If you set aside the superlative beauty that is the Swedish television series, the three main reasons I love Wallander are:
1. First off, I can't thinkIf you set aside the superlative beauty that is the Swedish television series, the three main reasons I love Wallander are:
1. First off, I can't think of a single series of books other than the Wallanders that capture the contemporary issues of the modern world, specifically that of Europe so accurately, without ever trying to resolve them with morality. Mankell manages to pastiche decent storytelling with a multitude of issues plaguing the first world - politics, race, juvenile crime, immigration, abuse, problem marriages, consumerism etc.
2. Second, Wallander narratives are examples of textbook police work and investigation. In fact if you want to learn more about the classical, pre-technology detective work - interviews, corroboration, alibis, profiling, autopsy, fingerprints, ballistics, just pick up any Wallander book.
3. Not the least in anyway, realistic portrayal and great characterisation, e.g. a protagonist - who actually struggles to manage the so called 'balance' between personal and professional lives without much success. In fact It was only after reading Wallander books I felt less guilty about turning up late on dates :)
Wallander is so unique not only for the genre, but literature in general. In this book, written retrospectively, Mankell sketches back to the 21 year old Wallander, who having just joined the police force, stumbles onto his first case and begins to develop a nose to trail and link unseeming leads in a purported crime, under the able mentorship of Hemborg.
And here, in this book, of all the Wallander books, you could easily find the above enlisted reasons of my love for Wallander in its most simplistic, skeletal form....more
Like all other Jon Ronson works, the book weaves together a bunch of curious stories on events or people - this time less fringe, more contemporaneousLike all other Jon Ronson works, the book weaves together a bunch of curious stories on events or people - this time less fringe, more contemporaneous characters. Jon explores a series of Newage digital stories with shame ( and public shaming) as the leitmotif of the book : stories of Jonah Lehrer, Justin Sacco, Lindsay Stone, Adria Richards etc ...
Stories are well presented with the usual Jon Ronson package : event background, Interview with person, reflection. Jon attempts to weave the stories into a narrative coursing back to very Gladwellian semiscientific theories ( Gustave Le bon, Philip Zimbardo) to explain social media outrage. There are interesting thoughts here and there, but overall the book is mostly descriptive - a sort of compilation of silly Facebook and Twitter gaffes that resulted in viral outrage than offer any true novel conclusion from the stories.
In my view, the general fallacy with finding a theory to explain generic internet/ social media behaviour is that internet unlike other human inventions before, can't be examined as a single entity. Internet, eventually is the people who use it; one can't pin down all the people in the world to a single theory or response, regardless of however consistent or predictable it is without accounting for a large number of factors in the context ( same mistakes of Zimbardo, Gladwell etc) .
Picked it up as a light read for travel as it's been on the charts for while. Started out as funny, you could hear it narrated by Kelly from the OfficPicked it up as a light read for travel as it's been on the charts for while. Started out as funny, you could hear it narrated by Kelly from the Office. I gather she is a decent comedian / writer, but there is nothing memorable in whatever I have read so far. Started out as a bit funny and has grown into somewhere between monotonous and boring. An American book written for Americans."
Okay, finished it. The parts covering The Office was better than the parts of the book that came before.Perhaps because it is the only time the narration moves into a realm of being a bit more relatable? The remainder of the book just trundled into some sort banal-blog-standard writing about fashion and general garden-variety-East-Coast-LOLs.
Quite a self-serving self-consumed book that I can't see anyone appreciating unless one is a dumb teenager or a a weird Mindy Kaling Fan. Honestly, Ive seen better writing at the back of shampoo bottles. OMG!! Mindy this is so freaking cool right? LOL, we should totally hang out, we could check out new Moroccan restaurant smoking hookah and watch men wearing J crew Peacoats walking in the street all day. Oh wait is that Amy Pohler over there?
This book, though small has been smouldering on my reading list for a few months now, and I finally managed to finish it today. I quite liked it; it sThis book, though small has been smouldering on my reading list for a few months now, and I finally managed to finish it today. I quite liked it; it strikes the right combination of charm and melancholy, like any ideal travel ought to be. Alain explores the idea of travel as philosophy, writing in tandem personal ideas on travel with a few informative quirky stories of travel in the history - e.g. - Baudelaire's fascination with the Orient, Humbolt's insatiable travel genius - along with his own personal stories of how he finds transformed by travel, as a person and as a dynamic between people. The prose is divided into anecdotes themed as Departure, Motives, Landscape, Art, and Return. The anecdotes are nostalgic and at times humorous.
