Monday, April 6, 2009

Simple living with Mr. Biswas

It was a simple story, and Mohun Biswas was definitely going about his life doing something or the other every time I popped back into his Trinidadian life. I took a while to finish A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul, something pretty rare in my reading adventures. It may have to do with the fact that I was interrupted by other tasks and visits etc. It may also have to do with the fact that while the story is simple and very easy to read, it is also slow, and feels repetitive from time to time.

You do feel for Mohun, the main character, but at times I got tired of his running around. I know that it is different times, and this mundaneness is crucial to this story.

The culture and tradition behind this story is also critical, because without the implied strong family bonds etc. Mr. Biswas would have been able to pursue his dream much faster. And yet, it is these bonds that Mr. Biswas ignored (kinda).

He was a contrast; he was hard-hearted and had strong animosity (rightly so!) toward the Tulsi family, the ones who belittled him. He was also noted as being indifferent toward his children, especially in the early years, but I think that had tot do more with the whole family dynamic and his position in it scheme of things. He was still 'finding his way', I guess. There are some wonderful stories of how Mr. Biswas does become a wonderful dad, in my eyes at least. He did so in his own way - for example. he took his son to the movies, or he was exceptionally proud that his son won the exhibition, he promised him a bicycle when he was low, and mostly I loved how he would make all sorts of things for his son Anand to play with.

The story is all about Mr. Biswas striving for his own house, a simple structure that would house his family and detach him from the hard knots with the Tulsi family.

The details are important, the small actions, the words used (for e.g. two of the young boys were called 'The Gods', implying the level of importance placed on the boys in the Tulsi family), and the way women thought about themselves (for e.g. signs of guilt) or thought about their respective spouses. Some situations grated on my nerves, and yet I know that somewhere, there are still people who think the same way.

MacLean Stomach Powder - no particular reason to mention this, but it kinda stuck in my head because of the number of times Mohun took it. I always had a worried mental bubble when I was on the page that mentioned it because I thought they were building up the case for some terrible disease in the end.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A long way gone

By Ishmael Beah is a book I haven't read as yet, but it is on my list ot must reads. Even though I did not own the book, the story sounded interesting, different and thankfully from all the reviews there was no James Frey kind of 'fake' element attached to any words.

I knew then that Ishmael had to be one strong fellow, and 'strong' being a speck of dust, while what I actually mean is strong = all the specks of dust to have ever flown in Sudan. So I made my way to Barnes and Noble at Astor Place and realised that I was one of over a hundred fans. Ishmael is a short guy, very personable, with a hint of accent, but terribly clear in thought. I loved the way he paraphrased a question from the crowd for everyone, and answered it directly without losing his train of thought , or moving to another string of words. He even had a sense of humor...yeah yeah eligible guy you say. In this day and age when single people have a tough time finding a companion, I say that you should send your mom to a book reading and make a case! Some young things mom, did exactly that much to Ishmael's discomfort.

Anyways back to the point - Will write back when I have read the book.

The Secret Life of Bees

'The Secret Life of Bees' by Sue Monk Kidd

It was an enjoyable, easy read; I did not want it to end. I wanted to know more about the lives of the characters thereafter. Did Lily and Zach have a future together? Did Lily's dad come back for her?

The pink house with its serene inhabitants (or so I felt) was a perfect holiday home, with one of my favorite characters 'August', the pillar of strength, infinite wisdom and decades of mortal experience. You go to her for everything, and she will have a reply, the perfect words to make you feel better and the strength to make you want to believe and carry on. The role of the Black Madonna was equally riveting, a legend I have heard about, but know much more about now.

The analogies between the life of bees, and the human circle of life is interesting. Makes me want to read more about them. I was quite taken up with the names of the books referred to at the beginning of each chapter. For e.g. The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men. Author: William Longgood, Pamela Johnson. It goes on my 'Potential Books to Read List'. Ms. Kidd's interview at the end of the book was very revealing-the thoughts behind some characters, or reasons for their existence. 

To all those idiotic, annoying people of the world, I quote Rosaleen, 'You Shitbucket.....'

Through his eyes

"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes" taken from the Hound of the Baskervilles, Christophers favorite book.

The curious incident of the dog in the night time, by Mark Haddon is a simple, yet complex and intelligent world of a 15 yr old autistic boy, Christopher. One of the best books I have ever read.

Such simple and frank thoughts, that for us as readers are rare, due to the complex world of superficialness, diplomacy and mundane routines.

The theory explanations for 'how humans are like computers', or even 'The Monty Hall Problem' were very interesting. I was most thrilled about the coincidence of visual thinking of common phrases, as I was discussing precisely the same thing with a friend four days before I started this book, and we kept comparing notes and sharing new phrases that are part of everyday conversation.

e.g. From the book: I laughed my socks off, They had a skeleton in the cupboard or We had a real pig of a day!

Personal: I'm going to hit the road, or I was shitting bricks. Picture them, its funny!.... to me and my friend anyways!!!