From my Book-Shelf

The Mystic Masseur

The Mystic Masseur

My rating- didn't like it didn't like it didn't like it
 
I have been hooked onto Naipaul since I read “A House for Mr. Biswas”. (for more info refer- https://wordsofashex.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/from-my-book-shelf-8/). This book is similar to that one as it describes the story of a man from nothing to something. The only difference being- this book is more funny and the best part is that in India, I can expect the rise of someone like this.
The Mystic Masseur is the story of Ganesh- who starts by being a masseur and then moves to being an author, a mystic and then a politician. His marriage is very Indian-of-the-50s (The girl’s father thinks Ganesh will be a suitable husband because he is “educated” and he agrees and they lead a dissatisfied life together). Like every Naipaul’s book, the characters are powerful and well-crafted while the satire makes me think of my family (the extended ones especially :D).
This is Naipaul’s first novel and he established his distinct style with this book- the satire of the Hindus and the powerful characters who make you a part of their world. You observe their activities and smile, laugh and sometimes…cry with them; never realizing that maybe this story can be of someone you know. That is one of the major reasons why Naipaul’s books are so engaging- he just makes me think the way I perceive people around me.
This book is better then “A House for Mr. Biswas” as there is always something happening in this book while “A House…” seemed to get slow at times. I would recommend this book to every Indian as they would be able to relate to it…especially how we put the “mystics” to pedestals and expect our happiness from them.

Miguel Street

Miguel Street

My rating- didn't like it didn't like it
  
Yes, you can say it has been “The VS Naipaul Reading Session” but both “A Mystic Masseur” and “Miguel Street” are short, easy-to-read novels. It took me 6 hours in total to finish both. (No, I am not bragging :D).
“Miguel Street” has no story. It is a narrative told by a boy who sits on a pavement at Miguel Street and observes the people day in- day out. At the end of the book, you feel like you have entered the homes and hence the private lives of the people who live at Miguel Street. There is Popo the carpenter who is trying to make “the thing without a name”; there is Man-Man who stages his own crucifixion and several other characters who live there. I suppose I expected some story that makes a novel- but Miguel Street is several short stories with the common thread being that the characters live on the same street and hence, know each other.
These stories reveal something about the lives of the people during that time and a deeper research is needed to really understand more about the characters. But what I can take back from this book is that this is a good exercise- just sitting outside your house on the street and observing the lives of the people day in and day out and then involve them in a story of your own. After all, that is what fiction writing is all about. 🙂

The Cider House Rules

The Cider House Rules

My rating- it was ok it was ok it was ok it was ok
 
So it was not all Naipaul :D. I though I will take a break from Naipaul and this was a book I found on my recent trip back home. I brought it with me and was a little apprehensive about reading it…but am glad I did. This is an un-putdownable book and I loved every bit of it. The Cider House Rules has also been made into a movie and I have heard that is really good as well. Anyway, this review is about the book.
This is the first John Irving book I have read and it is definitely not the last. The Cider House Rules is about Dr. Wilbur Larch- “saint and obstetrician” who runs an orphanage in St. Clouds located in Maine (US) and his favorite orphan Homer Wells who is never adopted.
The book takes you through a gripping and an emotional journey from the naming of Homer Wells and his experiences with the families who adopt him…but something or the other happens and he comes back to St. Clouds. He becomes Dr. Larch’s protege and learns how to deliver babies and also to abort them…but he refuses to perform abortions (unlike Dr. Larch). The book has its share of emotions- the humor, the sadness, the disappointment, the anger and I can go on and on…though I won’t :D.  But what makes this book so amazing is that you feel these emotions inside you, you feel like you are going through these turmoils and you can feel the sense of loss on the women’s faces when they step off the train in the morning to get an abortion done or the hatred for everything when a young but strong Melony breaks a house near the orphanage.
This is one of the most empowering books I have read in a while and is a must-read for everyone.

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From my Book-Shelf

From My Book-shelf

Breathless in Bombay

A friend gave me this book after he was done reading it and I am glad I got sick during that time. I took a 2-day leave from office and since I had nothing to do, read this book. This book is a collection of short stories with the backdrop being Mumbai. The characters are so beautifully crafted that one can feel that they actually exist…and maybe they do. I could not put the book down once I started reading it. In fact, I wanted to rush home after work and read this book! This is a must read for people who like to read short stories as this book takes you through the same emotional journey that a novel does.

A House for Mr Biswas

Reading became a hobby when I used to read stories from my English text-books even before they had been taught in class. After that I moved on to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sidney Sheldon. I had never read Indian authors nor did I hear from anyone that Indian writers are widely acclaimed. Hence when I started reading voraciously, I never took a book penned by an Indian. But off late I have had a change of heart. I have read about Indian authors and there is a sense of emotional touch they have which I can connect with. The characters are well sketched out and the focus is on the place, the culture and the characters rather than the plot (Refer God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy).
VS Naipaul is an acclaimed author of Indian origin. His book “A House for Mr. Biswas” is about a man’s struggle to have a house of his own. On the way, he gets married, has kids, changes jobs and places, goes into depression, becomes a journalist and goes through the ups and downs all of us go through. The book is a little boring, but then this is a typical Indian book- focus on characters, culture and family rather than the plot. But then, credit to the author…after all how many can write a whole book about a man who wants to own a house. 😀
But the book is more than that. It is about Indian family values, trials of living in a joint family and the kind of thinking that still exists in India. But you need to be patient to read it. At some points it drags for a while and one is tempted to put it down. So if you are a patient person and prefers books which are not racy enough but focus on the characters and their emotional journey then go for this one.

The Old Man and His God: Discovering the Spirit of India

I read somewhere about Sudha Murty and saved her name in my phone so that if I find a book written by her, I’l take it. This time I did. And well…I regret it. Sudhar Murty has written numerous books and they have been translated to many different languages. Maybe I picked the wrong book, but I guess that happens once in a while. 🙂
This book is a collection of short stories- all of them about the people the author has met and have influenced her in some way or the other. Reading this book reminded me of my school days when we used to read short stories which were 3-4 pages long and were written in simple English. I guess some stories can be made a part of the school curriculum but I’d stop there. The stories are good, simply written and it feels like the author has used her name to publish some entries she must have made in her diary. Some stories seem incomplete and a waste of time while others are good and yet you feel something is amiss.
I would recommend this book for school going kids and parents who tell their children “bed-time stories”.

From My Book-shelf