Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Walk to remember

Author : Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks has the knack to make you weep, and I laughed and wept as much as he wanted me to. How can a story  told so many times create a feeling of originality ? A good author can rewrite any story and still maintain the originality. And no doubt, Nicholas Sparks is one among them.

The story set in 1950 is about innocence ,friendship and love between Landon Cartor and Jamie Sullivan.Landon Cartor is a richie rich, easy going, seventeen year old guy in the suburban North Carolina. And then there is Jamie Sullivan, Landon's classmate,  the daughter of  the old Priest who hates the Cartor family. Landon hates him no less than the Priest. According to Landon, the Priest is so old and frail that one could see the other side of his body if not for his clothes. That they live in the same neighborhood doesn't help much.

Jamie is devoted to God, animals, and orphans in no particular order. For her, everything happens because the Lord wishes so, and she carries her mother's Bible tightly clutched with her all the time. The Bible is the only memory of her mother who died giving birth to her. She's not one of Landon's cool friends, in fact she has no friends at all. She's what they a call a loner, but a cheerful loner according to Landon.

For some good reasons, Jamie and Landon becomes friends in their final year of school, and Landon walks her home most of the days. Jamie takes him to orphanage, and makes him do things that he never did all his life. On Christmas, she gifts him her mother's Bible, the one she always carried with her.She gave it because she knew that soon she would have no use for it, for her days are numbered. Their friendship turns out to be short lived, for she has no plans to outlive her thin skinned father.

Landon does everything in his power to save her. But with the technology available in the '50's there was no way to save her from her medical condition, all roads are closed except a miracle. And then Landon does something unheard, unbelievable, and unthinkable. Landon's action makes him a hero, and that is where the book is different from many other stories written in the same lines. Does the miracle happen ? Will Jamie Survive? Or can Landon overcome his feelngs for Jamie ?
It is not the question of miracle that the book answers, but it about hope and belief. Hope that everything that has happened is for good , and belief that whatever future holds is for good.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bachelor of Arts

Author: RK Narayan

Chandran is a worried man; his role as a prime mover against history is a difficult one, more so since he is a student of  History. He manages it, just to attract further responsibilities in his final year of Bachelor of Arts degree.

With the exams looming, Chandran somehow manages to waste his time promenading the banks of river Sarayu, roaming around with his friend Ramu, charting a time table for his study plan, then making changes to it according to his new responsibilities at college, and then making further changes to catch an early morning flower thief.

The thief turns out to be a Sadhu, an early riser who thought disturbing anyone so early in the morning is far sinner than picking up flowers without their knowledge. He has no worries, and he is left off after Chandran's mother makes it clear that flowers are for God's worship and it doesn't matter how it reached God.

The hard worker Chandran is, he manages to complete his exams without further problems. At twenty two, his life takes a turn on one of his usual walk on the banks of river Sarayu. Cupid strikes him, and he immediately conveys his marriage proposal to his father. The girl, a fifteen year old is unaware, though her age is over the marriageable age in a pre-independent India.

His father makes arrangement through a broker, and it turns out that their horoscopes doesn't match. Horoscopes, dowry, caste, status are some of the few obstacles in any Indian marriage. Chandran is adamant, for he could not think of anything but the girl, and does everything in his power to convince the girl. The societal limitations in a village preventing him from meeting her privately any cost. Chandran's loves fizzles out, the girl never meets him even once, and soon is happily married to her relative.

Soon after the girl's marriage , Chandran leaves to Madras for a change. He does not meet their uncle, but settles in a lodge in Egmore, and roams around Broadway with an acquaintance . After a confrontation with a whore, he leaves Madras to anywhere the train will carry him. He decides to become a Sadhu, for he is too scared to attempt suicide and far scared to live further with his lost love.

He roams around villages without a shirt, eating and sleeping on charity, and the wonderful land that India is, he becomes a Sadhu of the highest order, fed and pampered by a village which hadn't been visited by a holy man in the recent past. After enjoying for a brief period, Chandran began to feel awkward, and often guilty of cheating the villagers. What is he going to do ? Attempt suicide ? Runaway from the village? Or return to Malgudi where his lost love would haunt him forever.

It is not in anyway a moving story, but as with all R.K.Narayan books, it is more about people and their petty problems. What happens if we were to chose to become a Sadhu for every problem we face, after all 'being a Sadhu is not so easy as it sounds' says RKN. Wonderful read.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Author: Mark Haddon

Such a long title for a book, and that for a book from the view point of a fifteen year old autistic kid. But the title epitomizes the entire book, the book is more about details and emotions than story.

This book is about Christopher John Francis Boone , a fifteen year old boy who when asked about his age replies that he's 15 years and 283 days old. He knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057, and even the chapters are arranged in the order of prime numbers since this is his notes on an investigation.

He attempts to investigate the murder of his neighbour's dog , but then he has a problem. And the problem is a hard one to tackle, he cannot talk to strangers nor is he allowed to travel alone. Strangers frighten him, and his medical condition stimulates and overwhelms him when there are too much details in front of him.

How does he go out to a world that he never knew? He questions everything, and his curiosity definitely leads us on to his world ,all new world, the world of a curious boy. And boy, he makes us think. Think hard.

Might as well learn more about prime numbers, and enjoy a wonderful character that will hang on to you days after you finish it. Highly recommended for anyone seeking a book that can keep you hooked until you finish it. Not just another book, but a book that will teach you something more than a page turner.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Anything for you Ma'am

Author: Tushar Raheja

When my friend gifted this book to me two months ago, I thought I got hold of a book that was everywhere around me. Most of the book shops had this on their Indian writing section, and all the pavement book sellers had a pirated copy, a girl in red salwar on a sky blue background asking every passer by to pick it up. Just a bit of curiosity about a book on the IIT phenomena, IITian turned author genre.

I didn't exactly love this book, but this could have been a script for a bollywood romantic comedy genre than a novel. There are too many coincidences, and though I agree that coincidences does happen in real life , the way in which those coincidences crop up every now and then makes it a bit unreal. Especially the part where three IITians meeting up in train and they get adjacent seats in the same compartment. This could happen in real life, and such things has happened for everyone, but for me the way it was treated felt a bit made up. Fiction is not about making up a story from incidents, is n't it is more about making the reader relate and accept the fiction as a possible reality.

For me, being from south of India, it is hard to differentiate a Sardarji from another, unless they are absurdly different both horizontally and vertically. A Sardarji too might be confused when faced with a similar looking South Indians. Whatever be it, it is hard to digest that a policemen can take a random Sardarji for a dacoit, and a bald dacoit in that. Just to create tension ?

The tone of the book, the patronizing tone with a lot of inspiration from P.G Wodehouse and early writers may not go down well with everyone. Some of the dialogues are extremely dull, and pathetically artificial. I might be too harsh on the book, but this book is definitely not for someone who has already read a lot books , for they may feel a bit let down.

The bottom line is that though the book makes a valiant effort in portraying the predicaments of a young romantic, it falls desperately short of realism by a long way. A dull train journey.