Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This Week In Books - 07th May

This is technically last week's post but I'm bending some boundaries here and posting a late-last-week, mid-this-week update. Maybe I've been time travelling and have lost my grip on the here and the now. Keep guessing! Here's the fare...let me know how I fared. (See what I did there? Bwahaha)

1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Publication: Bloomsbury
Pages: 324
First published: 2003

I finished this book as promised. Another moving, gripping read from Hosseini that details the spoils of the wars in Afghanistan, if I may describe it thus. Hosseini tends to employ the drama tactic to deliver his stories and I felt they kind of did a backfire on him in this book because they came across as a little too forced/contrived at times. He didn't have to quite literally point out certain cause and effects or hint openly at a karmic or character conclusion for a touch of showmanship. I'm glad I read his second book first (A Thousand Splendid Suns) because the narrative in that one was more rounded and gut-wrenching that this one. 

The plot has many gaping holes, a few convenient elements and conclusions but it is once again a peep into the dark quite recent history that runs through Hosseini's home country and that is never a joke, no matter how you commercialize it. Give this one a shot if you'd like to know the background behind those far-away names you heard on the news now and then.

Moving on...

2. How It All Began by Penelope Lively
Publication: Viking Adult
Pages: 240
First published: 2011

This one was on my TBR list for quite some time and I finally decided to get to it. It is loosely based on the chaos theory, how some small incident can trigger changes in many lives completely at random, or otherwise. The story sort of begins off with such a random incident but after that it dives head along into the lives of the characters it deals with so chaos is free to retire. I didn't quite get the need to lay stress on this incident that kicks off the book, as opposed to causing a domino effect. I'm still reading this one so maybe fate turns up later too. We'll see.

So far the characters have been okay, none of them have left a lasting impression on me save for Anton and his English lessons. Everyone else comes off either as too detached and bent upon screwing their lives or too obsessed with being illogical. The narrative tries too hard to make a point and its gotten a little boring right now. Hopefully, I can chug through to the end. Fingers crossed.

3. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Publication: Riverhead
Pages: 308
First published: 2014

Ah this book. This is one of those refreshing reads that turn up just when you need them. My list has been quite heavy and dragging for the past couple of weeks and this is a welcome break.

Boy, Snow, Bird is the story of a girl named Boy (Bingo!), who runs away from her abusive father. How her life unfolds from that point onwards is the plot. The narrative, the language and the wit are delicious! Boy is a teenager when the book opens and you expect her to be dodgy and whiny but she becomes intriguing instead with a detached air that draws you in. When she runs away she is twenty and a bit of a drawl, she is one of those goth-characters who can either be super-mysterious or super-annoying, but Oyeyemi toys the line with such panache and control you keep reading on. Its a thrilling read with an ominous tone and I am loving it. Can't wait to read what happens next. 

Will keep ya posted. I'm doing this as a buddy read for May with Emily on Goodreads.

4. Vanity Bagh by Anees Salim
Publication: Picador India
Pages: 248
First published: 2013

And we come to the 4th book I am reading for this week, one by an indigenous author, and one that rightly merits The Hindu Literary Award that it won earlier this year. 

Salim's book is out and out regional.The language, the dry humour, the satire - they are done with a causal flair that pulls you into the book and if you like me read on the train, will make you laugh like an isolated loony. This is well on its way to being one of the best reads this year for me. More on this next week. For now, I leave you with one of those quotes that left me shaking with mirth. 

"Pather Pranklin frayed and frayed and 
balked and balked around the free.
- Ghulam Chacha (1902-2007)"

I mean there is a tree in this book, named Franklin really. SOLD!

5. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
Publication: Picador India
Pages: 248
First published: 2013
The main text you see is a famous quote from the book. The title is right there...on the top right corner...
I ended up ditching Trainspotting last week after about 3 chapters of it. This one's a difficult read, very much so if you are not Scottish. (No, drinking Scotch does not count.) Its written out and out in the Scottish dialect and has some seriously grotesque descriptions and scenes that generally seem to lead nowhere because that;s precisely what they are supposed to do. Remember the 'show and tell' requirement. Oh boy does this one show! Its upto you to make the judgements based on what you read. 

I really want to finish reading it but my current over-pregnant TBR demands some relief so I had to send this one back to the library. Someday soon, ya junkies immortalized in these pages, someday soon.

The buddy read is going on very well, thanks for asking. Just when I thought Franzen had worked magic with Chip, Denise, Enid and Alfred, he has unleashed a powerhouse of disturbing, cruel characters (or how you wish to interpret them, all hail the power of show and tell) in the form of Gary's wife and sons, save for Jonah. Jonah is an angel. The plot is so beautifully written and so incredibly honest and true, its deeply scary. This is where true horror lies - in reality and family life!

In other news, one of my friends on Goodreads had posted a really interesting review on The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. The book is being considered something of an Alaipayuthey to young adult literature. It has become wildly famous and is being made into a movie slated for release later this year. It is I admit one of the very few decent reads involving teenagers that I've read in a long time, but my friend had different views on it and it made for a super-stimulating conversation. 

I love that about reading. There are so many opinions out there to hear and discuss and that I believe is how stories and authors are immortalized. What'dya say?

So that was my reading week/almost a week/mid-week. I'm gonna get back to my reading and possible time travel. Feel free to drop a comment,


happy reading!


The images of book covers are from Goodreads.

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