Coming back?

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I’ve just changed my blog’s theme for a fresher look.

Even though I’m extremely busy these days, I feel like coming back on wordpress to post at least once a week. Because I do miss life here. I never felt left out – on the contrary, I met lots of people sharing the same passion for books. My days had a purpose – I’d read something amazing to share on the blog later. And I was always looking forward to my favourite bloggers’ next post.

Oddly enough my blog has been doing quite well without me – statistically speaking. I very rarely get less than 50 views and my number of views per day regularly peaks around 90. Today itself I got 97 views, which is quite crazy. All in all, that’s 62,241 in total. I wonder when it will hit 100,000!

Anyway, I hope people will react to this post. I can’t wait to interact with you guys, again! ūüôā

 

James Salter, Bangkok

I’ll tell you something funny, Hollis said, something I heard. They say that everything in the universe, the planets, all the galaxies, everything‚ÄĒthe entire universe‚ÄĒcame originally from something the size of a grain of rice that exploded and formed what we have now, the sun, stars, earth, seas, everything there is, including what I felt for you.

What I’m Up To These Days….

I’ve been in England for two weeks now. Lectures began last Monday.

This is my final year, and I’m determined to make the most of it – which means I’ll try to find the time to visit galleries and museums in London, read all sorts of books, and concentrate more on my studies.

Anyway, my room is such a mess that taking this little picture was not even easy. A¬†Manual for Cleaning Women aside, the books arrived on Friday. I hope – I will try my best – to read all of them before the year ends. I initially wanted to read the Booker Prize nominees first, but I lost my debit card and couldn’t order anything for 1 week! So it would’ve been virtually impossible to read them in 3 weeks or so with my lectures.

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Here is why I bought these books:

A Manual for Cleaning Women: I bought the book in Waterstones during the Fresher’s Week because I didn’t have anything to read in my room. I’m halfway through it, but I’ll read it sporadically now that I’ve received my other books – the reason being that reading nearly 400 pages of short stories can get very tiresome. I like it though.

This Is How You Lose Her: I had already added the books I wanted to read to¬†my Amazon basket even before I actually obtained my debit card back. However, when checking out I noticed that two collections of short stories present in the cart were by Irish authors. So I kept one (Young Skins by Colin Barrett), saved the other (Dark Lies the Island by Kevin Barry) and added Junot Diaz’s short stories, because he writes from a different background and I was very impatient to discover his writing. I’m currently reading and loving it!

The Vegetarian: The Man Booker International Prize 2016. At first I didn’t want to read it that bad. But I read how the translator, Deborah Smith, learned Korean shortly after finishing university at 21 and how she ended up translating The Vegetarian. I can completely relate to¬†her feeling that she needed to do something different, that will make her stand out, after graduating. I can’t wait to read this book!

The Glorious Heresies: Ah, another Irish author. I somehow forgot this book but I saw some people around here who were reading it. It won the Bailey’s Award despite not even featuring in the Booker longlist, so I have a feeling it might be a book that divides opinion. But,anyway, I am very much looking forward to reading it. (I wanted the other cover, but that one was cheaper.)

The Art of the Short Story: I’m loving reading short stories at the moment so I was very interested when I saw this book on goodreads. Paris Review is synonymous with quality and its selection of short stories (twenty in total) looks very promising. I like how each of them is given an introduction, so that we can witness the art of ”shortstorytelling”¬†in different¬†settings and styles.

The Sympathizer: This book won so many awards, among which is the Pulitzer. I added it to my tbr list because I wanted to read more books by Asians or¬†authors¬†of Asian descent. What made me want to actually read it now is simply the fact that¬†it is one of the best books of 2016. In 2017 I’ll have my eyes set on different books and might end up forgetting it. So now is the right time, I think, to read it.

Tender is the Night

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I read Tender Is the Night just after finishing Schindler’s Ark – I badly needed a change in setting after reading almost 400 pages on the holocaust.

The story begins just as in The Great Gatsby. A newcomer to the French Riviera meets a clique of rich people and discovers their world of wonders. What happens after however is a far cry from what you can imagine.

Expectedly, the exquisite words¬†Fitzgerald¬†uses help create an ethereal world. One memorable event for me¬†is the dinner scene at the beginning, which felt like a dream. I remember feeling exactly what Rosemary felt at that point. It was intense, almost magical. There are also some scenes of immense poetry¬†between the story’s lovers. My favourite scene is the one with Dick unable to play a tune on the piano because Nicole is within earshot. His inability at doing so is a powerful mirroring of his state of mind. ¬†(I don’t wish to give away any spoiler)

I was also impressed with the degree of freedom Fitzgerald allowed himself in writing the book. His style feels even more idiosyncratic; he uses dashes, inverted commas and ellipses whenever he wants to. One can mistake him for somebody gone a bit crazy with the pen, but he’s quite like a Picasso in fact. The leitmotifs he uses throughout the book¬†along with the clues sprinkled here and there show that he is in charge of the story and has a clear idea of what he wants it to convey. Besides, it is for this reason that I think Tender Is the Night is better enjoyed upon one’s second reading and onward.

While I really liked The Great Gatsby, I still thought Fitzgerald was an author who played it safe, despite himself or not. What I mean is, I thought, maybe because of the time he lived in, he would not be too adventurous with taboo themes. But I was mistaken. Badly. There is one particular scene in the book where the term ‘Daddy’s Girl’¬†takes a completely different meaning, and I was really surprised upon reaching it.

If I was impressed that much with Tender Is the Night, then why did I rate it only 4 stars on goodreads? That’s mainly because Fitzgerald’s writing¬†sometimes makes some passages so abstract and confusing that I found myself staring at a page, trying to make out what was happening in a scene. This somehow correlates with my above statement; the beauty of the book is better appreciated when you read it for a second time.

If asked, I would say I prefer The Great Gatsby over Tender Is the Night. The latter is technically the¬†better book though. However iconic¬†Gatsby’s story is, it is his [Fitzgerald’s] last book that shows how ahead of his time he was. For Tender Is the Night is not just a story rich with intricacies; it is a veritable lesson on the craft of writing by a master storyteller.

It beggars belief that this book was published in 1934!