Friday, 27 June 2014

God of small things.

Brilliant brilliant book, but so evocative and depressing.

Listing a number of quotes I liked from the book. (No spoilers.)
"It is after all so easy to shatter a story. To break a chain of thought. To ruin a fragment of a dream being carried around carefully like a piece of porcelain. To let it be, to travel with it, as Velutha did, is much the harder thing to do."

"The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don't deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don't surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover's skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don't. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won't. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn't. And yet you want to know again.
That is their mystery and their magic."

"He folded his fear into a perfect rose. He held it out in the palm of his hand. She took it from him and put it in her hair."

After someone said "Searching for the beast that lives in him",

"Searching for the man who lives in him was perhaps what he really meant, because certainly no beast has essayed the boundless, infinitely inventive art of human hatred. No beast can match its range and power."

Also, I finished this book and was thinking of what to have for dinner when my fingers magically typed out the following piece about a fictional nameless character, so I thought I'd post it too.

He was completely shaken and he couldn't put in words the hopeless sense of loss he felt at that moment. The book had put his soul through a wringer, and had extracted every possible reaction from him, from heartwarming chuckles to unadulterated fury to total despair. No other book had made him feel so much melancholy in such a drawn out fashion. True, he had read evocative books before, he was not new to the anguish that only one's mind and imagination, helped along by careful words could cause. This book perhaps caused all the more agony because he could associate himself with the gross injustice and hypocrisy in the society. Sure, his friends would carelessly smirk and claim that he had had a peach of a life and had never had to witness the ugly facade of a society imbued with historic prejudices carefully wrapped up in the skin of culture and values. To him, it mattered. He couldn't be a part of the revolution because he hadn't experienced the pain, because he could never empathize. He was from among the oppressors, and therefore, by default had a heart of stone, and therefore, couldn't fight beside them, against prejudice. The irony was lost on them. To them, at best, he could be an outsider who would support and probably say a word of encouragement or two. He could never be at the heart of it, and fight the things he thought were unjust. His anger at the injustice was passed off as eye-wash and his occasional jokes to be accepted among the oppressed deemed callous. The truth was that he had seen both sides, had worn both masks. Of the oppressor and of the oppressed. He liked neither. What could he do? Act as an ambassador of the few in his birth-community among the other, try to show them their own hypocritical ways, and convince them that not all were oppressors and to accept the people who wanted to change the way things were without branding them based on their birth? Or act as their ambassador and try to show the oppressors that the oppressed were often actually being oppressed? That the various acts being performed in the name of values and culture was unfair. That it was unfair on him that he was among the children who were taught by their parents in the formative years as to whom to hate, be wary of, and not trust, how, and how much. The truth was, he could do neither, for he belonged to neither place.
He was a nowhere man. In his cara-van. Dum dum.
All he could do was curse the whole wide world for what it was, thank god for all the Arundhati Roys who write books telling the world on it's hypocritical ways so that they could be hated, and hating this particular one with all his heart, for sucking all the happiness and optimism out of him, for making him think of the world as a dreary place with sun meaning famine and rain meaning ominous, for the hopeless quest to answer the question of "Who am I?" that his life had become, and for the meaningless rage in his heart for Ammu and Rahel and Estha and Velutha that he now had nowhere to place. But in spite of all this, will he read it again? Yes. Later. Lay. Ter.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Books of 2013

2013 was not a great year for me with respect to books.

I took forever to finish Moby Dick, although I am very very happy that I stuck with it. After that, although I really badly wanted to start either Hemingway's A farewell to arms, or Marquez's One hundred years of solitude, I didn't think I'd be able to handle it right then. And the timely spoiler for A farewell to arms in the Silver Linings Playbook movie did NOT help. In any case, I wanted to read a number of "easier" reads before taking up either of them. The first of those was The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri. Earlier, I had also succumbed to peer pressure and had started reading A Song of Ice and Fire in parallel, even before I completed Moby Dick, which in retrospect was a good decision, for the spoilers came in large numbers once the TV show became more popular among my friends. I read the first 4 books, but I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of A Dance with Dragons yet. I might just go ahead and buy it.

I don't remember in what order I read them, but the next 3 books were The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (which I had written about earlier), and 100 years of solitude by Marquez.

The Diary of a Young Girl was a weird experience. After all the things I had heard about the book, I was all set for the sadness, but it doesn't hit you immediately. The sadness creeps in to you slowly throughout the book. The situation gets worse in such a slow fashion that you are almost not conscious of it. And then, when the book ends the way it does, the severity of the situation hits you and well, I don't know how to finish this sentence.

100 years of solitude is probably the most beautiful book I've read, if at all you can call a book that. The whole book was a dream where more often that not, one cannot explain the sequence of events, the characters, or the setting. He moves a character in and out of the spotlight so very seamlessly. And this I absolutely have to mention, that book has the most eerily beautiful first and last lines. I wanted to write a separate post on the book, but I don't think I'll be able to.

After this came a long period where I tried reading Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence, but could never make progress as I was too busy with my graduate applications, and later with my Dual Degree Project. Then I had to read The Hobbit before the movie came to theatres.

The year ended with me having read just around 10 odd books and the sad part was I couldn't even remember all the books I read (And so I joined GoodReads, so that I will be able to actively track my reading from now on). Having said that, I read some pretty amazing books this year. I also read a lot more of poetry than I usually do. And I hope to read more in 2014.

Happy New Year!