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Posts Tagged ‘Bookmark’

Hello there!

I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re familiar with our blogging-routine (or our not blogging routine, really) once college reopens, so I’m not going to whip out all the old excuses*. But you should know, we don’t actually ever forget the blog entirely for weeks together. All of us have admitted to thinking up posts for the blog in the past. And sometimes, I go one step further and make a list of bullet points on things I want to write about. Sometimes, I expand on them (as in this post) , but most of the time, I just have a bunch of incomplete notes :

From my desktop

(Side-note: Does anyone else use Notepad? Anyone? Anyone? No? Ok.)

(1) Paper towns metaphor:

Before I go ahead and post my notes, here’s a brief outline of Paper Towns:

The lead characters of this novel are Quentin Jacobsen and his neighbour, Margo Roth Spiegelman, who grow up together as kids but eventually go their separate ways. Margo appears at Quentin’s window one night and whisks him along on a mad, vengeful one-night scheme. Not long after, she disappears, leaving Quentin a trail of clues that leads him to make a cross-country trip with his best friends, in the belief that finding her will restore their former friendship. Along the way he begins to question his conception of Margo and their future.

Now, for the metaphor:

John Green’s Author’s Note says: ” Agloe began as a paper town created to protect against copyright infringement. But then people with those old Esso maps kept looking for it, and so someone built a store, making Agloe real….The store that was Agloe no longer stands. But I believe that if we were to put it back on our maps, someone would eventually rebuild it. “

Thought:  So long as people go looking for a manic pixie dreamgirl/ other fantasy-figure (as in Margo), there will be people to provide it (again, as in Margo)? And also people who will be complicit in the lie through blind longing for something that doesn’t exist.

(2) Kavalier and Clay (From the book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay):

 Overview:

Josef ‘Joe’ Kavalier enters his cousin, Samuel Klayman (‘Clay’)’s life one night after having escaped from Nazi-infested Prague, leaving his immediate family behind. Upon discovering Joe’s skill with the pencil, Sam convinces his boss to give them jobs as comic book creators. Here, Joe’s training as an escape artist and his violent desire to inflict some damage against Nazi Germany, along with Sam’s repressed polio-stricken son-of-a-strongman self gain life in the superhero of their creation, The Escapist. Joe and Sam both grow and discover their true leanings in life even as their stories pander to the growing feeling against Germans and to their male demographic through objectifying women . The story follows through to the  end of the golden age of comic books with the Kefauver Senate hearings and the decisions the two cousins are faced with.

Thoughts:

 Joe / The Golem/The Escapist–parallel figures: 

The golem is a creature encountered in Jewish lore, that was created by a rabbi from Prague using clay. Although initially created to protect the Jews, the story goes that it eventually went on a rampage as it grew in power. The rabbi alone could ‘deactivate’ the golem, which was then held safe to protect the community from future enemies.

At the start of  the novel, Joe escapes from Prague with this very golem in order that it not fall into the hands of the Nazis. And from then on it seems to be present in the tale in the form of The Escapist and also through Joe kavalier. Much like the golem, The Escapist is a symbol of hope for Jews everywhere, and as Joe’s personal anti-Nazi weapon, he is indestructible. Joe himself also comes across as being rather disproportionately gifted– his skill as an escape artist and general infallibility require real suspension of disbelief. Further, Joe has a little brother back home, and it is vital to him that he find a way to ship his brother to safety alongside himself. When his attempts to do so are in vain, he goes into a downward spiral (much like the golem! And the increasingly violent Escapist!), turning his back on everything he holds dear, and enlists actively in the war against Germany. In the course of his service, Joe is sent to Antarctica, where he attempts to kill a peaceful German scientist. He regrets this almost immediately, recognizes that his hatred has been blind and futile , and eventually returns home. Soon after he reaches home, the golem is shipped to him and he finds that it has reverted to dust. This is in keeping with the legend of the golem, which cannot serve another master and becomes powerless when taken off the soil of its homeland. Similarly, Joe’s anger is somewhat quieted. Interestingly, this also coincides with the end of The Escapist and the decline of the comic book industry, making The Escapist seem like yet another incarnation of the golem.

Bottomline:  The juxtaposition of clad-in-tights sidekicks and World War-II is unique and fantastically well done. You should definitley read this book if you can lay hands on a copy.

(3) hp72.txt contains a bunch of incoherent points at the moment. Also, I want to post reviews of a couple of other movies I’ve watched since. So, that’ll be another post for another time.

