Saturday, May 17, 2014

This Week In Books - 17th May

Its been a stinking bout of reading for me...not many titles that knocked my socks off this past month...but a bookworm just soldiers on doesn't she? Let me wrap up my reads from last week...

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

Well, after that jump start, with the mugging initiating some changes the book takes a nosedive and becomes a complete bore fest. Probably because we have two kinds of old people complaining about their lives in two different ways, one middle-aged character going through a mediocre-level middle-life crisis, an adulterer and his psycho wife, a mistress and her failed attempt at a remodelling contract -all of them written in a way that does nothing to make you feel anything towards the characters.
Beyond a point I couldn't care less about what happened to them. Peace out!

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

This book was quite disappointing given that it has garnered terrific support in book circles. I think the 'Snow White re-telling' tag used to sell it only increased my disregard for it. I didn't outright hate it, it does have some bouts of superb writing but those clash with some really bland and illogical parts that don't make the end result satisfying. The plot deals with racism primarily, how prejudice against colored people worked in the time period this book is set in and for such a serious issue, neither the exploration nor development of characters did any justice to the points of view they were entrusted with. 

Snow just became a ruse after a point, Boy became unreasonable without solid backing and hence boring, Bird was just annoying and not quite drawn out well. I expected better.

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

Which is why this book was a life-saver! A redeemer of bookwormly faith. My word the dark humour. I loved every page of it. We have one more terrific Indian writer on the scene and I couldn't be happier. 

Salim deals cheek, wit and sarcasm with an expert hand and it is the Indianness of this book that makes it brilliant and super-enjoyable. Mine was a library copy but I fully intend to buy my own and mark the hell out of those lines! Two thumbs-up dear author. Looking forward to reading more from you. 

4. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
Publication: Scribner
Pages: 368
First published: 1993

So this book won a Pulitzer and comes from the author who wrote Brokeback Mountain which is a short story/novella that was developed into the movie. I love that movie, Gyllenhall and Ledger acted the crap out of it and I was only super excited to read a novel by the same author. 

I began reading like this.

It was nice to start with.Then came this weird kind of writing and that makes you think someone wrote the lines and cut it all up and when they put it together a lot of words went missing. And this wasn't even with good reason. I understand the urge behind complex prose. You use big words and try expressing big ideas that take a couple of reads to get through...that's fine. But missing words in between deliberately, writing like its a gimmick, making me wonder if you are hiding in my closet sniggering at my annoyance...that's just rude. I ploughed through to 50 pages. And then I did what most people seem to have done with this book.

We hear ya Bradley...
I wanted to burn this book, but you know...library copy and all that.

Coming to my current reads. After that mostly unsatisfactory list, save for Vanity Bagh, I really wish I could find my pace and bliss again amidst written pages. One of my Goodreads friends recommended this book:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

The author herself calls it a re-telling of Cinderella, except Cinder is a cyborg machine. Sounds awesome. Let's see.

I also have Lisa See's China Dolls on my list this week. Its an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) and the book hits the market in June. I like what I've read so far. 

I'm also deliberating between these two:


So that's about it in titles this week. I'm looking to read Indian fiction primarily in the coming months so if you've got suggestions do leave them in the comments, thank you very much.

This week also made me realize how some book sites and reviewers can be super snobs about their opinions. While they talk about freedom of expression and each one's right to his own views, they don't quite practise what they preach. I guess we never get over the power set-up that high school teaches us, do we? The loudest and arrogant ones are the ones that always seem to rule. 

Drama queens everywhere! That came out as an extended thought. What do you think about snobbery in reading? Drop a comment; let's discuss.

Cheers and happy reading everyone :)

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