Invisible 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
The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Insane. Insane. Again. Insane.
“Then I resumed my efforts, moving to other parts of the wall. Chips fell, and, when large pieces of the wall began to come down, I kept on pounding, bleary-eyed, with an urgency that was far greater than the size of the iron bar, until the resistance of the wall (which seemed unaffected by the force of my repeated pounding) pushed me to the floor, frantic and exhausted. First I saw, then I touched, the pieces of masonry— they were smooth on one side, harsh, earthy on the other: then, in a vision so lucid it seemed ephemeral and supernatural, my eyes saw the blue continuity of the tile, the undamaged and whole wall, the closed room.”
‘Reasoned Imagination’ – That is how Borges describes this mind-boggling attempt of Adolfo Bioy Casares, in what, that my humble mind can ascertain, is a superlative member of post-modernist, abstract fiction canon. Continue reading
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
[Originally appeared here (with edits)]
Many of us, if stretch a little, can recall the question that appeared in our science textbooks in primary schools: choose the living and non-living thing from the following options. While we conveniently tagged all humans, animals and plants to the ‘living’ side, everything else chugged to the ‘non living’ side. But did the divide stand the test of time?
Han Kang pushes this very divide to scintillating heights, reducing the line into a mere fissure, facilitating travel from one living form to another. So, we meet a young Yeong-hye in South Korea, a compliant wife in a patriarchal society, suddenly renouncing meat at the behest of a curious dream. Continue reading
A Personal Anthology by Jorge Luis Borges
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Borges and I
I: Do you like silence?
Borges: What silence?
I: The one you are filling up this space with right now?
Borges: This, is my ground. Contemplation, not Silence, my weapon. Thought, my battle.
I: A battle you are at advantage to withdraw from any time?
Borges (with a pre-emptive look): Is that so? Help me then, young lady.
I: Help you? With what?
Borges: With withdrawing from this battle.
I: Well, you are the originator. You should be the one to end it.
Borges (at once, hysterical): Oh I wish I was! How I wish I was! (settles back into sombreness)
Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Somewhere in the midst of this book, Bolaño spells out in explicit words what I suspected to be the undercurrents from the word go:
….a novel about order and disorder, justice and injustice, God and the Void.
So there I was – witnessing a swashbuckling cavalcade of ideas, overflowing from the chariot of Bolaño’s mind; irreducible owing to their weight, hypnotic owing to their flight.
My first Bolaño could not have been a better book. 30 essays written as biographies of fictitious authors, who lived under the tremulous skies of Nazism and dabbled in poetry and science fiction, magical realism and political sagas, span the length and breadth of the written word; presenting an inclusive, although explosive, picture of Bolaño’s thoughts that bodes well with establishing acquaintance with his ideologies too, perhaps. Continue reading
Blindness by José Saramago
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.
What an irony that a book which holds, loss, filth, loot, stomp, cruelty, disorientation, putrefaction, injustice, helplessness, murder, rape, misery, nakedness, abandonment, death and unimaginable suffering in its bosom, left me with a climactic emotion of beauty, overwhelming beauty. Beauty of what you ask? That of resilience, that of courage, that of insurmountable human spirit which perhaps hits its zenith when it is brutally pinned to the bottommost pit.
Blindness has a chilling plot – a city where people start going blind, without a warning or faintest history. Continue reading
It’s a bit premature that I am releasing an opinion from my thought cannon on Jorge Luis Borges. After all, I am in the midst of reading only my first Borges. But it appears that I am well acquainted with him. How do I say? Like how it doesn’t matter how long but how much we spend on a person that shapes our opinions about them. With Borges, few minutes are enough.
Documents say today is his death anniversary. But I am sure he is around; much like his declaration: Continue reading
Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age by Bohumil Hrabal
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
This little novella can, at once, be discarded as a long, never-ending chapter on corporeal pursuits from the life book of a mindless rambler, a libidinous exhorter, a senile raconteur. And for some part, one might be right in doing so. If disaster has struck you due to your prolonged exposure to the skin junk processed and reprocessed on electronic and print media, you might not be cajoled to hold back even for a second from trashing this, their way. Continue reading