Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Strange Library

- Haruki Murakami (Translated by Ted Goossen)

Strange library looks like a love child of coffee table book and a pop-up greeting card. The book is is just fifty odd pages with bizarre illustrations and large font text. That is where the associations end. With coffee table books and usual Murakami stories. Of course this book has a weird story, unique characters, surreal environment, suspended reality and all that. But there are no references to music, no puzzling women, clueless men or cats.

This story is about a teenage boy imprisoned in the bowels of a library by a wicked old man who orders the boy to memorize three fat books on Taxation of Ottoman empire or else face a terrible destiny. A man dressed in sheep ( you may know the sheep man from Wild Sheep Chase) takes care of the boy when he is in the prison and a young beautiful girl brings him food. Both of them are hapless prisoners themselves, their situation much more desolate than our hero.

Whatever happens next, did the boy trick the old man and escape? Did he succumb to the fate and stay in the library? You don't have to wait for long to know, the book would end in a few pages. This leaves very little room for character development, internal monologues and philosophies but the book doesn't fail to make an impact.

Libraries looked normal and boring till now, but I wonder what mysteries it has been hiding from me?

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Last Girlfriend on Earth and Other Love stories

The Last Girlfriend on Earth

and Other Love Stories by Simon Rich

I was tired of looking for that elusive book which had romance in it, but didn't make you gag at the same time. It must have some funny moments, must provoke some warm fuzzy feelings and must steer clear of stereotypes. 

Most of the books start out with good humor, but turn philosophical and dragging when the author gets a sudden conscience to make their characters grow.
I have not grown in twenty years, I don't think I will mature and become all philosophical in 300 pages. Neither would I find the 'perfect' love and have the world stop for me then and there. Life isn't like that.

Other books take a deep dive emotionally and gets way too serious until the author throws in some humor like bacon bits over an ice cream. Again - gagging.

The Last Girlfriend on Earth is about every aspect of love, the falling in love, the hesitant proposal, the long wait, the blissful dating, jealousy, insecurities, power struggle, falling apart and breakups.
All the stories are short and to the point, about human interactions when they are exposed to wacky circumstances of love. The best part of a well enjoyed book is to interpret it your own way, without having spelled it out for you, and many of the stories leave you with a lot of avenues to explore.

Each story begins with a novel approach, but this is not a serious book, most of the stories are presented as is, but almost every story tickles our funny bone and some tug our heart unexpectedly. 

I was surprised by the story openings, was surprised that this book approached love stories beyond cliches so much that I finished the book in a single stretch. If you are looking for a different experience on reading about romance, this book is a must read.