Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison

The Bluest EyeThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am always numbed after reading something that’s so tragic and heart breaking. Finished the book in the dead of the night and sleep wasn’t easy to come.
I didn’t know how to rate this book because obviously the theme was pinching me too much. It was infuriating, sickening, choking and confronting the part of me that thinks.

The ugliness and degradation of the characters is palpable, not because of their looks but because of their thoughts that make them almost inhuman.

Pecola Breedlove is an oppressed, abused girl born into the society conforming to racial discrimination . She is sneered at, tortured and molested not just by outsiders but even by her own father who behaves towards her like an animal. The incestuous, self-centred, abusive tendencies in her father are unforgiveable.

The society in which she lives is purulent by the notion of racial beauty. The idea of white supremacy is the norm of the society and accepted indirectly even by the Blacks.

The idea that she would be accepted only if she has blue eyes haunts Pecola forever. She craves for it, dies for it, prays for her eyes to be blue just so that she people would look at her with love and not disgust.She perceives a change in people’s eyes when they look at her and that torments her little soul. She is degraded only because she is ugly and submits to silence, self-abuse and depression. Her best hope is only to disappear.

Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs—all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured.”
—————————————————————
As long as she looked the way she did, as long as she was ugly, she would have to stay with these people. Somehow she belonged to them. Long hours she sat looking in the mirror, trying to discover the secret of the ugliness, the ugliness that made her ignored or despised at school, by teachers and classmates alike.
—————————————————————
Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes. Fervently, for a year she had prayed. Although somewhat discouraged, she was not without hope. To have something as wonderful as that happen would take a long, long time.

She is ready to do anything for a look of love, a touch of appreciation. Her own family adds to her loneliness with her Parents constant quarrels and disputes.

Pauline Breedlove and Cholly Breedlove have been oppressed and subjected to racial humiliation in their youth and that is what they take out on their children.
Their racial identity suffocates and blinds them to vindictiveness and their inner rage bedevils them to hurt others to meliorate their own crushed feelings.

The justification and humanization of their characters doesn’t bring appeasement. It only disgusts and nauseates more if possible.

Among them are the MacTeers. They are the part of the same society but they are responsible towards their children even with their limited means. The love they show is rough and intermittent but it is still love and support anyways.

The Breedloves on the other hand have succumbed to the society and their own tragic circumstances collapse them further to destruction.

Pecola’s best hope was to disappear and is now in her own complex world where she has blue eyes to imagine and company of an imaginary friend who thinks she has the bluest eyes of all.
She hasn’t disappeared but is ignored by everyone. Her Society, her family has failed her and lost her eventually to their own brutality and unspeakable abuse and torments.

The bluest eyes reminds again that even the words can excruciate and bring pain. The scars that the body bears are easy to heal but that reach the soul remain there forever.

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Categories: Book Review | 4 Comments

The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride The Princess Bride by William Goldman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Princess bride gets a 5 star for me for all the quirky humour,
It’s a beauty with characters making me laugh in mindless calembour

It starts with being Billy’s favourite book when he was yet a kid
His father reads the story skipping the boring parts well hid
When Billy grows up and finds the truth of the flagrant parts not read
He decides to print one for children with previous version abridged!

The Princess bride is now a story of a girl named Buttercup
She was the most beautiful girl in the world when she scrubbed
The story follows through amusing details(with lots of fun in parenthesis)
When Buttercup’s love Westley dies she’s forced to marry the Prince

What follows has a giant,a Sicilian,a six hand sword against a Man in Black
Even with great stories and all their strengths they were beaten by the Man in the mask
He is no other than Westley who actually was supposed to be dead
So, Buttercup decides he is the one she loves and wants to wed

The cunning Prince is furious on this reunion and breaks the couple apart
But, he still isn’t able to break Westley who only listens to his heart
The wedding is coming near and Buttercup is having nightmares
She is desperately waiting for Westley to come and rescue her from the snares

Now we see the union of the giant, the six hand sword and the Man in Black
Together now they are a force bigger than what the Prince could attack
After a few funny fights what finally happens is what happens in all fairy tales
You are left to imagine their happily ever after and all the other details

So,we get them all in one:True love.hate.revenge.giants.bad men. good men
Coward men.strongest men.chases.lies.truths.passion.miracles.and then
What is true is actually there was no book that needed be edited
No Morgenstern’s actually did live or wrote a classic tale that was abridged

Its Willaim Goldman’s genius of a book, This Princess Bride is charmingly his own
It’s genuinely originally a figment of his imagination with added quirks from the unknown!

