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: Autumn by Ali Smith (2016)

28446947Autumn 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

Book Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (2011)

51p2bjgqy-il-_sy344_bo1204203200_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

Book Review: Stoner by John Williams (1965)

51nu26thj-l-_sy344_bo1204203200_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

Book Review: Us by David Nicholls (2014)

21423525Us 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

Book Review: The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (1978)

41jpcevUGeLThe 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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, C S LEWIS!

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Lewis!

I always have a lot to ask you rather than tell you; you confuse me well after all! A life resembling a sine-curve sans the regularity has placed you in a certain pedestal in my world onto which my eyes are capable of seeing only a part; lot remains hidden. For I wonder; what exactly made you write The Screwtape Letters when you were a devout believer of the Lord? Was that a work for the world or more for yourself? Was your protagonist, the Devil, a manifestation of your dilemmas that kept you on the border of theism and atheism? After all, you had seen a lot. You were living in a time that was witnessing a transformation; and every change of such nature turns many long-held beliefs into much abhorred casualties. Continue reading

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE!

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Shakespeare!

Ah! It is your birthday, once again and an excuse for me to celebrate all that I have loved about your pen! The riches you have amassed over your lifetime make it almost unfair to other authors; I mean who can fill such huge boots? Not that the reader in me complains! I first read your work when I was a kid, 8 years perhaps? But I clearly remember the thrill that ran in my blood while reading King Lear. Experiencing that enmeshing of relationships to highlight various emotions driving life and gathering them all into a few pages of brilliant, dripping prose was scintillating! And since I shared a wonderful buddy-relationship with my father, the experience was heightened as I did a joint-reading with him. I read that work twice and I remember, discovering more meaning on my second reading. The book was a part of a thin collection of a few of your works (The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest and a few others) and by the time I finished them all, I was ready to relish more.  Continue reading

Book Review – The Waves by Virginia Woolf (1931)

The WavesMy 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