Or maybe not.

For having got through the rest of this post, I will leave you with this fun fact:

BWC trivia, folks.

        That’s right. I named my ipod. And what’s more, I named him Augustus Pod. On a related note, I am also co-author of a sort of event-log (of  amusing college-related events) named Jeff.

   If you like naming inanimate objects too, leave me a comment and gain one cookie!

*For anyone who doesn’t know, our big excuse goes something like this: College sucks. This makes us miserable and not want to blog. When we don’t have to go to college, we’re too happy to blog etc.

P.S.: I seem to have published this post privately before it was done. So, er, yeah. That too. :/

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When I first saw this book at the store, I was hesitant to buy it. Because I had this (god knows from where) idea that Amitav Ghosh is one of those prolific, eltistic writers. And also, because I thought his writings wouldn’t have a ‘story’. After The Calcutta Chromosome, I probably will pick another of his books sometime.

The tagline – A novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery sets the genre for this. A chaotic (yet interestingly good) mix of science fiction with supernatural and medieval components and medical history. So this book, is set in the future, the present and the past, and is done so in a wonderfully connected way. But, in the beginning, I did find the jumping of timelines very confusing. And I had to go back a couple of pages to link things in my head. What’s brilliant is that he manages to put out ‘clues’ to what the book is about, right from the very beginning, but you never catch it because – hey! It’s the beginning! I guess, when you read the second time, it’ll all dawn upon you.

I like that he didn’t go into this detail-ridden future, which makes it a lot more believable. The cult of people with advanced scientific ability and the whole ‘switching’ phenomenon is, although very strange, pretty well written. My main quip about this is that Ghosh tries to creatively hide details and sometimes, frustrates me. But his writing and the vocabulary are brilliant. They not only sound good, but describe the temperament and scene very well.

As for one of the MCs, Murugan, he seemed to be flaky, in the sense, his character seemed to wobble here and there.

True, it’s written beautifully, but I would say that it didn’t captivate me altogether. It was like it reached a high-point on  a bell curve and then fell sort of flat. It’s interesting yes, good, maybe. One of those books you love/hate, over time. The concept of transmigration is very interesting. Makes one wonder.

I would recommend it, only if you’d like something different, fast, yet it falls short. Don’t read with high expectations and you might like it. (Which is probably why I enjoyed it).
Rating : 3/5

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  • Reading this:

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W.Gortner

This book is brilliant so far!

Bookmark


“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
— C.S. Lewis

Close-Up


Random Quilled Rose

Quilling is interesting! I love how everything looks so much more whimsical because of the swirlys and I’ve discovered that paper glued down on its side is surprisingly stable. I shall try something more ambitious when I get back home (I’m on vacation at the moment!).

More Random Quilled Rose

Well, that’s all for now. I shall post more when I return.

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Well, of course I love Looking for Alaska- it’s a John Green novel that deals with existentialism, the teenage experience and exactly why we continue to trudge through life even though ultimately, there is no beating it. In fact the only real question is which of the above factors I’m most suckered by!
It is this  quality of the story- it’s being replete with moments that are recognizably true– that makes it so endlessly fascinating. There is also that quick, unexexpected humour that is uniquely John Green’s that peppers the book and makes you realize simultaneously that this could so easily have been your story and that you could never have quite thought up that turn of phrase.


During my very cursory review of the book’s cover ( I really couldn’t wait to plunge in!), I noticed a comparison to the Catcher in the Rye (which, as you can guess, made me want to really stop looking at the damn cover and READITALREADY!). I see elements of similarity, thematically, but the lead characters and their specific grievances are  different, and the writing styles are nothing alike.* Also, while Salinger does not seem to welcome too much probing of his work,(In his dedication: “If there is an amateur reader still left in the world–or anybody who just reads and runs–I ask him or her, with untellable affection and gratitude…”), I can tell that this book is clearly drawn from John (who is one half of the Youtube sensation Vlogbrothers)’s own past and he seems to appreciate the extent to which an author’s experiences colours his choices for subject matter. Authorial influence is not always so apparent in books and lots of people seem to look upon this picking apart of books to get at the author’s own driving beliefs with distaste, but I really enjoyed drawing conclusions from this book and also having them coincide with what I know of the author from his videos.