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Categories: Favourites, Romance | 1 Comment

Never let me go

Never Let Me GoNever Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the kind of book that would make you think in more ways that one. The kind that would linger on with you for long even after you are done with it because it would shake you on an emotional level in a supressing kind of way.

//I am not going to give any spoilers because that would end the entire purpose of reading the book//

Never Let Me Go is set in the school of Hailsham where Kathy, Tommy and Ruth are a group of students in the dark, mysterious part of an alternate world in England, where everything is hush hush and a lot of questions are not to be asked.

There is a wide world outside and the characters are being made ready for the fate that awaits them once they reach a particular stage.
The first part of the book prepares them in a subliminal way about what they are supposed to expect, so much so that when the time of revelation comes the entire shock of what their Life actually means is sucked out of them.
The voice of Kathy who narrates the story is so dead and passive that it would choke you to acknowledge how little she expects of her life and how little is she ready to fight for it, as if somewhere she already has given up without even knowing what she is missing on and why.

She speaks of human life, the fragility of it, memories, loss and the excruciatingly passive tone of narrative would make you think as if it’s an everyday thing.
It would start on something very serious about what Life meant and suddenly go into a different tangent altogether, as if what was being said wasn’t all that important. I think this is primarily to state the point once again as to how frivolously their life was taken to be that nothing else mattered anymore, not even their own Life to themselves.

I don’t like this book for the way it is written.
In fact it became annoying sometimes because you would expect the characters to feel emotions at some point in an intense discussion and you don’t see them get near it anytime sooner. The passivity would just break you apart because it would make your emotions even more difficult to supress.

There is a certain emptiness in the book as in the Life of it’s characters. The build up of tension and mystery is good enough but it just fails to reach its crescendo.

The despair and mystery as to what Life is to these characters would both combine to create a sense of questioning yourself about ethics, purpose of human life and about how we start taking cruelty for granted if it serves the intentions of more powerful beings.

It sends across a point that any life even if it is primarily for the service of others is still Life anyways, something not to be used or to be taken advantage of but being given equal chance to live UNCONDITIONALLY!

The entire onus of taking the book to it’s entirety and debating on it’s various issues from its existence to it’s end is up to the readers. There would be a lot of conflict as to how you would think and what this would mean to you.

Thankfully it’s a dystopian fictional book set in an alternate world where such things would be a possibility. Only that makes it’s reading somewhat breathable.

Recommended for those who like books that take pathos to a level and then leave you with it.

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Categories: Book Review, dystopia, Man booker shortlist | 2 Comments

Possession

PossessionPossession by A.S. Byatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Possession’ is a strong word. In literal sense it refers to the state of having, owning, or controlling something.

Lovers are generally associated with this term as they are often inflicted with the tendency to own their muse. To be controlled by desires, whims and fancies of their lover which reigns over everything else that makes sense.

But, to love is not to possess, to love is to set free and that is what Asbyatt succinctly tells us through her work in Possession which is a literal masterpiece of sorts.

In her novel Possession, A.S. Byatt uses the term throughout the progression of her story. The desire to possess the unidentified letters, the possession of lovers by each other, the possession by feelings , the possession of secrets , the possession by a need to solve the mystery behind the letters, to learn more about the relationship and keeping it to themselves , and even the envy of being de-possessed is glorious.

It makes the reader want to collect all the jewels strewn over the story in terms of symbolism, parallelism, Gothicism, symmetries, analogies, myths and legends, the past and the present , romance, precision , intertwining of two eras in a beautiful maze of relativism, mystery, coincidences, revelations, satire, truth and falsity, wit and intelligence, of finding oneself and losing oneself.

The story shifts beautifully between two eras. One that is contemporary and is inhabited by two academicians Roland Michell and Maud Bailey who through a series of events join each other in the quest and reconstruction of the mysterious romance between two 18th century poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel La Motte.

These two set of characters progress simultaneously in the story in a concurrence and move alternately in their respective eras through means of letters, poems, biographies, entries, fairy tales that make excessive use of art, symbolism and the narrative that unfolds their quest through their journey together.

