Citizen of the Galaxy – Robert A. Heinlein


Aha!! A book review after long time. So, these days I am on a sort of science fiction mode and I had heard a lot about Heinlein in this genre. I thought I will give his works a try and so i read this book about a boy who travels from being a slave to a licensed mendicant to a  free trader to a corps person to being the “Rubdek of Rubdek”. Interesting journey but I dare say that it did not look as interesting in the book. Perhaps I chose the wrong book to begin with because this one did not meet the expectations that were raised by the name of Heinlein. The important issues like black side of corporates and their indirect/direct endorsements of illegal activities, slavery, politics, traditions and spying are taken to intergalactic levels. Space ships are travelling like cars do today. There are hundred planets inhabited by all kinds of creatures, ranging from people t o fraki.

I just found it okay. Nothing very special. However, I would like to note one thing: Science fiction is addictive. I can now barely move to other shelves in the book club and even if I do, I always return to the science fiction rack. It started with Ursula Le Guin, then Connie Willis, then Heinlein, Terry Pratchett in books followed by loads of movies like Star Wars, X Men, Star Trek and now I am a sci-fi fan. Not the die hard and hard core yet but I am.

questions as usual!


The urge to surge high and do something is increasing exponentially day by day but I am lost, unable to decide and pick the direction. I am afraid to pick a road and leave another fearing that it might be the wrong turn that I take. Have become a little risk averse and am not able to sort out the mind of the heart. But the urge is there and it is not to be contained anymore. What do i do? Which way? Where to go?

The World of Nagaraj – R.K. Narayan


R.K. Narayan was always in my good book because he filled my childhood with the pleasurable presence of Swami in the town of Malgudi living a simple life, troubled with simple problems. But after childhood, Narayan disappeared from my shelf and came back again only now.

“The World of Nagraj” is a book filled with simplicity, wit. light fun and tragi-comic situations. At the heart of the story is a feeble, fickle mined, cowardly, day dreaming, always scheming but doing nothing kind of a character, Nagaraj, and the world that surrounds him. The language is as simple as it can be. The narrative structure is linear and slow paced. The book describes the slow life with some of its events which invoke some interest in the life of Nagaraj, his plans to write a book on Narada which never comes to fruition, his thoughts of giving tight replies to his brother and others but never being able to say so. It is all very light and at the same time haunting.

It is the magic of Narayan and the simplicity which is so hard to find these days that one wants to read his novels and envision his town of stories: Malgudi.

One trivia: R.K. Laxman, the cartoonist is his younger brother. I never knew that till today.

Many ( well, not so many, only a few )  people have told me that I shoudl write a book and that is my ambition too. But I have not yet a topic close to my heart. But I am thinking ( like Nagaraj 😛 ) of starting to write about something, anything very soon.

Some feminist reading


This was saved as a draft and completed only today. So one may find the post as relating to a particular past event: the women’s day. 

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Just finished reading two short stories on science fiction and feminism. One is “A Woman’s Liberation” by Ursula K. LeGuin and other is called “Even the Queen” by Connie Willis. Both of them are established and award winning social science fiction writers. Since the International Women’s Day is approaching, it only makes sense that some women specific reading be done to acknowledge the occassion .

Both are strong stories and focus on the physical aspect of womanhood. Whereas “A Women’s Liberation” talks about the sexual act of a woman by desire and not force on a planet of slaves , “Even the Queen” is a humorous take on menstruation and the possibility of its stopping forever by taking some medication.

There is no doubt about the writing abilities of LeGuin and Willis. It is fantastic. “A Woman’s Liberation” is one of the stories of the four stories and I felt that reading the remaining three would have made the reading of ‘a wome…’ better understandable. It needed a little more knowledge of history and  geography of the world which Le Guin had created. She writes social science fiction like no other I have read.

Willis is humorous. The quibbling between the women of all ages and positions, their relating over a common predicament of periods and how they are able to dissuade their youngest adult from joining the “cyclists”. It is all in a light vein on the surface but on a deeper level it touches the exact chord which is the boon/bane of womanhood and raises questions which are pertinent to all women of the world: advanced or not , educated or not, active or not, queen or not :).

So , yeah, it was nice reading.

