Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami

                                  Men without women is a collection short stories of, lets face it men without women. They revolve around the lives of men who has been left out without women; some willingly chose it and some by the hand of fate. What is common among them are the fact that they all eventually lose their women and as Murakami finally concludes “When you have lost one women, you have lost them all”; they lose it all.

                                  These are stories that are daunting and that linger on after the first read; some even demand a greater look and some leave a lingering sense of incompletion. For most part no story here is complete; the author demands of us the effort to conclude them and that is ofter frustrating as many of  these stories demand and extract an emotional connect.

                                 Of the half dozen stories here, a few stood out to me as a reader here. “Drive my car” the first of the stories revolves around a actor who hires a female driver to chauffeur him around and confides in her the tragic marriage of his and his friendship with his wife’s suitor after her death. “Scheherazade” which depicts one day of a man and his married mistress, and the subtle yet lovely exchange between them one day (This one left me wanting more).

                                  Murakami has a way of extracting different emotions of different people and that has always ended up dividing his readers quite deeply in factions; and these stories are no different, some scream misogyny and some see beauty.

Verdict : These stories and nevertheless beautifully crafted and eases the reader through the pages and elicits deep emotions. deciphering Murakami is a profession and that for another man to take up, for me they are beautiful and lovely.

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The Golden House – Salman Rushdie

The Golden House – Salman Rushdie

                        Disappointed, thats is the short and long of it. Coming from Salman Rushdie,  The author of  books like Haroun and the Sea of Stories and The Midnights children, The Golden house was expected to excite and entice; it was as his books before expected to be a delight to read and unfortunately the opposite seems to be true. This book required an laborious effort to consume and an undue tenacity to finish. I believe like  all Salman was compelled to comment on the current socio-political state of affairs both home and abroad, but this books in hindsight appears to be a bad outlet for such a social commentary. A short concise series of editorials would have served a better purpose. Unfortunately this is what Slaman chose and I feel this attempt has failed both as a book and as a social commentary (coming from a lesser author may be an argument can be made but not from The Salman Rushdie).

 

                        The Golden house is the story of Nero Golden and his children seen through the eyes of René, an young film maker, set in a an exclusive private garden in lower Manhattan. The goldens are altruistic people with pretentious roman names, eccentric in their own way and always running from something or the other, a dark past, some shady business, sexuality and often life and truth itself. The characters are eccentric in an half -hearted attempt at mimicking the flamboyance of The Great Gatsby but as a recurring theme in this book; failing (if not miserably, then convincingly so).

               There are some genuine spaces when Rushdie comes on to being his old self, when words start flowing with a forgotten vigor, when prose tends to be poetic and beautiful more so. But as mirages in a hot midday desert, they are fleeting and ephemeral.

Verdict : If this is your first foray into Rushdie’s works I suggest you start elsewhere, if not then I suggest elsewhere as well. You lose nothing by not reading this book and if you dont read the Rushdie you know and love would shine a bit brighter.

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Book Review : Bubble Wrap by Kalyani Rao

“A daring attempt to depict an overwhelmingly evil, male chauvinistic society”

The “Bubble Wrap” is more than anything, the author’s way of coping up with a society that refuses to see women as a living-breathing equivalent of its male counterpart. The praise for the book lies for a daring attempt to depict an overwhelmingly evil, male chauvinistic society. This is the story of Krishna and Gudiya as they try to escape a life that the malevolent society imposed on them. She succeeds in reminding us of the dilapidated society that we unfortunately live in.

As Krishna and Gudiya go through one life-changing event after the other, they come to terms with the misnomer that they thought to be the world around them. The whole of their dreams and mental depiction of reality pop with the ease of a bubble wrap as the truth slowly perforates into them. They realize that all that they have is themselves in this world and realize that most people around them have intentions that are seldom benign. As the plot thickens, the noose around them tightens and they decide to sacrifice everything that they have and own in a desperate attempt to escape the world that is coming down on them fast. They risk it all on this one final plight of theirs.

