Book Review: The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares (1940)

94486The 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

Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang (2007)

51bdxkezzol-_sx325_bo1204203200_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

Book Review: A Personal Anthology by Jorge Luis Borges (1961)

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A Personal Anthology by Jorge Luis Borges

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

 

Borges and I

I:

Borges:

I:

Borges:

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)

Continue reading

Book Review: Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño (1996)

517abx9863l-_sy344_bo1204203200_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

Book Review: Blindness by José Saramago (1995)

51cfnhz5p7lBlindness 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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARCEL PROUST!

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It’s not a belated birthday wish. It’s a continuing one. Breathing in the Proustian air is one of my most favorite stress-busters since the time I have been introduced to it. An air so rich yet so clear, it permeates into my lungs with its slight, caressing bend, filling me with a sense of beauty that no amount of dark inhalation can pollute. Proust was special, even as a child. Which 14 year old would scribble such answers to a random, vanilla questionnaire after all? Even if I squeeze my most refined juices, I won’t be able to drench his intellect an inch. Continue reading

Remembering the Borgean Legerdemain

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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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RAFA!

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It doesn’t happen with everybody; rare is this phenomenon. That every time I come across your name, a surge of hope washes me over is unique to you, for me; for I have loved very few people which such reverence, even fewer, for this long. It is almost ten years since I first came across you, as a young challenger to the apple-of-everyone’s-eyes, Roger Federer when you stamped your arrival with a stupendous run at Roland Garros, your debut at the tourney. While the sports world went berserk, understandably so, you were a picture of incredibly-plain-but-certainly-not-commonplace equanimity. An element so earthy, so unreal, for a guy, all of 19, to handle all the attention of the world with such disarming humility and effusive charm. What, of course, bound me to you for the succeeding 10 years (and another 10 years hence too) was not your astounding haul of 14 Grand Slam titles, 28 Master Titles and innumerable other mind-boggling records but your consistency – Continue reading

Book Review: Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age by Bohumil Hrabal (1964)

41eqb2ban3nl-_sx310_bo1204203200_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

Book Review: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

4981Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kurt Vonnegut. Four syllables, once pronounced, suspends in the air like a rock star swishing his name into the air for chanters to latch on and treble the echo. Slaughter-House Five, god knows how many syllables (depending on stress-points of your tongue), once sprinkled from the nozzle of mouth, hangs again in the air like a vagabond wrapper not finding a parapet to land. Perhaps both could have gone their way and not bothered to float into my fairly tranquil world. But they chose to break the silence. So it goes.  Continue reading