As for the story itself, it revolves around young teenage misfit and collector of famous last words, Miles ‘Pudgy’ Halter, who moves to a boarding school in hopes of a second chance for happiness through reinventing himself. Culver Creek becomes a place of many firsts, for Pudgy. He makes friends with incredibly funny, larger-than-life characters who are, on first impression, exactly ‘the wrong sort’. In particular, he fancies himself in love with the intriguing, the elusive, the shrouded-in-mystery and lover-of-drama, Alaska Young. Even through the tragedy of  her life, Pudgy finds with new conviction, that  despite very real obstacles in the very real labyrinth of life, that the Great Perhaps he seeks is undiminished in its allure .

En fin, I find myself making an unlikely comparison with another book I read recently, which is Steppenwolf, by Herman Hesse. The latter is much more convoluted, but all the same, seeks an explanation for man’s desire to keep living despite life’s lack of nice, formulaic guarantees. And surprisingly, both authors find comfort in biblically rooted ideas of redemption and hope.


If I haven’t made a convincing argument for reading the book already, I’ll leave his brilliant words the job:

“When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

[Rap by Alaska]: “Oh shit did you just diss the feminine gender / I’ll pummel your ass then stick you in a blender / You think I like Tori and Ani so I can’t rhyme / but I got glow like Ghostbusters got slime / objectify women and it’s fuckin’ on / you’ll be dead and gone like ancient Babylon.”

But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.

(Cheering at a basketball game)The Colonel led all the cheers.
Cornbread!” he screamed.
CHICKEN!” the crowd responded.
Rice!”
PEAS!”
And then, all together: “WE GOT HIGHER SATs.”
Hip Hip Hip Hooray!” the Colonel cried.
YOU’LL BE WORKIN’ FOR US SOMEDAY!”

“Have you really read all those books in your room?” Alaska, laughing- “Oh God no. I’ve maybe read a third of ‘em. But I’m going to read them all. I call it my Life’s Library. Every summer since I was little, I’ve gone to garage sales and bought all the books that looked interesting. So I always have something to read.”

“I hated cranberry sauce, but for some reason my mom persisted in her lifelong belief that it was my very favorite food, even though every single Thanksgiving I politely declined to include it on my plate.”

“Suffering is universal. it’s the one thing Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims are all worried about.”

“I am concussed.”

“But why Alaska?”, I asked her. She smiled with the right side of her mouth.”Well, later, I found out what it means. It’s from an Aleut word, Alyeska. It means ‘that which the sea breaks against’, and I love that. But at the time, I just saw Alaska up there. And it was big, just like I wanted to be. And it was damn far away from Vine Station, just like I wanted to be.”

*Edit: I do think the fox hat may have been a sort of wink at the reader (reminiscent of Holden Caulfield’s red hunting hat), if in fact the book was inspired by Catcher in the Rye, which (for the record) the author makes no mention of.

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You just have to get into YA once in a while. 🙂 Oh and yes, SPOILER ALERT. So, Mockingjay was not good, yet not bad. And yes, I read it this late ’cause it wasn’t out in the stores yet.


It seems like the author, Suzanne Collins sort of got lost while she was writing this. It’s like she was still figuring out the plot and it was published. Now, I don’t mean to say it is bad, it is pretty good, it has its moments yes, but I wanted so much more, especially with how I enjoyed Hunger Games. That was one in which she captured the emotions and beautifully crafted it, if small and simple.

The first thing is, she dragged it, until the end. It’s like everything happened at the end.  I did like the whole ‘getting into the final battle’ and how that was executed, but it was a flaky pace. It should’ve been more consistent. She shouldn’t have given us a large dose of action in the last 100-odd pages.

The three protagonists were a major let down for me. Katniss is a fighter. I expected a lot more form her. I agree, the way she handles Katniss’ break down because of people around her and Snow pretty well, but I needed more. I did enjoy how she handled depicting the war and not making Katniss some great heroine, but I wanted to see a little more action toward the end. Mainly, I didn’t want to see it from the eyes of a character on the sidelines. But, I do like that she put Katniss in the sidelines. I’m not trying to contradict myself here, I just like/dislike certain aspects of something.

Peeta. He was handled pretty well, with the mutt transformation and all that. It was a pretty good job.

Gale. It seemed like she forgot how she portrayed him in the first book. I miss that. I miss the Gale I really loved from book 1. She seemed to have developed his character based on how she wanted the story to end. He was vague before, yes, and I completely agree with his anger, but she sort of messed with his character.