A room of one’s own – Virginia Woolf


I read this another novel by Woolf and it was lovely yet again. This is about “Women and Fiction” and what exactly, well, you will find out. What has been done, why it has been done, how it should be done ….it is all there about the women, fiction and women in fiction. She describes and establishes the need for sound income and creative independence of women if she was to write fiction. She argues that how women tend to be influenced by men (since always and domination being the kind of influence) and try to write like a man. She says that women should write like a woman. She also says that every human being has both the male and female parts. In a man, the male part dominates and in a woman, the female part dominates. According to the Woolf, the best writers are those who are able to make these forces exist in harmony and write a man-womanly piece/woman-manly piece.

Off course, some people would view it as a feminist writing. But what I see it as is a writing  from female writer about female writers and an excellent one at that.  There are nuggets of wisdom and intelligent statements flowing all the way. I could not help but appreciate Woolf’s way of thinking and writing style. It’s smooth and complex at the same time. No doubt she is one of the best writers of all time.

I am growing to like her works very much.

Agnes Grey – Anne Bronte


Anne Bronte is the youngest of the Bronte literary family. Agnes Grey is her autobiographical novel about her life as a governess. Much like the Victorian era novels, the reader is given the description of the estates and the moors and the walks and the tea-time stories et al. But this novel is as close to reality as it could be. Whereas, Charlotte’s and Emily’s novels were the heights of romanticism, this is the other end, it is pure realism. No character is an epitome of perfection/ imperfection. All are human. Some with more vices, some with little less. But all with emotions that you and I experience daily that of love, duty, exasperation, jealousy, longing, faith, determination.

It is written in the form of an address to an assumed reader. The words used are heavy but the structure is plain and narrative is explicit and wonderful. It is a good time pass read. I did not particularly find it very interesting and could have passed it. I read the edition from Popular Illustrated Classics and let me tell you that the illustrations are totally pathetic and nothing less than that. I mean it was ludicrous to look at the drawings. The book as such would have been much much better than those mocking illustrations. Well anyway, as I said earlier, for me it was a good time pass.

One is forced to wonder that what did these Bronte sisters eat? All of them turned out to be such great writers. Currently, onto Virginia Woolf’s “A room of One’s Own” and like her every novel, although short, it will take some time to read. So, the review might come tomorrow or today night as the circumstances stand.

The Trial – Franz Kafka


Now, Franz Kafka is one of the most critically acclaimed writers of all times and there is no denying to it. However, what I was surprised to know is that he had instructed his friend to destroy all his manuscripts after his death.  Why would he do that? Did he think that he had not written good enough? Also, he had published only a few short stories and articles while he was alive. Most of his work was published posthumously and was incomplete, still it was so enchanting. Imagine, he has wanted us to be kept deprived from a look of his genius. There are some other 25 works missing which people are in the process of finding. Find about him at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Kafka

Now about the book. This book is very complex and mind boggling. It is, as the name says, an account of the trial of a person who is indicted for a reason no one knows about, in judged in court where the rules are not known to even the higher officials and if someone is able to help, it is but in a very weird and indirect way and then too it is not sure whether the help will work because as you see, no one knows what works. Finally, this accused man, Joseph K. is found guilty and executed. The story was left incomplete in the end so there was a little muddling up. But it strikes you hard. Kafka has the tendency to show the world with its highlighted absurdities and it seems normal to all. The main protagonist is a man who first accepts the indictment of an unknown court and then fights hard to be announced free. Where on one side, he is not ready to accept his guilt, on the other, he most readily visits the court without being called and authenticates the court by giving it value. Then the hidden and unknown rules of the court seem to me as a take on our own system of justice, where once caught it becomes difficult to be freed of charge because the cases keep running since infinity. Also, the fact that only the higher officials know about it is showing that justice and law are out of reach for the commoners and that  it is not acceptable to everyone. Also, judges are not influenced by any sort of documents but your conduct and influences that you generate (that is, by personal bias). It is a mockery of the law which  claims to be very objective.

It is a satire and modernist take on the justice and the system of law and it is great at that. There is use of long sentences and the breaks are few which makes it pretty heavy while you read but once you get the Kafka feel, it all seems so necessary and wonderful. All his works are translations because he originally wrote in German.

So, I had a nice time reading and thinking about Kafka and ” The Trial”. I have also read his “Metamorphosis” and “The Hunger Artist” and was equally dazed. He has this peculiar quality of showing confused individuals/their internal conflicts and their struggle to go against the system but it ends in a failure all the same and establishes the pessimism about changing the world. This has been a common theme in all the three works that I mentioned. In all these three works he has one protagonist, who does not have a social life as such and is forced into the world of absurdities.

So much for Kafka. I had nice time. 🙂