The daring in Miss Kalyani Rao’s intent is but sadly missed in her narration, which for reasons unknown is unfairly biased against the men in this world. Her depiction of men in her universe caters to the hysteria of a world of unruly evil hearted goons. She forgets to feed the reader with reasons for her characters actions and never hints at the provocations for their malevolence, in this unfortunate world of hers the status quo is that all men are by nature sex-adicts, pedophiles or evil pimps. She forgets to support her characters with stories that reinforce their actions.

The huge gap in narration left by Kalyani makes the world of character that she has created act out of character, many times without rationale. Added to this is the obvious grammatical mistakes left out by her editor. Not to mention the fact that some of the major characters in her story makes but only what can be called a passing cameo, for instance the husband of Krishna who makes himself present for hardly a few lines in a few pages. Afterwards he vanishes forever, never to be spoken off again. So happens to be the case with many characters, they are lost or forgotten in the course of narration.

The most bewildering part of this book was the snapshots of Krishna’s diary sprinkled around the book. I for some reason could gain nothing, nor device the reason for its existence in the book. They neither add to nor deduct form the story, they are just there for the sake of them being there. They have made me wonder why they exist many times, they still do long after I have finished the book.

But that being said the book is not half as bad as my last few paragraphs portrays it to be. The narration is good enough to keep you rooted to the story and keep the page turning without much effort. The twists that the story contains were a pleasant surprise most of the time and the ending was the biggest surprise of all. This book is a good companion for one of the many short journeys of yours. You will be fine as long as you shy away from asking questions.

Book Review : Redemption by Karen Kingsbury

“The perfect travel companion, blissfully light and engaging”.

Redemption by Karen Kingsbury is the first in the Redemption series, A trilogy revolving around the Baxter family, a highly religious and orthodox family living in Bloomington, Indiana. Redemption, the first book in the series redemption revolves around Kari Baxter. When Kari Baxter finds out that her husband, Tim Jacobs a college professor who is having an illicit affair with his understudy, her whole world falls apart. She is further devastated when he asks for a divorce. The much distraught Kari takes to religion and its echelons to save her and her marriage from this crisis.

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Redemption is the story of betrayal and as the name of the book gives away ‘redemption’, Karen reiterates that the troubles of Kari are not enough reason to throw away a otherwise perfect marriage away and that marriage like all relationships require care and effort. Redemption is by far Karen’s effort to convince the reader that even perceivably devastating betrayals in marriage can also be forgiven and a that a stronger marriage can at times be redeemed from these ashes.
Karen builds up a fairly elaborate family, each member with their own problem and in midst of her narrative she occasionally takes a detour to ramp the reader up on the background stories of the rest of the Baxter. Even then she forgets many main characters and fails to build them up, unfortunately they just remains as names and references. The most unforgivable of those is the story of Angela, Tim’s lover. Even though she is central to the story she is conveniently forgotten. The story and its over reliance on religion and not on reason and the fact that the very story that is central to the book, the story of how the reconstructs their broken marriage is ill developed and leaves gapping holes and enormous in-continuity in the narration.
Otherwise the 360 odd page page-turner is a fairly light read, its one book that could keep you company during a short journey and would provide you with reasonable amount of entertainment. It however doesn’t reach up-to the authors reputation of being an inspirational masterpiece.

Available at : Amazon.in
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The Rise of the Sun Prince – Shubha Vilas

The Rise of the Sun Prince by Shubha Vilas is essentially the part one (Bala Kanda) of the indian scripture Ramayana as written by the sage Valmiki, mixed with a few anecdotes and embellishments from the Kamba Ramayana (another version of the sacred text). I am not here to write a commentary on the scripture, it has been returned way too many times. As far as my review of Ramayana goes I will just for a line from this book. “Ramayana is not a book, it is a way of life”.
Unlike the numerous renditions of the epic out there, what makes this one stand out is a set of essential yet simple qualities. The book is simple yet elaborate, the story is decomposed just enough for the casual reader to understand and yet it is sophisticated enough to prevent itself from being turned into yet another soulless recital. Vilas has added more than enough description and commentary to the age old tale that at times it’s just annoying to see the sheer volume of his commentary wrestling out the epic out of it’s own pages.
The story is retold with much detail and sans boring rhetoric. This is not a book for serious and concerned study of Ramayana, but it is all you would want if the aim is to reread the fables or just to tell your kids the famous bedtime story of India. This is the book that you could want your children to read if you want them to be part of that wonderful world of kings, queens and the many many adventures that you were once part of.
This book comes with a rather colorful front- page and spills on to about 250 pages. Jaico does a good job with the packaging and delivers the content for a sum of 250 Indian rupees (that’s hardly 4 dollars and odd cents). yep books in India are rather cheap. My verdict is that it’s a good book to have for your kids to read and for you to casually brush up the story.
Disclaimer : The above review of The Rise of the Sun Prince by Shubha Vilas has been written in association with Jaico Publishing House. 

