He slipped in through the opening, then his mother tucked the flap securely under the mattress. It was strange to say goodnight-Godblessyou through t He slipped in through the opening, then his mother tucked the flap securely under the mattress. It was strange to say goodnight-Godblessyou through the gauze-like material and then listen to her say it. Her voice came clearly, but she looked so insubstantial behind the enveloping veil, far away, beyond his reach, and he was all alone, under the canopy of white, entombed in his mosquito-free mausoleum. It had been such a long journey and he fell asleep.
But that picture. That picture of my mother - locked away forever in my mind: my mother through the white, diaphanous mosquito net, saying goodnight-Godblessyou, smiling, soft and evanescent, floating before my sleepy eyes, floating for ever with her eyes so gentle and kind. That was the way he chose to remember her, when he was eighteen and she was dead.
The WW2 is possibly the most just and heroic war of our times. And the lives of men who took part in it were no less ordinary but I am sure there mustThe WW2 is possibly the most just and heroic war of our times. And the lives of men who took part in it were no less ordinary but I am sure there must have been many who had a lot less to with the heroism and the grandness of it all. They say during the WW1, in the trenches, the soldiers fought boredom as much as they did their enemies. The story of Alan Cope seems to run along similar lines. A young man from California, he joins the war late but hardly sees any action, a close encounter with a drunk fellow soldier with a knife is the closest he gets to harm. And he falls off an attic due to carelessness.
But then there is a war going on for real. His life and those of the people he meets - fellow soldiers, ordinary Germans - are tossed about insignificantly in that great maelstrom. However, he makes lasting friends who change his life (and famous people like Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, Octavio Paz, Truman Capote make their appearance in the most accidental of ways).
The story is beautifully drawn by the author, whom Alan Cope accidentally (yet again!) meets and becomes friends with. I guess there is almost an obligation to depict the horrors of war whenever we talk about it, but there is none of it here anywhere because it is essentially the story of Alan looking back at his life and at the people that he met, the friendships and how they came to shape his life....more
History can be academic and ponderous. Yet, in a genre like historical fiction, try too hard and you will choke the readers with ornate details. ManteHistory can be academic and ponderous. Yet, in a genre like historical fiction, try too hard and you will choke the readers with ornate details. Mantel manages to steer clear of both pitfalls and, with her uncluttered prose, weaves an engrossing tale of a nation in the throes of radical change. At the heart of it stands Thomas Cromwell, a compassionate yet ceaselessly calculating figure, whose loyalty to his king, Henry VIII, is superseded only by that to himself, who helps bring about Henry's unpopular marriage to Anne Boleyn (another ceaselessly calculating figure but not so compassionate) and turns the Christendom upside down in the process. Although this is England in the 1500s, with men and women being burnt at stake for heresy all the time, Mantel does us a great favor by not dabbling in archaisms and gives us dialogues that are sharp and at times, humorous. (I particularly enjoyed the standoffs between Cromwell and Thomas More who is the only figure that stands up to Cromwell and he ends up losing his head.)
By the end of this book, Cromwell, a blacksmith's son, has become perhaps the most powerful man in England and the schism with Rome is nearly complete, the marriage is done and yet, Henry is still without a male heir. As we imagine His Royal Crotch slowly grumbling and setting its sights on another victim, it becomes patently clear that Mantel is not done with her story and the title 'Wolf Hall', which has stood cryptically in the background throughout the story, begins to resonate all the more sinisterly....more
Another one of my movie-inspired reads. It was good to see how true the Coen Brothers had stayed to the original work in both the dialogue and the stoAnother one of my movie-inspired reads. It was good to see how true the Coen Brothers had stayed to the original work in both the dialogue and the storyline. Mattie Ross is an unsentimental and, at times, amusing narrator but her hard-headedness, her sense of morality is remarkable, even scary at times. No one would want to be at the receiving end of her wrath. It can be said that the author well managed to capture in her character 'the true grit' of a young nation, its sense of being in the right and being an instrument of God's justice (and I guess this ethos has carried on right down to our own time)....more
One of the enduring appeals of the story must be the character of Bilbo Baggins. I suppose there is in all of us, like him, a Took (Bilbo's mother) siOne of the enduring appeals of the story must be the character of Bilbo Baggins. I suppose there is in all of us, like him, a Took (Bilbo's mother) side that is adventurous and daring, that will send us in search of treasures and bring us face to face with dragons. And there is a Baggins side, that yearns for home when out on a journey, that would like nothing more than being out in one's garden and sipping tea. It is the constant interplay of these two sides that makes Bilbo such a remarkable and likable figure.
Of course, there's also the wizard Gandalf, the wise old friend and philosopher we all wish we could have, who's got Bilbo's back and lots of nasty characters like orcs and wolves and wargs (and Gollum!)
I wish I had read the book before the movies came out, but then if I hadn't seen the movies in the first place, I would not have picked up the book....more
The city of Dublin must have been very dear to Joyce's heart. He must have acutely felt its pulse and the rhythm of the lives of its inhabitants. TheThe city of Dublin must have been very dear to Joyce's heart. He must have acutely felt its pulse and the rhythm of the lives of its inhabitants. The stories here are rich in detail, woven together in delicate and polished prose. As Joyce paints a stark and unsentimental picture of the Dubliners, the impression one gets is of a city and a people trying to break free in some ways but not really succeeding. And I don't think, in the end, this is specific to Dublin alone. These vignettes from the lives of a people could be true of any city in the world, if only one were to cast such a penetrating and honest look inwards as Joyce.
The standout story is 'The Dead' which I have read a number of times over the years and has never failed to move me. Joyce's handling of the fleeting and delicate human emotions is truly remarkable and is really a service to our kind. Be that as it may, I feel this is the furthest I can go with Joyce at the moment. I have bad memories of reading 'A Portrait.. ' and not understanding a thing. I shall continue to smell the pages and furtively feel the spine of copies of 'Ulysses' and 'Finnegans Wake' whenever I come across them....more