The Paper Rants

A dance of words and chapters

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

2011_Melville House_Yoshimoto_The Lake_cover4/5 stars

In the end, I’m really really glad to have read this. Also, feeling far too proud to have discovered a new Japanese author whose book I can curl up with in not-so-perfect days to make sense of things and to realize that the world is not perfect neither are the beings breathing and surviving in it. This is the book that takes you with it to another world but soothingly, calming you into its fold where you feel safer and better.

Basically this is about two people who melt together easily into each other’s comfort and silence through a web of dreams and fears. Their relationship has a subtle influence that can make anyone shed a tear or two out of love and compassion. It’s dreamy and misty and reminds me of Japan at every turn of the page. The sadness that comes along with it is too addictive and a curious romantic like me found it absolutely easy.

If you are a fan of Hong Kong movies like In the Mood for Love, this is going to nip up a similar tango. I simply loved it


Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman



What really surprises me about Gaiman is how he keeps on producing voluminous stuff in such frequency as he does, he is beginning to look like a best-seller churning machine to me now. Also, the class that comes with his books is not to be ignored. He hits it lucky with almost every book I’ve read of him and when I picked up this book, I dived into it already heavy with expectations. 

The book started off with a strangely familiar scene where a man drives to a place (Hempstock’s farm) after a funeral, as if in a trance and reminisces about his past sitting beside an ocean (is really just a pond), caught in the snippets of time, he is reeled back into his memories. The start of the book (which I read way back when the book was first released) enticed me to read more and urgently. However, I am a bit disgruntled to declare that the rest of the story that followed did not really sweep me away too far.

The story has Gaiman written all over the place (a bit too Coraline-ish!). It’s full of his usual quirks and crotchets and he really has it all together fairly fine until you’re well into the midriff where it’s stretch. And you can really feel that stretchhhh! (yes, it is a bit of a pulling-you-along-and-releasing sort of a stretch.) And then you’re on the loose into something that is full of meaning and stuff. 
The fact that the book is kinda memory house for the author makes it a bit personal to me, since Gaiman is revered by me like every other book geekster. Urrrgghhh.

Well, 3.5 stars from a jadedly surprised Gaiman fan

Fortunately, the milk by Neil Gaiman


If you really want to exercise your imaginative muscles which I’m sure must have rusted after reading Russian literature for a long time (out of custom, out of habit) then it would be apt to pick this sherbet strawberry inked by Gaiman himself. Though he was being as original in this book as he’s been in any, I thought he gave us a blend of Roald Dahl, Douglas Adams and Dr. Seuss here.

So, the story goes: Mother leaves the kids and the father behind while she goes away to attend a conference on lizards. The father who scarcely moves his nose out of the newspaper, goes to fetch some milk for the young ones. Takes ages in returning and when he does, he makes up a story involving green globby aliens who wants the father to name off the planet of Earth to them so that they can plant plastic flamingos on earth instead of the trees….


Wumpires (Vampires of our world..*rolls eyes*), Splod, the god of people with short funny names, Professor Steg ( A stegosaurus, who is for Dad as Dr. Emmet Brown was for Marty. You guessed it – a time traveller!)..

Space police (Which is nothing but a bunch of dinosaurs on high speeding motor bikes in space)

6576040and well, a bunch of pirates and a fatso pirates queen.

During all this fiasco where the Dad time travels and escapes these rowdy characters one by one, he makes sure no harm comes to the milk and hence, when he returns, it was Fortunately, the milk that saves him.

I know, I should also let you know that this book is pitched for kids but I dunno why I feel this too would be enjoyed by Gaiman fans of all sizes and ages. And he’s doing a great job promoting it. 😉


A Hero of our Time by Mikhail Lermontov


To be honest, I was expecting much out of this book than what I got but I also can not say that all the goodness that came with that prose was lost on me. It is slightly disjointed collection of stories which turns to a daily journal in the end.
Pechorin, our protagonist anti-hero, is not your usual psychopath-killer-shoota, rather he struggles sometimes with the vices that seems to branch out of his goodness. The moral weaknesses he nourishes, are not too violent neither innocent. He’s trapped in his shell of overpowering wisdom. His notion of happiness, wealth and power is pretty outdated for the current times because almost every man is somewhat following the Pechorin character with zeal these days. He’s also pretty hot for romance (hmm..I was looking forward to some sex, which there is none) but has too many ellipses in his life to actually nurture that employment, afterwards, he soon recluses to himself. Modern man can also find a guide to woo Circassian women in there.


As simple as I am when it comes to extracting the moral out of a story, I think I need to be explicitly told sometimes and with a little research at the author’s history reveals that he died in a duel – as Pechorin might have done – at the age of 26. Much as the epilogue suggests otherwise, I do believe Pechorin was tad bit too reflective of the author who invented him. At the end of this review, I really am wondering whether I should be more selective of the Russian books next time!

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