The parallelisms are everywhere.

They are seen between Randolph and Roland Michell who had quiet, dissatisfying lives with Ellen and Val respectively. Ellen is Randolph’s wife whereas Val is Rolan’s live-in mate.
In the same way Christabel and Maud also have a similarity in their physical appearance. Both are obsessed with the color green and wan’t to be known for their literary capabilities. They both have a close relationship with their female friends.
Randolph brings Christabel out of her state of not wanting to be friendly, to being friends and then lovers finally. Roland is obsessed with Maud and wants to reach out to her but her own insufficiency stops him from doing that.

Possession is sonorous with the beauties that make its reading a pleasure.
It shimmers with the beautiful inputs of poetry of the Victorian era that make this work of fiction an art which is for the readers who enjoy the literary work of such precision and glimmer.

Excerpts:

Randolph Henry Ash

And is love then more
Than the kick galvanic
Or the thundering roar
Of Ash volcanic
Belched from some crate
Of earth-fire within?
Are we automata
Or Angel-kin?


Christabel LaMotte

Gloves lie together
Limp and calm
Finger to finger
Palm to palm
With whitest tissue
To embalm
In these quiet cases
With hands creep
With supple stretchings
Out of sleep
Fingers clasp fingers
Troth to keep

What is beautiful is to see how the personalities are shown clearly in each of their poetry. Randolpd’s poetry is masculine, Spartan and strong in its nature whereas that of Christabel depicts feminism, rhyme and metaphors.

Feminism rules the prose and it’s shines like a diamond. A few experts from an assortment of precious gems:

The best we may hope is—oh, it is excellently done—for a woman. And then there are Subjects we may not treat—things we may not know. I do not say but that there must be—and is—some essential difference between the Scope and Power of men and our own limited consciousness and possible weaker apprehension. But I do maintain, as stoutly, that the delimitations are at present, all wronglydrawn—We are not mere candleholders to virtuous thoughts—mere chalices of Purity—we think and feel, aye and read—which seems not to shock youin us, in me, though I have concealed from many the extent of my— vicarious—knowledge of human vagaries. Now—if there is a reason for my persistence in this correspondence—it is this very unawareness in you—real or assumed—of what a woman must be supposed to be capable of.
———————————————————–
And what surfaces of the earth do we women choose to celebrate,who have appeared typically in phallocentric texts as a penetrable hole, inviting or abhorrent, surrounded by, fringed with—something? Women writers and painters are seen to have created their own significantly evasive landscapes, with features which deceive or elude the penetrating gaze, tactile landscapes which do not privilege the dominant stare.

With her literary genius A.S. Byatt has managed to create a distinctive style for each of them which makes these
fictional characters come to Life.

When the secrets are finally revealed and the story comes out all together it makes the coming together of a jig-saw puzzle that reinstates the intricacy of its details.

Pieces finally fit together when the readers know that Ash was aware of his child through Christabel his wife Ellen so tried to hide from him which shows that events of life cannot be controlled and shouldn’t be controlled too. Nothing but suspicion and betrayed comes out of it and even that is insufficient to hide the truth.

This book cannot be justified as a one-time read. It has to be read and re-read to fully capture its essence that is satisfying, enlightening and on so many levels that the readers who have the calibre to identify such pieces of treasures cannot keep themselves from it after giving it one look.

They will be compelled to savour it again, probably with a much leisurely use of time at their hands that can be duly committed to this brilliant work of art.

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Why I write?

When I try and think why I write there are a 101 reasons that come to my mind.
I write to discover myself; For the hidden treasures in the art that I find.

I write for the addict that I am to it.
I write to fight my inadequacies; to find solutions to problems I won’t quit.
I write to breathe, to exclaim and vent.
I write to make up for the time I lost when I didn’t.
I write to feel it’s pleasure. I write to feed my soul.
I write because it creates me; it makes me feel whole.
I write out of hate. I write out of love.
I write for what’s inside me. I write for the acceptance I am deemed unworthy of.
I write when words are too beautiful to say.
I write to explore the sections of my mind deemed grey.
I write about what brings me to madness. I write about what makes my heart sing.
I write for myself. I write because it gives me wings.
I write to gain control of my solitude. I write to tranquilize my agony.
I write to uncover what I have the difficulty to say. I write for my sanity.
I write to make peace with my angels. I write to fight my demons.
I write to make sense of things that have no rhyme or reason.
I write to linger on the love that I feel.
I write to assert the thoughts I am unable to conceal.
I write to be able to fly away to the moon. I write to chase the shooting star.
I write because it makes me feel so much lighter. I write when I feel the need to share.
I write knowing well that it makes me vulnerable to the precariousness of exposure.
I write to melt away the burden of ages. I write for it’s bliss and for the love of expression.
I write when I see the world ending in greed.
I write because it hurts too much; I write hoping to sow some beautiful seeds.
I write to ease the blisters that hate and animosity brings.
I write to feel the rain cascading upon it. I write waiting for the Springs.

