Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow

Langston Hughes, Dreams


Tender is the Night


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!

Just Finished: One Hundred Years of Solitude

DSC_2159 (2)
Click on the pic for better resolution.Wordpress messed up the details.

I finished reading this wonderful novel two days ago,but was too lazy to take a pic of the book and write a post,hence why I’m doing it only now.

Continue reading “Just Finished: One Hundred Years of Solitude”

News of a Kidnapping: Garcia Marquez’s Lost Gem

Synopsis: Drug baron Pablo Escobar and his acolytes are threatened of extradition to the United States for a harsher penal sentence.Determined to push the government to a u-turn,Escobar has ten relatives of Colombian politicians abducted and held hostage in the winter of 1990.

Continue reading “News of a Kidnapping: Garcia Marquez’s Lost Gem”

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Why it is an essential read.

Is The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat a must-read? Yes,I would say so.

The book isn’t solely based on one case alone; it comprises 24 cases split into 4 chapters,each dealing with a particular mechanism of the brain.

Where do I begin? I think it is commanding of Sacks that the 24 cases are all unique.There do exist some similarities among the cases,but these only demonstrate the multiple facets of a disease.Otherwise each of them strikes a different chord in the reader,as they revolve about different persons,about different struggles,and thus,are written differently.Take ‘Rebecca’ and ‘The Lost Mariner’ for examples.Both are terribly moving,although essentially very different.

It does not surprise me that so many of Sacks’ books are best-sellers.He truly is a gifted individual who can convey the complexities of our brains in mere simple words.He has the knack for capturing our attention from the start to the end.He is so good that at times the cases had the looks of short stories! But,most importantly,what I really liked with his writing is that the humaneness wasn’t omitted.He didn’t just content himself with writing about the syndromes,the effects and the analysis of the disease; he wrote expansively about the feelings of not only his patients but of himself as well,both as a neurologist and human being.In so doing,he inevitably evoked pathos in us.I must admit that his use of the psychological term ‘moron’ did break my heart,as I realized that some people are born to stay in a debilitating state forever – ‘Rebecca’ was unforgettable in that respect.

Sacks sure analysed the course of the illness,but also provided us with a different outlook on these people; an autistic individual as an island,for instance,is something I never thought of before,and such a queer but very plausible view will stay with me for the rest of my life.A different outlook on disabled people is exactly what this book will offer you.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat can also be frightful at times,as it sheds light on the many diseases which can be as bad as or worse than Alzheimer.But,at the same time,it is very insightful in the sense that we learn something from nearly every page on the complexities and powers of the brain.If you have a curious mind,then this one is for you!

Well,let me end this post with a little anecdote of mine.I recently stumbled upon this book on one of my umpteen visits at Waterstones(heaven! – even if I don’t buy anything there),and I sure was happy that I read it.Reading books supposedly makes you more empathetic as a person,but few can infuse as much empathy in you as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.This book made me more inclined to help people in need and to try to understand them.We think we can understand what a disabled individual is going through with just a quick glance; we look at him and feel some pity,and implicitly think ‘That’s it! I felt some pain for him.That’s enough.’ Sacks’ book alters this attitude.In Marks&Spencer,I once saw an old lady on a wheelchair whose tics resembled seizures.I thought of the healthy woman she once was,the helplessness she must be experiencing,or the medicines she has to take which,while slowing her tics,will slow her life down and make her a complete ‘vegetable’.I thought of all of this in a matter of seconds and went my way,but such empathetic view was lacking before I had read this book.

So,I think you should pick the book if you see it somewhere.You don’t have to read it within days,like I did; it can as well serve as a wonderful accompanying read which can be your bedside mate for over a period as long as 1 year! You don’t have to read it completely either.You can just go through the chapters which look most interesting to you…

P.S: I was supposed to be revising for a upcoming test,but at 00:20,I decided to write this quick post.Hope you like it and thanks if you’ve read it! 🙂

Why You Should Read Things Fall Apart (Achebe)

Synopsis: In the midst of the sheer ebullience that swaddles Umofia,a Nigerian village deeply entrenched into religion and tradition,things start falling apart,first for Okwonkwo,one of the leaders,and then,upon the arrival of the missionaries,for the village itself.

Why you should read Things Fall Apart:

1.The Vivid Language
While he chose the English language as the medium to narrate the flamboyant lives of the Igbo people,Achebe conveniently preserved the African dictums and imageries,so as to breathe an air of exoticism into the book.Also the author does not aim to translate everything in English; some words like ‘obi’ are left in their primal state.Thus,when reading Things Fall Apart,we discover a new colourful and enticing language that boldly spells Africa.

2.The Simplicity
Despite the sheer number of imageries in the book and the seriousness of the plot,the language is strikingly simple. Achebe was naturally gifted and his silky prose is devoid of any imperfection.There is nothing seemingly inordinate in his narration,and,for this reason,the book proves to be a very compelling read.

3.Africa,a new world
Until late in the story,each chapter tells a day in Umofia.Achebe makes sure to paint an accurate picture of tribal Africa by shedding light onto the customs and beliefs of the Igbo people.They have their own society and live by a set of well-defined rules,just like us,as we see in ceremonies,trials,festivals or simply in any ordinary day.Each chapter thus is one of discovery.

4.The Poignancy
Besides being a beautiful piece of work,Things Fall Apart is first of all a historical novel,written to inform people of what really happened in Africa,and,as such,is very effective.The sentiment of loss and damage evoked by the end is heightened because Achebe has subtly acquainted us with what is being damaged for the better part of the story.In fact the book is all the more poignant when put into a historical context.

5.An Important Read
Achebe surprisingly stays impartial throughout the story and leaves us the difficult task to make our own conclusion,for this book goes well beyond the question of the legibility of colonization in Africa.Moreover Things Fall Apart is an important read in the sense that it makes us see Africa in a different light;we all too often forget what the whole continent has gone through and tend to have an erroneous view of the countries through the media.

6.The Size
For all its beauty,the book is quite small; it has about 219 pages.You can therefore devour it in 1 or 2 days,depending on how fast a reader you are.Its small size also contributes to making it very intense.

Why you might not like in Things Fall Apart:

1.Be Patient?
Maybe some readers might not like the slowness of this story;maybe they wanted to be thrust into the dramatic part rather earlier.Had this been so,the story would not have been as poignant as it is now.This different writing approach from Achebe is what makes him stand out,in my opinion.

Verdict: Unexpectedly Things Fall Apart turned out to be one of my favourite books.It is written in a gorgeous language and is very compelling,for the African culture is filled with many peculiarities that we keep on discovering as we progress through the story.Most importantly it draws our attention to what Africa has lost and makes us see how the inhabitants have fallen victims to their singular culture.It is a very poignant read that deserves to be read not only for the sheer beauty of Achebe’s writing,but also for the strong message it conveys.It also is a superb initiation to African literature!