29 December 2009

Dec 2009 - Book 6 - An American Brat

An American Brat , by Bapsi Sidhwa
    Story of Feroza, a pakistani teen who is being unduly influenced by the political tension in the country..or so her mother thinks..and she is sent off to America to her 'Uncle' , who is actually only about 6 years older - as it goes in Indian/pakistani families.. so she comes to America for 3 months and stays back encouraged by her uncle..gets into school and experiences the student life with all its ups and downs..
Whereas her Uncle goes back home and marries a girl from Parsi community as expected, Feroza falls in love with a 'non' which brings her mom and all her melodrama to America...
Its a good, somewhat formulaic and dramatised but realistic account of Parsi pakistani family ..
Rating - 5/10
" No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance "  Confucius

22 December 2009

Dec 2009 - Book 5 - Daddyji

Daddyji , by  Ved Mehta 
Ved Mehta writes about his father and by extension, biography of his family thru older generations..how the family starting from a very humble beginning go on to achieve great success ..how filial duty is respected and withheld..
It started very interestingly but fizzled out later because it just became account of events and people..there is no in-depth character building even of Daddyji, the protagonist of the book..his activities are provided in detail..but not his thoughts..I was intrigued by his expectations of his wife and the non-realization but that is not given the space it should've..
 I am interested in Ved Mehta's writing because of his interesting personal story..as excerpted from this article .. 
    By any standard, Ved Mehta is a literary phenomenon of our times. He lost his vision when he was four years old. He did his schooling in institutions for the blind. He had as full a life as anyone of his age. He was an active member of the RSS during his years in Lahore. He went on to Oxford, then to Harvard and finally on the staff of the New Yorker for 33 years. He is the author of 24 books. Among the many awards he won is the Guggenheims and the MacArthur Fellowship.  
Rating - 5/10
"Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness."   Hellen Keller 

17 December 2009

Dec 2009 - Book 4 - The White Queen

The White Queen, by Phillippa Gregory
Philipa Gregory writes about Elizabeth Woodville and her rise and fall from the throne of England..Royalty is where we think grace is, honor is..but the picture presented here is anything but that..Elizabeth gets married to the King Edward in secret ceremony but manages to hold on to the promise and ascends to the Queendom of the kingdom...Narrated by Elizabeth herself this is a very coarse language and lot of suspicion, battles, fights and murders everyday which I sortof skipped over..she conveniently ignores all her husbands wrong-doings against her and people in general and keeps on working on advancing her family members and friends..the highest form of favoritism works here..some intriguing angle is added by the mysticism/witchi-cism inherited from the water goddess Melusina (Little mermaid reference) .. Overall a fast paced but inelegant read..
I caught up on the history after her time and its interesting..start of the Tudor kingdom and end of Yorkists..
Rating - 5/10
"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain

12 December 2009

Dec 2009 - Book 3 - The Bride

The Bride, by Bapsi Sidhwa
Bapsi Sidhwa writes about a city girl given to marriage into a tribe with their tribal ways and rituals , pride and honor .. she runs away from them and is hunted by the tribe to be punished/killed for her transgression..there are several bylines in the story and the partition of India is mentioned along with the displacement of people and the resulting dissonance of belonging and not belonging to a place..
There is another byline about this american "nobody" who marries a pakistani rich guy and her experience assimilating with him and his family and the society in Pakistan..
Rating - 6/10
"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain

Dec 2009 - Book 2 - The parasites

The parasites , by Daphne Du Maurier
The Delaneys - people whom no-one would like to be stranded with..Maria , Celia , Niall - children of charismatic dancer and singer duo . They live an enchanted life, following their parents all over the world , before a tragedy shakes them apart...some bonds remain as strong as ever..Maria and Niall , Celia and her father ..Maria and Niall have this deep relationship bordering on incest but never explicit..Celia uses the pretext to take care of her father to not really think what she wants out of her life..Maria marries someone just to be 'Mrs Wyndaham' but of course she has none of the wifely demeanor to play that role and neither does she knows to raise her children..Celia does..and thus they have all these inter-mingled and parasitic lives where they live off each other..but Charles breaks off and asks for a divorce..which leads them to think back on what went wrong..and when ..and why..
The narrative is in 2nd person but we never know who actually is narrating it and I think its different in each chapter..it adds to the intrigue ..
Rating - 7.5/10
"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps

Dec 2009 - Book 1 - The Girls

The Girls, by Frederick Busch
A couple dealing with loss of their child...Franny trying to understand what happened and why and growing distance with her husband , Jack who loves his wife very much and hurting for the baby too...tries to find some validation by becoming involved in a teenage murder investigation..
I liked the character of the pyshiatrist who tries to help them , almost like a guardian angel or a watchful mother..
Prose style is very sparse but all characters are etched out very deeply
Rating - 7/10
"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges