I wanted to give this three and a half on five butI cant. The mystery wasnt great (It was quite obvious where the story was heading) but this novel acI wanted to give this three and a half on five butI cant. The mystery wasnt great (It was quite obvious where the story was heading) but this novel actually piles on the challeneges on both personal and professional fronts making it quite edge of the seat reading right up to the very end. ...more
Still a good series but I find the quality of plot was poor compared to previous books. I also tend to feel the boks dont resolve as well as they shouStill a good series but I find the quality of plot was poor compared to previous books. I also tend to feel the boks dont resolve as well as they should. ...more
Reading this book was a great experience and the writing and plotting were tighter the second time through though the plot did not surprise me as muchReading this book was a great experience and the writing and plotting were tighter the second time through though the plot did not surprise me as much as the previous book, but I guess I know what to expect. However, its always a lot of fun to get back in touch with Merrily, Jane and Lol. Looking forwards to more! ...more
As you can see, this amazing book has a little bi of everything. I urge everyone who loves crime, and mythology with a hint of dark folklore to checkAs you can see, this amazing book has a little bi of everything. I urge everyone who loves crime, and mythology with a hint of dark folklore to check out these books because they are a LOT of fun. Merrily Watkins is a pretty single mother and a Vicar under the Church of England assigned to the town of Ledwardine. However, under its cheerful facade, there is some real weird stuff going on and as the plot unravels slowly I guarantee you will be quite horrified! This was an excellent if disturbing piece of fiction. However, the plotiing, charactersation and plot are just too good to pass up. Highly recommended. The Brits know how to write crime....more
This was essentially the weakest entry in the Merrily Watkins Series so far. After some excellent plots, helped along by the references to local folklThis was essentially the weakest entry in the Merrily Watkins Series so far. After some excellent plots, helped along by the references to local folklore, ,mythology and ghosts (Which never gets old...trust me) this entry seemed to veer from the established formula (not necessarily a bad thing) if executed well. I wanted to give it 2.5 but goodreads has an annoying whole number rating system. ...more
This was an excellent book. Sensitive, well structured with a surface simplicity of language which belies its complex undertones. Those drawn to thisThis was an excellent book. Sensitive, well structured with a surface simplicity of language which belies its complex undertones. Those drawn to this book because of Harry Potter, please dont expect any of these - Magic, Happy Endings, innocent love. This book is real with real situations and real characters. Its not as much a tragedy as a snapshot of the lives we lead on a daily basis. It really makes you sit back and think for a moment. Read it. ...more
Someone close to me once said - this was praise, mind you - that Django Unchained was so unique because Tarantino had no respect for his audience. HeSomeone close to me once said - this was praise, mind you - that Django Unchained was so unique because Tarantino had no respect for his audience. He made the film in his own messy, unorthodox manner and if you didn't like it - to hell with you. It made a kind of twisted sense. I felt the same when I read this book. Rushdie is writing for himself - not for his audience - and the result is far from wonderful. In fact, its awful. Writing is an inclusive activity. When you write, you want your readers to share your world, see things through your eyes, experience the texture of the tale as intimately as you experience it in your mind. This inclusiveness is something the writer must incorporate into his craft, and is exclusive of any literary virtuosity the writer claims to possess. It takes that extra 10 percent and it makes all the difference. A film, by virtue of its overpowering most of our senses can't help but include the viewer. When I read the Moor's Last Sigh I was pleasantly surprised by its general tone. It wasn't over the top, there was a faint sense of nostalgia, a whimsy that had more to do with the personal setting (Bombay) than with any coherent sense of narrative. I probably shared in his enthusiasm for the tale, included myself, because of my soft spot for the city. The insane final parts of the tale were the least interesting. (I think they were set in Spain...though I might be wrong). There was a thin sliver of an umbilical cord connecting his tale to reality and that made it good enough. Shame, on the other hand is untouched by any of these elements, any of which would have made this lump of schizophrenic parchment at least moderately readable. It isn't overlong (which is a blessing) but it manages to trump even the Ground Beneath Her Feet in terms of boredom, self indulgence and disbelief. Literary gymnastics can only