I write for the marvel of words; I write when everything else falls short.
I write for the warmth it envelopes me with. I write for it’s comfort.

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Lolita

LolitaLolita by Vladimir Nabokov
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta:the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap,at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

These very first lines would make it clear to you that Lolita is not for the pusillanimous or someone retreating to his snug confines anytime he reads something out of his comfort-zone.

It’s a bold, controversial story of a 37 year old paedophile Humber obsessed with a 12 year old ‘nymphet’ Dolores “Lolita” Haze.
The very topic is obscene, repulsive and salacious to any sensible mind.

So why would you read it? Why is it still a masterpiece?
Because, even the risqué nature of the plot wouldn’t hide the art of words that makes it a compulsive read.

Through his word-play Nabokov manages to convert from what is clearly an obsessive, vulgar piece of a solipsistic confession to a tragic, emotional love story.

Humbert is possessed by Lolita, so much so that he fails to see the injustice and cruelty of his actions.
He is a child-monster, an adulterer, a self-proclaimed trickster who relieves himself of his guilt time and time again by acknowledging himself as loved by all, sophisticated European in America who was too handsome for his own good.For him everything else is ridiculous. The American culture, its live-in-the-moment nature and pre-occupation on youth is to be ridiculed and taunted.

From the aproned pot-scrubber to the flannelled potentate, everybody liked me,everybody petted me.

“I was, and still am, despite mes malheurs, an exceptionally handsome male… I could attain any adult female I chose”

Incidentally, because of the adolescent, unconsummated memories of his desire that was forcibly crushed at the age of 14, he is disturbingly haunted by the ghost of Annabel Leigh, with whom he had a short-term, ungratifying love affair.
He is deeply fixated on his yearnings from that time and is controlled at some level with his frustrations at the remnants of his longings.

I leaf again and again through these miserable memories, and keep
asking myself, was it then, in the glitter of that remote summer, that the rift in my life began; or was my excessive desire for that child only the first evidence of an inherent singularity?

Humbert’s readers are his judge but he fails to completely vindicate himself. His solipsism and one-sided story makes him a psychologically disturbed fornicator.

Humbert is a psychopath who wants to own Lolita.
His obsession finally turns to love when he loses her but he is crushed when Lolita prefers Cue, who incidentally his mirror image over him.

“No,” she said, “it is quite out of the question. I would sooner go
back to Cue. I mean–“
She groped for words. I supplied them mentally (“He broke my
heart. You merely broke my life”).

The tragedy lies in the fact that even with his self-praise what really stands out is his failure as a father, a lover and even as a captor.
The tide turns even when Humbert is transformed from a seducer to a victim of his own monomania.

You may jeer at me, and threaten to clear the court,
but until I am gagged and half-throttled, I will shout my poor truth. I
insist the world know how much I loved my Lolita, this Lolita, pale
and polluted, and big with another’s child, but still gray-eyed, still
sooty-lashed, still auburn and almond, still Carmencita, still mine!

The language of “Lolita” is an art.
The beauty of words dims the vulgarity and singular harshness of his paedophilia and incestuous thinking. The veil of words is beautifully lyrical. What really brings comfort is to know that no amount of trickery or self-adulation can change the truth that one always knows.

The web of lies is only for the outsiders. Inside our souls each one of us knows and laments our sins and follies and no amount of word-play can change that or rid us of our guilt.

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Categories: Book Review, Classics | 35 Comments

The Help

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always been one of belief that deeds make a person.
Not your bank balance, neither your legacy and definitely not your looks.

