Posts tagged ‘reviews’

Love in the Time of Cholera

This is a book I had wanted to read for a long time, without knowing anything about it. I just knew it was one of the classics and that was reason enough for me to want to read it.

A few years back, someone I knew heard I wanted to read it, and offered it from their own collection. The offer was prefaced with, ‘don’t buy it. I have it, take it from me. You may like it, I don’t know, but I didn’t. It doesn’t make much sense’ or something similar.

I finally didn’t take up the offer, and the book went somewhere to the back of my mind. Sometime last year, I was bored, bookless, and looked up books online. One of the first ones I stumbled across was an ecopy of ‘love in the time of cholera’. I downloaded it, read a few pages, read the blurbs about it. It didn’t seem that fascinating so unread it remained. Then recently, while waiting to catch up with someone, I decided to browse a bookshop nearby. There, on top of one of the book stacks, was a copy of this book. I picked it up and bought it, reasoning that it deserved another chance; since there have been only a few books that I have started but not completed reading. After that, it languished on my book stack for a long while ‘coz the initial pages seemed desultory and rambling and the writing prosy. Taken up, kept down, forgotten, this book seemed destined to be an addition to my never-completed list.

After that, I do not know what changed, but the next time I picked it up again, I realized within a few pages that this time it would not remain unread. I picked it up whenever I could, pored over a page or two. The language which seemed prosy earlier now seemed rich and  redolent of the colours of the region the book is based in (which incidentally I could not figure out at all, it was just not Spain was all I could get).

The book is as meandering as the river it is based on, but just as true to its course. It starts off from uncertain and unrelated sources and seems to wander over a vast plain and get lost occasionally. This will not appeal to you, if you like your books and stories to make sense, or to be fast paced, or to be leading somewhere. This book will not lead you anywhere concrete, but the reading of it, the journey covered while meandering is enriching. It does not attempt to justify its protagonists, in fact, you will be hard put to tell who the protagonists are. Is it the stern but social and popular Dr Urbino, or the morally weak but emotionally true to his love Florentino, or the undecipherable and seemingly selfish Fermina? It does not attempt to include plot sequences or racy scenes into its narrative. At no point will you feel your heart racing for the characters, nor will you feel impatience to know what happens next for the characters. It all unfolds slowly, maybe, sometimes even sluggishly.

One of the blurbs on the back of the book reads ‘An amazing celebration of the many kinds of love between men and women’. I will not be able to describe this book any better. This book won’t take you places, nor will it open your mind to vistas unknown. However, the reading of it might open your thinking up to human emotions and their frailty, their intangible but solid presence, to the interaction between people, to the conventions of society which are unchanging even though the book is set in a time and place distant from now.

I am glad I didn’t borrow this book from someone, it’s most certainly a keeper. Having read and fallen in love with its English translation, I am sure the original Spanish version will be much more rich, much more exquisite to read. Time to pick up my Spanish lessons again, if for no other reason than to read this book in its original avatar.

To leave you with the last line –

Florentino Ariza had kept his answer ready for fifty-three years, seven months, and eleven days and nights.

“Forever,” he said.

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G.R.A.V.I.T.Y.

Someone might write, or may have already written, why this is THE must watch movie for this year, so what the heck, here’s my own compilation of ten unbeatable reasons you should watch Gravity and be awed by it. You don’t find me glorifying a movie, any movie, too often so when I do, you better sit up and take notice.

1) The 3D visuals. There’s a reason they are top of the list.
2) The tight editing. There are promising movies that somehow go overboard. And others which are tightly reined in, keeping you on the edge of your seat, hand to your sliently ‘O’ed mouth.
3) Sunrise over the earth. And countless other shots of Earth seen directly, indrectly, in visor reflections, through port holes, you name it. The blackness of space. The silence. The gravity and lack of it. The constellations. The ‘night’ sky. Essentially, all things space-y.
4) Matt Kowalsky’s sense of humour. Whoever dreamt up that guy and gave him dialogues and breathed life into his character deserves nothing less than an Oscar. Make that 10 oscars. Goerge Clooney might have been wasted in that role, but hey, you can’t imagine anyone else doing that role with such panache either.
5) Sandra Bullock. And her awesomely fit body. The guys can go drool over her and we women can all sigh and hope to attain that perfection. What. a. body. Although, too bad Clooney didn’t get to show off any.
6) When Sandra B gets cut adrift. When George C gets cut adrift. When things don’t get cut adrift.
7) How much you root for Dr. Ryan Stone to get back and get out alive, until the very very end.
8) Sharrif going very very briefly “Mera joota hai japani”. Genius touch, though invisible and unapparent to the non Indians out there.
9) The fire extinguisher scene. It is just genius the way the extinguisher is used, and you totally don’t see it coming. If I told you more I’d have to erase your memory and that would make this list totally pointless, wouldn’t it?
10) The visuals. Unless you are a multi gazillionaire, this is the closest you will come to getting into space.

Expecting someone taller

Book review time.

This was apparently Tom Holt’s first humorous fantasy novel (Dewdette, love, did I ever thank you for introducing me to T.H. ?). I was about to insert a wiki link here for the plot synopsis, but desisted. You may search and go read it if you wish, but I wouldn’t advise that; it’s too cut and dried an article and doesn’t do justice to the book.

T.H. writes humorous fantasy in a way reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse’s. While PGW never wrote fantasy (that I know of. He did supposedly write romantic fiction once upon a time, go figure!), what is similar is the madcap way of story telling. Odd notions and implausible events tangle with each other and form a thick knot. The characters stop, meander, think, stop thinking and generally create a ruckus in their own lives. Yet the author manages to unravel it all in the end to general satisfaction (and that includes the characters’ satisfaction too)

As this doesn’t seem like a book review so far, here’s a little bit of the plot to keep the fastidious readers’ happy. An average guy who has never excelled at anything in his life and has been overlooked and ignored by the world and his family for ever suddenly becomes the master of the world. Worse, it’s an unrecognized job as no one he knows, knows that he is responsible for the world’s well / ill being. How he manages the world and resolves his love life and other nasties is what this is all about.

The badger twisted its head painfully round, and looked at him in silence for a while. “You know,” it said at last, “I was expecting someone rather taller.”
“Oh,” said Malcolm.”Fair-haired, tall, muscular, athletic, without spectacles,” went on the badger. “Younger, but also more mature,if you see what I mean. Someone with presence. Someone you’d notice if you walked into a room full of strangers. In fact, you’re a bit of a disappointment.”

Reco : Go read if you like humorous fantasy and brit humour.