Saturday, August 23, 2014

Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

I think I should have read this book some 15 years ago. Then it would have been different. There are times when I badly wanted to go to the other chapter and there are times when I felt like not reading anymore. Maybe the element of prudence is too much for me. But as I said, it could have made a major difference when I was 13 or 17 years old. I think I resembled Jo a lot. Overall I liked it. It begins with a happy note and ends again with a happy note. I really like the scene when Jo cuts her hair to help her father. She knew that she would not get the same mane again. But she did not show any distress about it. But in the middle of the night, she lets out a moan thinking that everyone were fast asleep. When Meg heard it, she consoles her. This scene was a quite a touchy.

Before this year ends, I would like to read 5 classics and thus I completed 1.

These are some of my favourite quotes

She preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, because when tired of them, the former could be shut up in the tin kitchen till called for, and the latter were less manageable.”

I don't like favors; they oppress and make me fell like a slave. I'd rather do everything for myself, and be perfectly independent.”

You have a good many little gifts and virtues, but there is no need of parading them, for conceit spoils the finest genius. There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long; even if it is, the consciousness of possessing and using it well should satisfy one, and the great charm of all power is modesty.”

My Jo, you may say anything to your mother, for it is my greatest happiness and pride to feel that my girls confide in me and know how much I love them.”

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Detour to Canada - Sunil Nair

Detour to Canada’, a debut work of Canada-based Keralite, Sunil Nair has a simple storyline. An Indian student Vinu who has no focus in life dreams of going to the United States of America. But future has something else in store for him. He reaches Canada and he aspires to go to the US from there. During his stay in Canada, his life and perception changes. The elements that bring the change forms the crux of the story. The book is too simple that the question, ‘does the reader need such a simple tale at a time when technology rules the roost’, pops up. It should have been told more than 20 years ago.

Even the fact that this is the author’s debut book could not salvage him from some of the grave mistakes he had committed here. Firstly, home work, a prerequisite for any kind of endeavour is absent. Sadly, it is too conspicuous that it can halt a reader from moving ahead with the story.

There are many such instances in the book that can prove it beyond doubt. When Ramdas’s (Vinu’s father) cousin Raj calls from the USA, the former inquires about the hurricane ‘Sandy’ that has hit America. Ramdas who is unaware of the incident, would have known it from his son who constantly googles about that country. To Ramdas’s query, Raj expresses surprise and replies as follows - ‘You guys already got the news about hurricane? India sure is catching up on international news.’ This is a bit far-fetched. People of India were never that ignorant. The author should have taken pains to know the pulse of changing India. 

The other instance is Vinu dialling 911 instead of 011, the telephone code of India from Canada. Is a computer science graduate from Kochi, that ignorant? Can’t he just simply know that 911 is an emergency number? There is another instance where Vinu expresses wonder over the importance given to Mahatma Gandhi in a foreign land. The author entirely forgot the fact that even the President of the United States has a photo of Mahatma Gandhi in his office cabin. When Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, the whole world interpreted it as a victory of the ideals of Gandhi.

Next comes the language. The book lacks creative flow. Though you read English, you will feel like you are reading Malayalam. A few examples to show that: ‘You are on his side. Just tie him to your sari and keep him with you forever.’; ‘Please don’t start now.’ ; ‘They will kill me then and there.’; ‘There will be fireworks in the house now.’ (here the author is referring to the verbal duel that is about to begin); ‘He is not a typical type....’, the list is endless.

Some portion of the story is like what to do to study in the USA. It seems that the book never went to the editing table. The work of the author could fare better if it paid attention to these details.

Interestingly, even with these flaws, there a was moment in the book that could bring tears in the eyes of the reader.

Even if it’s for a second, the author could bring that emotional element. Mistakes are of course the stepping stone to learning. A big appreciation for the author who took the courage to put it out what he has.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Reading classic challenge for beginners

I have joined Classic reading challenge for beginners, 2014. As only 4 months have left, I decided to read 5 books.

  1. Little Women – Mary Louisa Alcott
  2. Wuthering Heights - Emilie Bronte
  3. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  4. Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
I am yet to decide the 5th book

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri

There are many books which I do not review purely for the reason that I love to cherish them. That's why I did not review Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Unaccustomed earth' and 'Interpreter of maladies' . But I decided to talk about her book ' The Lowland ' just because I came across many negative reviews.

Some have even pledged that they would not read her books unless she tries to break out that ' NRI cocoon'. There is no dispute over the subject that too much of the same element can make a reader form his/her own preconceived notions on that particular author. But I really do not think, in this story she had used the ' NRI element' just to create a story. Calling her story trivial on this grounds would be an absolute injustice.

Some commented that the Naxalism described in the book is not suffice. Here I would like to point out that this book does not primarily delve into Naxalism. The characters of the story start their lives' journey from 1960's. Naxalism was at it zenith during that period in West Bengal. Perhaps the only place in India which saw the repercussions of Naxalism at its worst.

The fate of Gouri altered when she left Calcutta for America. The Naxalism rampant in the state pulled the trigger for it. Lahiri spoke about the movement, Kanu Sanyal and Charu Majumdar but not superfluously . The details are enough to get a reader acquainted with Naxalism. More of it would have puzzled them. Besides, the story does not demand Naxalism in detail. It is described to form a back ground and not to talk about the pros and cons of the movement.

I have even read in a review that it is an NRI love story – an emphatic ' No' to that. It would be like closing the doors of opportunities to explore a beautiful fiction. The story revolves around a few characters – Udayan, Subhash, Gouri, Bela. But they are round characters and not flat with loads of emotions to convey. They haunt you for many days. The story starts. But does it end? It is for you to discover.

I did not feel like reading a fiction with a set format. It was a journey along with evolving emotions which was a ride in its own way.