The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison


First book I have read of Morisson. It is stark. In its descriptions, in its ideas and its picturizations. It is touching too. Pecola is perhaps the most unfortunate creature on the earth and the people responsible for this are those who are most close to her and their histories. How these histories and the present and hence the situation of an ugly black girl is affected by racial discrimination and profiling is the theme of the novel. It is a small book and so easy to finish. It is okay.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman- John Perkins


Now I dont want to say that everything in this book is untrue. There is a lot of truth in there but unforunately, it has been tailored and deliberated by the author in such a way that it comes down as a conspiracy theory and propaganda. I am assuming that he wants to scare the hell out of us and unmask the true nature of cpaitalism that is going on behind tha facade of all being hunky dory. But only, if he had done it in a critical scientific way and stated things for what they are rather then making a cartel. The thing is that I know some of those things are true and need to be said, but if they are said in this manner, in this threatening, conspiratorial manner, they will not strike a bell and defeat the purpose.

Sadly, that is what has happened here. But the conspiracy theories are fun to hear and read about nonetheless and in that way it is pretty entertaining.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera


It is funny that I always thought Milan Kundera was an Indian person and this book about politics and bureaucracy. Whereas my first assumpton failed badly, the second was touching the truth somewhat.  Well, Milan Kundera is a Czech who had been expelled from the country when Russia captured it and has been living in France since. The story is formed with the background as the Czechoslovakia which was captured by the Russians and the resulting spread of communism, its threat, the expulsion and execution of intellectuals. Among all this is, at the centre of it, is a sad love story of philandering Tomas and agonizing Tereza. Tomas’ sexual appetite is not fulfilled by one or two. He has to explore the minutest differences that women have while making love. Tereza knwos this and outwardly she tries to be fine but her heart wishes Tomas to be only her’s alone. She has weird dreams about it and cries. Sabina is a particular mistress of Tomas who is also a friend and an artist and finds a romantic love in betrayal of everything that connects her to her former life. After Tomas leaves she is with Franz, a professor, who is trying to escpae from her superficial wife whom he respects but not loves, into the cult and the dreamworld that he has created with Sabina. The day when he leaves everything for Sabina, she leaves him because she can do nothing but betray.

The book is a philosophical musing about eternity and the meaning of our actions if they were to be repeated again and again and again. He says that since our actions happen only once, they can have no meaning as such, because what has happened is as good as it might not have happened at all. It is here that he poses the paradox, sort of, that despite the fact that our actions have no meaning at all as such, even the smallest of them impact our lives in tremendous ways. We keep longing for lightness, for what we not have and when we have got it, there is a sorrow, a sort of guilt that remains for leaving the heaviness.

The gist that I got is that the lightness implies being not able to care or to care, depending upon each person. But, if one does not care, the person is constantly riddled with the pressure and the guilt forcing him that he should care. And if he cares, he is constantly craving for not caring. In either case, the state of lightness becomes unbearable. Although I enjoyed the melancholy sweetness of the novel, a sad love story painted with the russian invasion of czechoslovakia, I am afraid to say that I think that I have not fully understood it. I will have to read it again to get a real good grasp. On surface, I understand the philosophy that the author tries to expound, that one’s actions are neither good nor bad and cannot be judged because they are never to be repeated and hence are of one time nature and inconsequential. So, we must not have much value attached to the actions that we take and yet these seemingly insignificant things affect our lives in most insignificant of ways, deciding whether the happiness exists or not. There is lot of soul searching in here, things abt communism, religion,kitsch, purpose of life etc. It is a rich book and a good book for thought. I shall have to read it again and I think I will do.

The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir


Simone de Beauvoir is a French existentialist and this work- The Second Sex- of her is a philosophical treaty on the concept of “feminity” and that how a woman is defined. Where does the concept of “eternal feminine” came into being. When does the patricarchal societies become the norm and why? Why has woman been relegated to the status of the other in a world where without her equal contribution, the species would not even go further. Despite the fact that woman as human being is a sentient being, her position among all the females is the worst, sometimes even worse than the slaves and minorities and other opressed groups. She states the unique phenomena and realtion that exists between the opressor(man) and the oppressed(woman) is the cause. The slaves can all gather together against the masters, exploited against the eploiters but not women against men.

She also discusses the Freudian psychoanalytical viewpoint and contends that the analysis may not hold value because the woman’s sexuality is seen from the male point of view, as someone who is deprived of penis and thereby, explains the things as castration complex or Oedipus complex or Electra complex. She says that the feminine sexuality should be studied independently and from a female’s point of view. She also stresses the importance of expectations that we confer upon the sexes that make them behave in a certain manner.

All in all, it is the ultimate Feminist Manifesto :). It should be read by feminists and the chauvinists. It is a balanced and critical and seemingly scientific work which spells out the arguments very nicely. Given that I am colored in some shades of feminism , I was able to enjoy and appreciate the work and at the same time learn about some of the very fundamental points of contention, starting right from the contribution of the sperm and the egg.

Every Second Counts – Lance Armstrong, Sally Jenkins


I have been unfair in writing the name of Armstrong as the only author for the last book because as well Armstrong has lived his life, that well Sally has written it and portrayed to us the power of steel will, iron determination and single minded dedicaion. This one picks up where the last book left and does it in the same perfect way. It about the next four Tour De France that Lance Armstrong was able to win. It is about the arduous training, the hard work and the difficulties he surpassed to scale the mountaines of Alps and regain hi glory. This is about he gave a reply to the people who suspected him again and again. It is not about reaching the goal, the supreme but about surviving there. It tells us about the things that go behind being and becoming the best.

It was an equally enthralling read and is again recommended. In fact, it is after reading this, I picked up the It’s not about the bike and it worked fabulously for me.