take you so far. The story covers the lives and generations of a large Islamic Family in a fictional Pakistan. Their characters mirror (more or less) the characters of major players in Pakistani political history - Zia ul Haq, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto etc. The main protagonist of the tale is the corpulent Omar Khayyam Shakil, born to three mysterious women out of wedlock and chronically devoid of shame; and his love affair with Sufiya Zenobia, a mentally challenged girl who is the repository of shame for all the main characters of the book. The story follows the rise and fall of their respective fortunes while paralleling the rise and fall of Pakistan itself. The half insane mother of Sufiya - Bilquis, Her father Raza Hyder, her Uncle Iskander Harappa and his wayward nephew Haroun. Arjumand Harappa and her mother Rani, the crazy Mullah Dawood and the three mothers atre all characters who walk onto and off the stage of this novel. Unable to understand the point of this "Oh so erudite" plot? I didnt either. Politics, by virtue of its very nature is rooted in reality. Political dynasties are wonderful microcosms of the rise and fall of human fortunes, jealousy, love, lust for power and money. They are an excellent study of the hypocrisy inherent in religious ideology and the problems with combining religion and state. This could have been an excellent study in human fallibility if only Amitav Ghosh had written it. Rushdie is in love with the concept of magical realism ( not, of course, more than himself). Our hero is born upside down and hence lives life on a perpetual precipice, two of his mothers feign pregnancy to protect the one who really conceived and undergo all the physical symptoms of pregnancy as a result, people go mad, dance around naked, swear, get in the family way, make weird prophecies and hang themselves. A philandering alcoholic wastrel cleans up overnight, a sex starved man becomes more obese the more he abstains from it and loses weight when he has sex, women give birth to twenty seven children and others transform...the list of this kind of nonsense goes on and on. Magical realism and politics are an uneasy mix, the magic and odd situations seem to trivialise the process of nation building to the point where the reader fails to connect. The last 20 pages took me a week to get through. Its like David Lynch, Terry Gilliam and Scheherazade had a love child, who took a good, heavy dose of amphetamines. The out of control plot is broken by random asides and non existent political insight that Rushdie attempts to dish out to his viewer. Winning the Booker does not make you an authority in political history anymore than it makes you capable of spinning a good yarn. Rushdie wrote Midnight's Children and The Moor's Last Sigh at the height of his powers. Most of the books he wrote after that seem to be a blatant attempt to cash in on earlier popularity. They are soppy, heavy handed missives written by a literary giant who obviously has nothing new to say. Your echoes are fading Mr. Rushdie, time to call it a day. One star on five. ...more
Ever heard of Stephen King? He writes about the grotesque. In his books the mundanity of everyday life takes on new and terrifying (sometimes disturbi Ever heard of Stephen King? He writes about the grotesque. In his books the mundanity of everyday life takes on new and terrifying (sometimes disturbing) forms. Clowns kill, telekinetic teenagers go on a puberty fueled rampages, a preacher loses his religion to vampire blood and little boys die. Gunslingers walk the earth, and the black man clicks across the streets of America in his worn out boots. There is death, despair, destruction and the mundane becomes so much more. The mundane...changes.
This gory legacy might make you want to gag. There is no finesse in murder and mayhem, you just send a man into a room full of people and set him loose. Make him kill the weak, the loved and hurt the ones that were already damaged and there you have your murder plot, there you have your horror. Horror is not literature, horror is cheap paperbacks bought by people who want to feel fear, not improve their mind... So shall we make an allowance for Mr. King? Shall we dare call these blood soaked tomes literature? Shall we dare to call his books poignant? Shall we?
We shall. To hell with anyone who says otherwise.
11/22/63 is a masterpiece. It blew me away. Thats the gist of my review. If you want to know why, read on. If not, read this book, come back to this page and nod along with me.
Jake Epping is a 35 year old high school teacher. His best friend, Al Templeton, the wry owner of the local diner seems to sell suspiciously cheap hamburgers and shows up looking 10 years older with an advanced case of lung cancer - a cancer he didn't have the day before. He confides in Jake that behind his diner is a portal to the past, a particular day back in the 60's. Every trip to the past is to the same day and every trip back brings you 2 minutes from the future you left behind. Everytime you go back, the clock is reset. The future is malleable and Al Templeton wants Jake to make one major change - Stop the assassination of JFK.