All in all an enjoyable and informative read, I'm sure any travellers will certainly enjoy it. Crib: wish it was bigger book with deeper exploration. ...more
Criss-crossing between essays in a pick-up-and-read -style, as such books ought to be read. Finished Unpacking My Library and Jacques Henri Lartigue aCriss-crossing between essays in a pick-up-and-read -style, as such books ought to be read. Finished Unpacking My Library and Jacques Henri Lartigue and the discovery of India. Typical Dyer stuff. I need to find a way to transcribe the paragraphs I like, not I actually I have a pen scanner that I haven't used for a while. Now is time again....more
The book jacket identifies the Paris Trance as a romance. I suppose to a large extent it is indeed a romance. Geoff Dyer who I am getting to scorninglThe book jacket identifies the Paris Trance as a romance. I suppose to a large extent it is indeed a romance. Geoff Dyer who I am getting to scorningly, grudglingly admire ( more for the life he’s lead than his writing, which by no measure is any less admirable) is a writer of themes and images.
The stories of the two couples, on their own and together is developed well. The unique, perhaps even daring aspect of the book is the dedication to idleness. I’ve never come across a book where the characters mooch around as much as they do in this one. It’s almost as if the book itself had smoked a joint and entered a trance.
Dyer has indeed admitted that one of the two main purposes of the book was to capture this aimlessness (the aimlessness of the 20s to be specific , the other purpose - to capture the drifting away). Dyer does capture it well in wry, informed Dyereseque prose ; a typical Dyer sentence would essentially twist on its tail contradicting its meaning yet conveying a perfect sentiment. And it is for this self flagellating funplay, that one reads Dyer. But as the book progresses the images and the themes that Dyer specializes in turn monotonous and well, excessive. Somewhere midway through the book I became slightly nonplussed and at pages even lost interest.
Dyer is a core romantic in denial. All his works or rather the books that I've read so far are elaborate sublimation to wrap the romance in a deliberate, middle aged sort of wisdom, even cynicism. But at its heart they are all young wild at heart romances.
Agreed that Paris Trance is a romance and agreed it is Paris, but how often do you meet a woman studying Nietzsche in Paris who also fancies walking past the idle men playing street football everyday at lunch time? She must be almost unrealistic right? This is where I find Dyer faltering in his fictions, in his conception of his fictions rather (he’s admitted he’s poor at plots).
Most of his characters save for the protagonist ( who are invariably versions of himself) lack the richness of what I would call ‘an original fiction writer’, say Zadie Smith. Often most of his women characters become versions of themselves. I couldn’t tell the difference between Nicole in Paris Trance and Laura in Jeff in Venice… Dyer seems to fail to look beyond a set template that he seems to have for his women – they are always intelligent, funny, articulate, somewhat attracted to marginalised men, and they are invariably, good at quips!
For these reasons we don’t really know much about Nicole in the book. I mean her own internal mind, her perspective. For the most of the book she is invariably looked at from outside, while pages and chapters go on about Luke. In the story both Luke and Nicole seem equally purposeless and lacking any direction, which is what makes them a great couple, well couple in a first place. But something’s got to give right? Of the two, Nicole seems more mainstream and integrated. She comes close to questioning Luke about his life once - What does he want to do? gets a typical I'm living my happiness answer and drifts back into the trance again! I felt slightly disappointed that somehow Dyer leans towards Luke than Nicole, almost overlooking her if not ignoring. I would have loved if Nicole actually broke up with Luke than the other way around. She had reasons to, yet it seemed that Dyer was too preoccupied with Luke which left the ending, in my opinion, one-sided and somewhat confused. I am aware that Dyer was trying to portray the absurdity and the confusion of the breaking up, but again it can’t be absurd without it making no sense to both the parties involved. As far as I know, the separation made perfect sense to Luke and Nicole just went with it. It's symbolised in their parting scene where Luke makes Nicole walk away from him while he watches her leave, as though living a Noir scene of a movie he had memorized in Pariscope. She willfully complies!