To ask you a question, wouldn’t you be attached to someone who has been a major influence in your upbringing and an everlasting presence in the formative years of your Life, who did things for you not because he/she has to but because he/she loved to do it for you and understood even your small needs.
Would you be human enough and share the love and respect back in return because all that person has shared with you is love and affection or would you be blinded by the barriers the society has raised and submit yourself to the same disgrace once you are old enough to know the conventions?

To read a book that is based on a society where discrimination arises solely on the color of your skin is definitely an emotional read and to see it clearly from the viewpoint of someone who goes through that ordeal daily for a lifetime does makes you feel helpless if not utterly frustrated.

The story is based on the issues of racism and classism deeply ingrained in Southern America, set at a time when it was at the brink of Civil Rights Movement.
There are quite a few strong characters that make this book an intriguing read.
Aibleen, Minny are the two black maids on the experiences of whom Skeeter an aspiring writer hopes to being forth the voices that need to be heard by publishing their sides of the story.

Skeeter is white and still risks it all, she abandons her friendship with her friends and even takes chances on the guy she apparantly loves. I like her honesty and her strength that makes her stand apart from all the so called Southern belles of wealth and power.

Aibleen and Minny are black. Even though they are raised in opressive and submissive times and know the dangers of being found out, but still they find the rewards of being voiced and heard sweeter than the risks involved. They at times show so much strength and determination that it would be a shame to not acknowledge them for their character.

It’s surprising to read how the people in that era didn’t even have the faintest idea or realization that what they were doing was actually an injustice. For them they may trust a person to raise their child but not respect them enough to share the same table.
It will shock you, embarass you and even shame you with its originality and truth.

“It’s true. There are some racists in this town,” Miss Leefolt say. Miss Hilly nod her head, “Oh, they’re out there.”

The beauty of the book is in what it delivers and the message it brings.
There may be flaws in the dialect used, there may be nuances in the story and unresolved or unnecessary details here and there but the core of the subject simply makes you find peace at some levels.

The peace to know that you may have limitations, but limitations are nothing when you have a will power to overturn them.

The peace to realise that manipluation and contriving gets you nowhere, you ultimately get your doing back with your own deeds coming to haunt you.

And last but not the least that however many foul means you use to get people to your side, you are ultimately left alone to face the consequences.

What really is beautiful is to see that individually there is no winning for either of them, but, in their unity even though their awakening to the road to freedom is still shaky with twists and turns, their learning is remarkable and their success in the end is truly gratifying and substantial!

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A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It’s the kind of book that you would read just to test your patience, the kind that may put you off reading for a long time once you are done with it, the kind that you may probably read as a pallette cleanser because you’ve had your fill of too many good books and you need a bad book in between so that you may enjoy them again!

Yes! this is what this book is all about and that too if you wan’t to write something good about it!

What really surpised me was the ability Martin showed of writing something close to a 1000 pages and still nothing worth reading happening in it.

We all know wars are messy and are bound to be sprayed with blood but is it necessary to always end someone with their entrails hanging out and their stink filling the room.
Women are nothing but things-to-be-used-by-men to GRRM and his entire series is replete with the notion.

Even the most promising characters in A Storm of Swords failed to deliver. People are either travelling or losing body parts or getting sick with strange diseases. Even Daenerys fails to impress
and is left as nothing but a helpless character that needs to be rescued. The only exciting thing that happened with her was her flight from Meereen on Drogon.

The first three books of the series seem fresh and compelling in comparison with the last two.

Countless characters make A Dance With Dragons even more confusing and nothing more than a mashed up soup of unwanted ingredients, something that neither soothes you, nor satisfies you, but makes you even sicker if possible.(Using food in the same obsessive way as GRRM who describes all the feasts laid to grostesque details)

The story just doesn’t advance at all. Every character is doing the same thing over and over again as if they are stuck in the same loop as GRRM from which he isn’t able to entangle himself.
If GRRM suffers through gibberishomania then he sure suffers through over writing of gibberish as well.

Probably his pen got infected at somepoint with some strange disease as the ones he created in his book that even he lost control over what was coming out of it.

‘Words are wind’ are his most repeated and famous words. But, with a book like that words are nothing but stale wind, something none of us would like to get acquainted with.

I am thankfully done with it and can now move on to reading something that would not be utterly nonsense.
And now this book can be placed in the dustiest corner of my house where it best be ‘A feast for the booklouse’!

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