Jake Epping steps into the past and takes on a new identity. He lands a teaching job some distance away from Dallas and finds the love of his life - Sadie Dunhill. Charged with changing the course of the future, Jake finds that sometimes the past protects itself and changing the course of history comes at a cost. If I made it sound too cheesy forgive me. This book goes above and beyond any description I deign to attach to it. This book is magic.
The premise seems simple enough, a recipe for a lot of time travel derring do like in Back to the Future. What follows is a deliciously complicated novel which seems to sing to you from between the pages of history. And makes you sing along, or, if you prefer it - dance. (You will prefer it, I promise you...)
Though King seems to be most at home with his more colourful fiction - The strange landscape of Rose Madder or the evil in Derry that we witness in IT - there is another layer to his fiction, a more human aspect that seems to struggle to rise above the horrors he paints. I loved it in Dolores Claiborne where a woman tries to right a horrible wrong, I felt the pinch when Childhood loses its innocence and it dawns on the Losers that it is time to grow up, I was enthralled by four children making a harrowing journey to see the dead body of a child in The Body ( or Stand By Me as some people know of it), I shrunk in horror from the corruption of the boy in Apt Pupil, walked the Green Mile with John Coffey and drove into Zihuatanejo right along with Andy Dufresne.
The reason many people don't like his books is simply because he populates his books with raw, real characters, makes them real, makes them walk, talk and reach out to us from the pages and then messes with the wonderful sense of realism with the crazy brand of horror he trades in. The effect is jarring. It was jarring in Salem's Lot, it jarred in IT. It jarred in Under the Dome where I thought King seriously needed to take a break, recuperate and consider turning the ole typewriter in.
And then he wrote this book.
This book is real. The characters seem to leap out of the pages and come alive in King's marvellous prose. He has a knack for communicating local flavour, each character has a distinct manner of speech and the book seems to contain a pocket universe of its own. King (almost) eschews his jarring note of horror and throws himself into writing a book about people, their lives, their loves and the beauty that is life. He celebrates humanity, its evanescence and mourns the steady inevitable passage of time. We are born, we die, we grow old, and this life may not be enough to nurture our capacity to love. This, for King, is our Greatest tragedy and Sadie and Jake our memorable protagonists seem to fight against this inevitability this dropping, flooding all overpowering sand.
King has put in some serious hours of research in to this book and it shows. From the heart stopping prize fight between Tiger and Case to the tension strung date of Kennedy's assassination - King acts as our guide to the 60's where you didn't need a licence to carry a gun, the men wore fedora's and everyone smoked like chimneys, the internet didn't exist and couples lindy hopped their way to love, looked into each other's eyes while dancing to Glenn Miller ,the Cuban Missile crises seemed like the end of the world, where Sadie and Jake meet, fall in love and live...a little. This was a world that made Communist a byword for traitor, where little towns like Jodie flourished, far away from recession and the evils of globalisation.
King weaves you in a wonderful web of nostalgia. Is he a little too earnest about Kennedy's presidency? Yes. Is he a little maudlin about the internet - why certainly. Does he seem to rave about the beauty of the past? Absolutely. Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris convinces us that the beauty of the past, its seeming simplicity, its so called sepia tinted brand of nostalgia is an illusion. King draws us into that illusion, traps us in it and doesn't let us go till the last page.
He also paints a rather sympathetic picture of Lee Oswald. A family man, who seems to have some place in his heart for his beautiful wife and his daughter. A man wrestling with his own personal demons and failing. King seems to blame his overbearing mother in part, and his circumstances but you also realise that being a good man and doing the right thing has nothing to do with opportunity, its a decision yo have to make and live with, and this contrasts with the heavy burden that Jake bears in the end.
Ghosts, ghouls, other dimensions and the chill of the dark seem to pale before the capacity of the human mind for evil. 11/22/63 is also an old fashioned morality tale. It stands out from The Stand where good and evil face off like they always have - in the grand ole style, hands on the holsters, two gunslingers with their fingers on the trigger with Evil having the fastest draw. In this book King goes so far as to question the nature of what actually constitutes doing the right thing, what it costs and if humans would ever be willing to pay the prize. The answer, towards the end of the book does become obvious.
