Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn


I finally read the novel by Gillian Flynn. I had been seeing it being hailed for a long time. Eventually, I decided to give in. Took me about two days of intense reading to get through the nearly 600 page novel.

It was interesting. The novel started a bit slow. But I was interested since the psychological exploration which the author does is quite deep and precise. Then there were twists. And the book got very interesting. However, after 400 pages, I started to feel it was a bit longer than needed.
Nonetheless, it was entertaining. Above all, it was the psychological tussle between a couple which I thought was well done. Reading the minds of relationships – that is something which Gillian Flynn has managed to do very well. She said in an interview that her goal was to make couples looks askance and trust me, for a day, I was really affected and upset after reading the book 🙂

It’s a book worth a read. I would give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

The Emperor of all Maladies – Siddhartha Mukherjee


The Emperor of all Maladies – A biography of Cancer is a book by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. I just finished reading it and it is definitely a very illuminating manuscript for a person as removed from medical society as myself. The book traces the chronology of cancer and how it has evolved to become today what it is. The sheer effort in writing the book must have been monumental and the research and the background work shines through the pages. It is in an infornative and fiction-like way at once that Dr. Mukherjee takes us through the intricate world of cancer – right from its prevention to detection to cure to remission to the unending battle against it.

For me, reading about something as naturally powerful as a human body right down to its single cell and its components is very humbling. How intricate, delicately balanced, compelx and intelligent our bodies are is what Dr. Mukherjee talks about in the second half of the book. From attacking a beast about which nothing is known with radical surgeries and intense chemotherapies to evolving to a very specific non toxic treatment today is the cancerous journey covered in this book. Also chronicled are the political struggles which got Cancer as much attention as it has today. It also portrays the struggles of the patients: physical, emotional and social.

The most ironic thing being that cancer cells live exactly like normal cells do. They just do it more vitally and with extreme fecundity.

It was a truly educational experience to have read this book. I recommend it!!

A wild Sheep Chase – Haruli Murakami


Aaah! A book review after long and I am afraid the only one for a long time too. Before this I tried to read “A theory of everything- Ken Wilber” fruitlessly. It was a boring book. Yeah!

I had heard a lot about Murakami so I though of giving him a read and got this. As I came to know this is the third book of “The Rat Trilogy”. But book made sense independently too to some extent ( although not making sense is in the post modernist nature of the book). It has fantastical elements sitting amongst realities and all with very ease. Life goes on sometime weirdly sometimes boringly but it goes on. At the heart of it is a man who is a mediocre dreamer, trying to get into the thick of the boredom when he is suddenly thrown into an adventure, and from then on he sets on to the wild sheep chase. He tries to remain as unaffected as possible. Noting hits him hard, he has learnt to forget things and let them go. At the end of the adventure, he is a changed man in these terms and finally he lends his tears for the broken marriage, gone job and the previous meaningless existence. One could easily trace the hard bolied detective fiction and also the post modernist knitting of the tale.

So, it was fascinating to read but just that. It has not been able to register a big impact on me , either in the terms of tale or in the terms of writing. I guess, it could be attributed to my lowly tastes or something like that, but whatever it is, I was not extremely pleased.

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.

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.