Must say was slightly relieved to finish it. And quite aptly finished in travelling in Turkey in the meander river basin, the river that gave us the word meandering just what the book did in its latter half.
As a plot and characterizations quite thin actually, not one of Dyer’s best, and slightly stretched, otherwise a good read, the usual Dyer positives apply like the change of narrator - enjoyable in most parts. I loved some of the Parisian images the book evoked, Dyer's view of Englishness and the coffeeshop flags conversation. Even Dyer can’t convince me that the said conversation didn’t really happened in his life.
Perhaps the best post modern travel experiences captured into a book ever. Dyer writes from airports to photography to hotels to loneliness to women (Perhaps the best post modern travel experiences captured into a book ever. Dyer writes from airports to photography to hotels to loneliness to women ( all of which I can easily relate to) in his own inimitable style - fusion of history, memoir, travelogue, philosophy creating arguably an unique way of looking and perceiving things. ...more
Technically, this is my first Dyer and I liked it. That, in itself, would make it unlikable for an average reader.
The book is really two separate noveTechnically, this is my first Dyer and I liked it. That, in itself, would make it unlikable for an average reader.
The book is really two separate novellas: the first is the story of Jeff Atman, an aimless middle rung journalist in London who is assigned to cover the Venice Binneale to a ‘scoop’ interview around a story of prized nude photograph of a singer?
The action moves to very ‘otter’ than ever before Venice. Jeff, portrayed as somewhat of an outsider at the international art scene, trudges along the parties and galleries gulping Bellinis and snorting Cocaine. He meets Laura an American gallery owner (or was she a curator?) Anyway, they hit off. They roam around piazzos and gallerias cracking airy drunken jokes and witty repartees at each other. They duly end up doing what two people who hit off are expected to do – have roaring sex! The segment is well written – cynical but dipped in comical smugness, an unmistakable sense of lurking gaiety pervades through the pages as Jeff looks down upon the clichés and the quirks of art world between his broad range of experiences in Venice - absolute aimlessness ( keenly observing a pigeon on a pavement or snorting cocaine in a cathedral) to kinky sex and snogging in public toilets. He even manages to get stoned with his celebrity interviewee. I loved the sense of humour that Dyer smuggles into this segment - not overt yet well ingrained within the dialogues. There are quite a bit of puns too. (Dyer – hair dye etc)
The second part is the story of an unnamed protagonist (May be Dyer / may be Jeff, it is never revealed ) who gets assigned ( ? again) at the last minute as a substitute to write an article about Varanasi the historical-holy city of the Hindus.
He starts off at a typical arm's distance – mildly disdainful of the poor hygiene and the mad Indian traffic, but slowly gets drawn into the Hindu idea of the life and universe. He overstays well past his assignment, gets initially attracted to a fellow Brit and later a Swiss traveler but not as much as to the city itself which continually entices him like a long lost lover, unraveling through its strange inhabitants and mysterious ways that appear, at once, both profound and meaningless to him. Under such contradictions he grows more interested in mulling over his existence and life in general; he becomes more distant from his wants and lacks, finally he is shown to develop abstract spiritual ideas of his own.
The second segment, needless to say, is more engaging - the Dyer potshots are more subtle though at times gross and unnecessary ( talking goat - a chide at Rushdie and other magical realists). The description of the scape is more detailed, which lingers away as the book progresses. The change to within is well captured, as the protagonist turns more reflective and zany by the page.
At times the book was predictable, at parts needed tighter writing, but generally I liked it. It's in my favourite genre too, if it is one at all: part memoir, part travelogue, and part philosophy without any plot whatsoever. Readers looking for plots are suggested to make an easier choice. I loved both the novellas, each I could personally relate to: hedonistic frivolity of the west and the silent fatalism of the east. The book draws its title from the old Thomas Mann classic – Death in Venice - a novel that also deals with the same themes of life and death but with somewhat greater intensity.
This is a love it or hate it sort of a book. I get a feeling that goes for Dyer as a writer too. Once you finished the book it’s not hard to see why Dyer chose to weave in the two cities as a part of a book. In essence, the book is about these two cities, their similarities and contradictions. Both are very distinct cities – literally poles apart yet very similar. Varanasi being symbol of the abstractness of Hindu philosophy while Venice an international art hub of sorts. Both attract travellers but for totally different reasons.