This book does have its faults. Remember the crazy territory of his other books? King can't resist painting signposts to them in this one. Derry, from IT plays a significant role in this book and those who haven't read It might be put off by his obscure references.(Ignore them and read on) There are several weird occurrences towards the end that rob a bit of the punch of the climax. The Yellow Card Man (see what I mean?), the Jimla (never mind...) and the time harmonics (I know I am losing you) are just a handful of them. See them through, stick with this book till the end and your patience will be rewarded. A critic must not gush. Gushing over a book can put people off. A critic must list the good impassively with the bad, and nudge the reader in the right direction. I am gushing now - read this book. I cannot do it justice in a review. I end with two of my favourite quotes from this juggernaut.
"For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this? It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.
It's been a long time since I last read a book by R.K. Narayan. It seems easy, on the surface, to dismiss him as a simplistic writer without a verve fIt's been a long time since I last read a book by R.K. Narayan. It seems easy, on the surface, to dismiss him as a simplistic writer without a verve for language - however, Narayan's books are essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand India and its idiosyncrasies. The Man Eater of Malgudi is a classic R.K. Narayan book - funny, poignant and immensely accessible. If you are a first timer to his work, you couldn't ask for a better book to start with. Nataraj runs a printing press in the fictional town of Malgudi. He lives a quiet, prosperous life and sticks to a lazy semi organised routine in his sleepy town - printing labels for a fruit juice company, pawning off extra work to the "Heidelberg" press next door and discussing politics and poetry with some of his irregulars. Lazy, non competitive and supremely satisfied with his lot in life, Nataraj is content until Vasu arrives. Vasu is everything Nataraj is not - rude, ambitious, and blustering. He proceeds, in short order, to take over Nataraj's attic which he fills with the skins of dead animals for the purposes of taxidermy. He makes Nataraj's press the haunt of various dancing girls and hijacks Natraj's life on a regular basis. When Vasu makes plans for mayhem during a Temple Festival, however, Natraj is drawn into a confrontation that may change his life. The beauty in Narayan's writing is that it is eminently accessible and slice of life. His stories never start with too much fanfare, employing flawed, insecure characters who abandon their values at the first opportunity. Most times, the main character is no paragon of virtue, nor is he or she selfish - they are just - ordinary and this ordinariness and its interaction with an uncertain world is the core concept in most of his books. Despite using Indian colloquialisms and a toned down style of writing Narayan proves you don't need a thesaurus of complex English words or complex sentences to deliver an emotional impact. Harking back to when I first read "The Painter of Signs", the book still resonates in my memory as one of the most perfect and bittersweet books I have ever read. To capture the complexity of emotion and the capacity of the Indian mind to - move on from catastrophes is something Narayan does beautifully. That said, this book is not perfect. I am yet to find an Indian author who doesn't specialise in contrived endings. The ending of this book made me raise an eyebrow for its sheer unbelievability, and, while the quite lazy and out of the blue, the abrupt shift in tone towards the end of the book doesn't gel well with what has come earlier. Overall, The Man Eater of Malgudi is a short, sweet book with the trademark Narayan characters and small town events. It's largely funny, moving in parts and offers a rare glimpse behind the machinery running small town India. However, the ending is contrived, simplistic and frankly lazy, spoiling what was otherwise an extremely enjoyable book. I suggest you read it anyway...more
At first glance The Round House seems to be a halting and uneasy mix of a police procedural and a coming of age story. There are callbacks to To KillAt first glance The Round House seems to be a halting and uneasy mix of a police procedural and a coming of age story. There are callbacks to To Kill a Mockingbird. The first few chapters are riveting. A crime takes place, throwing the lives of all those caught in it into turmoil. However, that is, by far th best part of the book. What comes after is disappointing, and choked with poor character development and allegory so that it almost becomes a parody of Harper Lee's Novel. There is a lack f smooth flow, of linked ideas that compete to form a whole. \Plus, I hate books where there are no quotations and speeches for the characters dialogues. Its azy writing. ...more