Navigate by Norman Vincent Peale

“The best thing to do id to get healed of negatives in life, become filled with faith” hence goes the words by Dr Peale as it appears n the introduction of the book and that exactly is the purpose and vision of the book. He seeks to replace the negativities in life with a positive outlook through the medium of prayer and faith. Dr Peale was a minister by occupation and this has aided him in bearing witness to the many sufferings there is and as he himself states that the sheer volume if published as a book could be consider as the account of all human suffering. This very aspect of his occupation has also helped him witness many miracles and has shown him what the human spirit can achieve ones it is determined to so so. This book is a guide to help realize that potential.

That being said one of the greatest back-draws that I experienced when reading the book was also culminating from the fact Dr Peale was a minister and that his proximity to his religion and its intricacies. The book is full of references to Bible, anecdotes, events and stories from the Bible and the christian religious world view. Now I don’t mean to say that the book is a christian doctrine, but any person totally unaware or illiterate of the christian world view would find it hard to comprehend and fully appreciate the wisdom of Dr Peale. 

Peale at length talks about the importance of faith and the power and potential of the human spirits and all the chapters in the book is directed towards discovering that potential and that faith. He asks for unflinching faith and he preaches of the enormous life altering strength that is dormant in every one of us. he seeks to liberate that strength by means of prayer and faith. He believes and with the aid of several examples from his life and the ones he touched emphasizes on to the reader this belief of his.

The whole essence of the book can be found in the phrase “Be filled with love and faith” and he prophesies that all your vows will be gone once that is achieved. The book is an excellent guide to any one who finds himself in a doldrum and seeks to escape that impasse. Once you are willing to look deep into the elements of christianity in this book and seek out its meaning and why he choses to use it, this becomes and excellent guide but even without that all you have to do look beyond them and the book will serve its purpose, and will help navigate you through your life.
In association with Jaico Publishing House

Aisle be Damned by Rishi Piparaiya

Rishi Piparaiya has truly outdone himself and has shown himself to be a master of satire. He has shown great care and acute observational skills in picking the most annoying and embarrassing of things that happen in one’s day to day exchange with the airport and it’s queer inhabitants and projected them in a hilarious and thoroughly entertaining way. He has given an whole new outlook to the things that happen in and out of an airplane. Seriously who would have thought that my missing jacket was actually stolen by the Italian mafia. 
Rishi uses a delicate and simple style of writing to convey his story and that too with an even flavor of humour and satire. There is a chance that his sense of humour, predominant his style of humour would come across as slapstick to some but it is undeniable that he got a suave way of making his readers laugh. Anyone who has ever been on a flight and anyone who has seen the way the various quirks of the aluminium tube that flies will find it interesting and can relate to it seamlessly. It is just an understatement to say that Rishi has outdone himself.
They book though randomly satirical, is not random at all in organization. The book is neatly edited and organized as in the order of which the events would occur in an actual flight, from take off to landing and this differentiate ‘Aisle be damned’ from a regular book of jokes and into a humorous page turner. I will though advice the ones who have not flown to keep away, you don’t need to add to your aviatophobia do we and secondly most jokes would appear to be tasteless and blown up to a person who is unaccustomed with such an environment as an airport. 
But for everyone else this is hilarious and light hearted, and would make your stomach hurt from laughing. I personally found the beginning and end to be rather bland and tasteless in nature as compared to the rest of it. I give the book a ‘good’ status and recommend it exclusively for all fliers, frequent and otherwise. The swaying hips awaits… *chuckle*
In Association with Jaico Publishing House.