Venice isn’t as detailed as Varanasi in the book, but I still suppose, it’s fair to say that the book is a charming tribute to both the cities, a sort of testimonial that makes you run to them the very next holiday. I haven’t been to Varanasi but I already feel I know a lot about it. I’ve even been googling hotel Ganges View.
Review pending, but just wanted to say I was slightly let down by the ending. It lost a star because Damon couldn't ignore the typical novelist's urgeReview pending, but just wanted to say I was slightly let down by the ending. It lost a star because Damon couldn't ignore the typical novelist's urge to somehow tie all the loose ends into an ending. But reality carries on, especially in Africa where reality is more real than elsewhere; as much one can't overlook Africa's past one can't as well impose a desired end point. That's where Naipaul's 'Bend in the River' looms tall over every other book that deals with African themes. Nevertheless, ' Impostor' is a remarkable exploration of fluid identities in post-aparthied S Africa.
As of Damon - What draws me to his writing ? There are no smooth flowing lyrical sentences one often and for some unknown reason, in 21st century, still associates with 'good writing', but it's this grand obsession to record and convey to the reader all the events as they happen, with minimal erosion; it's an invitation to become the character than read about them. For instance,
Reality reassembles by degrees. First the sensation of the outer reaches of his body, and then everything beyond: the bed with its tangled sheets. The woman lying beneath him. The ochre floor splotched with sunlight that comes in through the shutters. And something else. A tiny sound, slowly encroaching. He can't place it, can't work it out. A faintly rushing noise, like wind or blood. An angel, dragging huge wings on the ground.
I swear that my journal or blog is full of such entries - passive and within to without. And, notice the complete irrelevance to conventional punctuation.
The richness of Galgut's prose is in documenting the 'internal mind' of the character, as if the readers' eyes are turned inwards to search for the characters in the book within his own mind than just imagine them exclusive of himself. I wish there was a writer of similar calibre who could explore the Asian 'internal mind' that largely remains unwritten. ...more
Wait, add Galgut, S Africa, some lost history and intense psycholo"Narcissus Goldmund. Romantic Cynic. Idealist Pragmatist.
But that's old, isn't it?
Wait, add Galgut, S Africa, some lost history and intense psychological defence mechanisms. Gem! This is the conflict that goes on almost everyday in my life! Even at this age, flipping between....this and that!"...more
How do you sit down and write a review for a book that deep down you know not just speaks for you but in its own strange way represents you ? Yes! repHow do you sit down and write a review for a book that deep down you know not just speaks for you but in its own strange way represents you ? Yes! represents you, or whatever that is you. You don't, you can't. You sit and close your eyes and let all the thoughts the book evoked within you turn inside your head, one after another like waves crashing on the shore. Some day when the stirring has settled, I will write. I know I will.
For now, all I can say is just that this book has been written makes me somehow feel less weird. That this book exists in its form and content brings a certain peace. This book shouldn't have ended.
Here's an extract:
Jerome, if I can't make you live in words, if you're only the dim evocation of a face under a fringe of hair, and others too, Alice and Christian and Roderigo, if you are names without a nature, it's not because I don't remember, no, the opposite is true, you are remembered in me as an endless stirring and turning. But it is for this precisely that you must forgive me, because in every story of obsession there is only one character, only one plot. I am writing about myself alone, it's all I know and for this reason I have always failed in every love, which is to say at the very heart of my life.
With postmodernism and its offshoots, the term 'culture' has come to lack a shared sense of meaning. We are a generation of abstract politically-correWith postmodernism and its offshoots, the term 'culture' has come to lack a shared sense of meaning. We are a generation of abstract politically-correct vagueness; for all the mulitcultural multiethnic talk, quite simply, no one can clearly define what culture means. From graffiti artists to restaurant critics, people proclaim themselves as cultural critics. In times of such celebrated confusion I think Zadie Smith is an exception and these essays are the proof why. Arguably, she is gifted with one of the most perceptive minds that is in sync with the contemporia, one that makes her write from George Clooney to Spinoza in effortless witty prose. In fact, If I wasn't tired off a long day now, I would go on to argue that Zadie Smith defines the 'culture' of our times more than any other writer alive. Changing My Mind is one of the top five books of the 21st century....more