ask in mock incredulity, ‘Don’t you ever get tired playing with them? They neither move nor speak.’ I wouldn’t answer. Only under my breath, after their departure, would pass a smile of assurance and utter, ‘They do.’ Continue reading
Us by David Nicholls
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Falling in love is a beautiful thing, more so when the love comes surreptitiously at your door which had opened many a times in past to find only empty autumns of loneliness and futile rains of solitude. Into such a heart, when love steps in, the heart does not remain the same, ever. Finding your reflection in another being becomes a hypnotic revelation,empowering you at once, to ironically, surrender your many identities to live in the nurturing shadow of your beloved. You accept sans hesitation, you relinquish without regret, you pursue without fatigue and you transform without ado. And when this spring continues to brighten your heart for seasons together, you lose track of the weather outside. You care no longer to check the forecast of the world beyond yourself, which still bears the unpredictability of floating emotional clouds. Being in love feels almost like a trance that you hope would never run out of steam.
But what if it does? Continue reading
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
On an unusually upbeat evening, I was winding up from work. The recently bought, crisp, intense 300-pages long fictional drama, that I had left, tantalizingly, at the 273rd page the previous night, was softly tip-toeing in front of my eyes. The unread pages were already floating invitingly in the evening breeze and I could not wait to reach home for resuming the date. When I was just stepping into the lift, I received a call from a friend, a bibliophile in fact. ‘Hey! Do you know they are closing down L_____ ?! Can’t believe it man! I am .…….’
I was not listening. No more. The words that reverberated, at first, in concentric circles and then, suspended frozen, were‘closing down’. That place; so many books, so many friends, so many chuckles, so many revelations, so many years, so many memories….. so much, no more. The floating pages dropped dead, the tantalization turned grievous and the upbeat became deadbeat in an instant.
For many of us, a bookshop is the second home; for some, the first. Continue reading
My Rating: 5 of 5 || My Review on Goodreads || More About The Book || Author’s Website
Hi. || Hi. || Is it you? || Yes, I am. || You look different. || Should I have been same? || Mmm… I don’t know. But you have my color. || In setting auburn, yes. || But it still looks content on your skin; that color – like a sheet of fine, wet porcelain covering a tired, antique statue. || And you look dazed, as if an army of nebulous thoughts have held you captive. || Is it so evident? || Yes. || I met a few people – Bernard, Susan, Louis… || …Jinny, Neville and Rhoda. I know. || Do you remember them? || They never left me. || Even after so many years? || Time has shuffled what was detached from me; what was within me, was always out of its reach. || So it all begun from where I stand. Continue reading