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

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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 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: 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

Book Review: Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (1972)

236219Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

You landed in my world on a calm, dewy evening
And struck was I with a song I was about to sing;
A song that lay hidden in the silhouettes of each letter
That protruded from the cover, all poised to embitter.

But waited I, patiently, under the light of the mundane day;
You see, Mr. Calvino, I had a knack of seeing your way.
Fusing the curious with the depth, and peppering them with some humor too;
All too often, you had served, a world that was both fictional and true.

So, on a fine evening, when all your cities rose, at once, to a noisy chatter,
I exited my world and entered yours, as it was now, an urgent matter. Continue reading

Book Review: A Heart So White by Javier Marías (1992)

heart-so-whiteA Heart So White by Javier Marías
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

What do I wish to hear? About the present? The past, may be? Or a little tune on the waiting future? Do I wish to eavesdrop on my best friend to find out what she thinks of me when I am not around? Am I tempted to open a letter addressed to my partner with no overt allusion to my name or salutation on the envelope? Am I inclined to return to an unknown place just so I can hear a random conversation complete in my mind? Do I wish to pause a few seconds longer at the traffic so I can hear the banter in the adjacent car? Am I willing to take that pain? Am I willing to take that time? Am I willing to listen?

Javier Marías’ tale is the silence that bids its time between two words, it is the unscrupulous clock that ticks for one and cheats another, it is the nebulous doubt that lies suspended between the free and the bound. 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: Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (1912)

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My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

As long as we breathe, we live. We do not possess the power to embrace death at will. So, we live. And for living, we cling to a purpose. The purpose may be clear or clouded, animate or inanimate, expressed or hidden, stable or fickle but we have it nonetheless. Even the person accused of leading a purposeless life is surviving on the shredded purpose of vagrancy.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that even Gustav Aschenbach, notwithstanding the fame and dignity safely held in his bag of accolades, gropes for purpose in his new found state of ripe mind. Nothing is a bigger curse for a writer than to have hit a plateau from where all the previous works appear a distant dream and the present air leaves nothing for the fertile imagination to latch on. Continue reading

Book Review – The Sea by John Banville (2005)

The Sea_Banville My Rating: 5 of 5  ||  My Review on Goodreads  ||  More About The Book  ||  About The Author

The silence about me was heavy as the sea.

Sitting by the sea, I am trying hard to evade the embrace of camphoric memories that hover schemingly, stroked by the amorous waves. Often this colossal sapphire vial of solitude, seduced by a flicker of cuprous sky or a kiss of the timorous breeze, changes colour and instead of heaping balms of comfort, loathes me with a vision so sharp that a part of me detaches with a vile force and travels into the dense, supine but thorny gardens of bygone land. And then begins a passionate journey between these two warriors who might belong to the same clan but having grown under two vastly different masters, have acquired their traits – past and present do not let any pupil off easily.
Continue reading

Book Review – The Autumn Of The Patriarch by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez (1975)

the-autumn-of-the-patriarchMy Rating: 4 of 5 ||  My Review on Goodreads  ||  More About The Book  ||  About The Author

They walk under its shadow. And it feels forever. They breathe their warm heart out under its all-pervasive blanket for so many countless instants (sometimes their entire lives) that the line drawing its glistening touch and blistering wrath becomes blurred.

Ask the earth that curled under its downpour, seek the fauna that lies huddled in apprehensive terror, summon the pebbles that were no match to its stony shower, shuffle the air that still carries its haughty scent in its chest, question the sun that drowned beneath its sultry curtain, sample the flowers that hold its diaphanous kiss on their bodies Continue reading