The Paper Rants

A dance of words and chapters

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Shalimar the Clown – Salman Rushdie

Shalimar-the-Clown4/5

All the time while I was reading this, I was specially reminded of the ‘Kashmir Hour’ broadcasted on PTV during the late 90s when the photos of mutilated bodies and wailing mothers used to repeatedly flash on the screen that made an 8 year old me cringe and get chilled to the bones. The fight for freedom was rich and loud while we dined and the TV blasted off songs of Humera Channa calling out to the world’s justice. We had no other option to switch a different channel. We had to realise that the war of freedom is hollering worse than ever until it got muffled over the years on our ears.

So this book is about Kashmir. Rushdie wanted to spit venom and did a tremendous job of it. Though the story rocked me out of my blazers, the long winded lament of Kashmir was a tad bit overdone. Rushdie wanted to come out ugly. He succeeded.

Such violence. Much drama.

The book starts in an intense manner when India (Kashmira), a smart woman of 30, harbours sexual thoughts for her father’s chauffer, a lean handsome Kashmiri man inducted specially for her father’s services. Later when her father, America’s counter terrorism chief, Max Ophulus (whose name is so wildly sensual) gets assassinated, the assassin turns out to be none other than the handsome chauffer himself who happens to be the husband of India’s mother. So there, now that you have a great Bollywood twist there, let’s move on to the more pressing matter at hand, Rushdie’s political concerns, which are not hard to discern through the text.

Rife with anti-Pakistan sentiments, Rushdie moves on to create a really ugly picture at the Line of Control, which is though somewhat true, stands out relentlessly as a biased stance of a one man’s propaganda. Other than that the book was an epitome of smart writing and rich cultural history. The realism, the dark magic, the Kashmiri food, the villages, the smell of the valley, the richness of the dialect screamed through the pages and while you can shrug off Rushdie’s biasness of Kashmiri’s fate, you cannot help but laud him for the powerful piece of writing.

I know the guy had gone through a lot of hate in the past, some deserved and some undeserved, but this book stands a chance to be read and analysed, along with other literature on Kashmir. And so while I cannot say it is one of the best books on Kashmir, it exists and it makes sure to leaves off a mark that is hard to rub off.

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The Emperor’s Soul

135781755/5

Ah, Sanderson. You’ve done it again!
I love Orientalist literature and absolutely adore the kind of fantasy Sanderson creates in his books. It’s dark and mysterious and always well experimented/researched leaving no second out of entertainment. This is a mix of both and so well balanced. There is no fantasy author I’ve read who experiments with concepts like death and soul so tactfully and amazingly as Sanderson always manages to do. The bad ass characters and swash buckling scenes all shoot straight at a masterpiece.
I wish he keeps on writing such novellas for people like me who can not get their hands on his hard/paperbacks so easily.

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

Ocean_at_the_End_of_the_Lane_US_Cover

3/5

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

FortunatelytheMilk_HardbackUK_13654403765/5

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….

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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!)..
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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. 😉

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A Hero of our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

Image3/5

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.

pm5

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!

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves.

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5/5

Let me do a little buck and wing dance for this one. Ahh, Wodehouse gets me cracking my limb-oos.

*stretch -kick -stretch – cheers*

It’s cheery, dancy and wonderful for the bummer days. There is a lot more swagger to Jeeves than I’ve ever seen in any fic butler ever. I guess, if he had ever made it to the real world, I would’ve been swapping my cigarettes for his reality show DVDs.  Although after some time, the whole raged aunt, half-hallucinated uncle, bubbling-romance diva and a butch for a villain square does becoming a trite, but there is always something about the Wodehouse language and his expressions in the ghettos that makes lotsa book jailbirds like me willing to fly right out their pickles.

This one was quite uniquely expressed too. After their usual ruffle and shuffle of the snarky situations, the Jeeves-Wooster team manages to come out with just slight bruises on their ego, shinning like spring chickens. So, there isn’t a lot to give away as a plot. You can only find out by picking it up and giving it a really nice breeze with a quick flashy reading.

Hullo…Zap Zap…Focus your audio, please.

Hullo to almost next to no audience of this baby blog, I hope your stay here would be as much fun as I hope it would be.

So, to jump the gun already, blogging is NOT my second nature but reading is, in fact, I don’t remember spending any day of my life without, if not heavy, but necessarily a mild flip of a book everyday. But blogging is something I’ve been trying to avoid for a long time. First, because the introvert in me couldn’t have shimmered and nurtured had I been making my rants public. Second, I had a distinct scare and less than no confidence in my writing abilities.

But having reasonably matured and putting my stuffed-frog expression behind, I’m pepping up to this new venture, that is – you guessed it- a book blog!  Weeeeee 😀

While my claws are still sharp on books and their reviews, I really hope to keep a lively banter for the book lovers to hog here.

Hose me down with your positive vibes and lucks, please. ^_^ Also, if you like what you’re reading, give me a follow on Twitter. @LuciferSam__

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