Book Review: Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda (1924)

41iokieyzpl-_sx310_bo1204203200_Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Tempting as it may appear to wrap the poetic pearls from this collection of Neruda’s heartbeats into a warm shawl of erotic wool, do resist it and pause.

These loquacious verses that assemble at the nape of a lover or ripple playfully across the soft mountains of a beloved’s waist, magnify when viewed through the dual lenses of night and water .

I have said that you sang in the wind
like pines and like masts.
Like them you are tall and taciturn,
and you are sad, all at once, like a voyage.

You gather things to you like an old road.
You are peopled with echoes and nostalgic voices.
I awoke and at times birds fled and migrated
that had been sleeping in your soul.
Continue reading

Book Review: This House of Clay and Water by Faiqa Mansab (2017)

THIS House of Clay and WaterThis House of Clay and Water by Faiqa Mansab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Forbidden Love – A diktat in itself, unleashed on unsuspecting hearts like an ouroboros where forbidden swallows love and yet appears whole, showing no signs of damage. No one knows the pain except the latter that is now usurped by the former. But it is when the opposite happens, that the tale transcends its meagre form and turns one for the generations.

Nida comes from a sophisticated family of high-ranking politicians and is married too, to one from this fraternity, but none of that sophistication and power has healed her wounds inflicted by her little daughter’s death.

Life is exacting and cruel. Death is calm oblivion. Life betrays everyone while death, without fail, always finds us.

Continue reading

Book Review: Ignorance by Milan Kundera (2000)

41gljwkfwil-_sy344_bo1204203200_Ignorance by Milan Kundera
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

“The more vast the amount of time we’ve left behind us, the more irresistible is the voice calling us to return to it.”

In this poignant recount of two people, forced to bid goodbye to their native country, in the diminished, yet flickering hope of finding a brighter tomorrow in an alien land, almost 20 years ago from the present, unravels a story replete with more questions than answers. Irena and Josef have found comfortable refuge in their respective abodes at Paris and Copenhagen and have led a fairly decent life, battling through tags of émigrés and periods of insuperable doubts. Irena has outlived her husband, Martin, reared her two daughters dutifully and seems comfortably living her life with her partner, Gustaf , many years her senior. Josef, after leading a few years of blissful matrimony with his Danish wife, had to surrender her to death which clutched the hands of a severe disease to bring down the curtains. 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: 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: 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: 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 Complete Short Stories of Marcel Proust by Marcel Proust (2001)

51P-jDkx97L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Complete Short Stories of Marcel Proust by Marcel Proust
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Mezzanine.
That is where my soul lies right now.
Elevated, with the soft avalanche of rippling visions,
erupting from the nubile eyes of a young Proust, from a lowly level that
seethed with diminished dignity and blackened clarity
to a mezzanine level, worthy of a corner seat
in a giant hall of evolved consciousness.

Analysing discarded memories from the forgotten boxes,
left lying beneath unpleasant mounds of soiled fates and muddy losses,
had seldom turned so aromatic an episode, so imminent an occurrence.
Like a foreigner, unknowingly leaving his secret trail in a new land,
Proust suspends slings from the trees of solitude and
provides levers for the uneven roads of melancholy
for the subsequent travellers to embrace,
a road that is guiding rather than deflecting. Continue reading

Book Review: Love In The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1985)

love_in_the_time_of_choleraLove In The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

When glistening drops of dew swivelled across the leaves,
When hazy films of sun lifted their candid veils;
When morning spring walked the aisle of the autumn road,
I saw a face whose reflection, since years, I have behold.

In envious vanity, she swayed her hair,
In rapturous youth, she erred everywhere;
But stoic her nod was to my pure passion
Which sent me blazing waves of heartburn.

Running behind her, became my moral;
Worshipping her being, was a religion;
In those auburn eyes, my heart would lie still
And yet it would flutter, like about to begin. Continue reading