Which brings me to the Love Triangle. Katnnis, Peeta and Gale. This frustrated me, really. I mean, Katniss’ emotions is understandable in Book 2, but honestly, the end just bothered me. I wanted her to make the choice. She should have the last word. She mustn’t just give up.  In fact, I would’ve been happier if she left it with Katniss confused, and all three of them in 13.

I enjoyed the war details and how they planned for the assassin. It was pretty good. And, I do wish she spent a little more in describing their deaths. That would have definitely made it better. But I did like the different ways of them dying. Speaking of deaths, she should’ve built Prim up as a character before killing her in a way that was to provide a giant reaction. No, it doesn’t come off like Dobby’s of Fred’s death. We knew them well enough to love them. Prim, no. She was a cute kid, a good sister, a good helper to the mother.

To conclude, I wouldn’t say I hated the book. It’s just that I had some expectations. Maybe Katniss being the great heroine was pretty unrealistic and this portrayal was good-ish, but I definitely wanted more.

Rating : 2.5/5

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“The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.
The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.”

And that is exactly what I plan to do, seeing as Fight Club itself is only the smallest of ideas in this insanity-inspiring novel.

Overview: Fight Club is an establishment conceived by the protagonist(unnamed) and one Tyler Durden for disaffected strangers to meet and use extreme physical agression as a vent for their dissatisfaction.All its members have a common contempt for societal organisation and yet are forced to deal with high society through their jobs and everyday lives. This gives birth to the more retaliatory idea of Project Mayhem, the fundamental concept behind which, is that all existing social sturcture must be broken down before one that is satisfactory to “all” can be built. This book examines the worst of humanity, but somehow manages to be entirely too believable and therein lies its real allure.

Themes:
The first several chapters of Fight Club that deal with the foundation of it and the atrocities that everyday people are capable of, while being graphic and disturbing, bring nothing particularly new to the table. A few chapters into the story, it becomes apparent that Palahniuk is a genius for his writing style- the brilliant use of repetition, the dark/sardonic humour and the non-linear progression of the story..all of which add to the general chaos. But ‘fight club’ the concept i.e., the idea of  ‘externalizing’ a problem -not to solve it necessarily, but to redirect the individual’s attention to another demanding but physical problem- is not especially original. So, while I enjoyed the style of writing, I kept asking “Where is the ‘dark, anarchic genius’ that the description promises?”. A few more chapters in, and I began to get my questions answered.

“You do the little job you’re trained to do.Pull a lever.Push a button.You don’t understand any of it, and then you just die.”

“My father never went to college so it was really important I go to college. After college, I called him long distance and said, now what?My dad didn’t know, so he said get a job.When I got a job and turned twenty-five, long distance, I said, now what? My dad didn’t know, so he said, get married.I’m a thirty-year-old boy, and I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer I need.”

From these excerpts and several others, it seems that existentialism drives the original, more simplistic fight clubs. The arguments that Tyler offers against consumerism and uneven distribution of wealth are plainly extemist, but what makes them so fascinating is that (oddly enough) they do offer some insight into the conception of  the Democracy. The common man’s resentment for this (perceived?) communal elitism accounts for his willingness  to partake in fight club, but of course, it gets much bigger than that.

“… another new fight club rule is that fight club will always be free. It will never cost to get in. “We want you, not your money. As long as you’re in fight club, you’re not how much money you’ve got in the bank. You’re not your job. You’re not your family, and you’re not who you tell yourself. You’re not your name. You’re not your problems. You’re not your age. You are not your hopes. You will not be saved. We are all going to die, someday.”

“It’s only after you’ve lost everything, that you’re free to do anything.”

“Maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer, maybe self-destruction is the answer.”

“Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don’t really need.”

“Disaster is a natural part of my evolution, toward tragedy and dissolution.”

The anarchy aspect really sets in with an offset of Fight Club, Project Mayhem- the Arson Committee (Mondays), Assault Committee(Tuesdays), Mischief Committee(Wednesdays), Misinformation Commitee(Thursdays)- all founded upon the same derision towards mainstream society.

“What Tyler says about the crap and the slaves of history, that’s how I felt. I wanted to destroy something beautiful I’d never have. Burn the Amazon rain forests. Pump chlorofluorocarbons straight up to gobble the ozone. Open the dump valves on supertankers and uncap offshore oil wells. I wanted to kill all the fish I couldn’t afford to eat, and smother the French beaches I’d never see. I wanted the whole world to hit bottom. Pounding that kid, I really wanted to put a bullet between the eyes of every endangered panda that wouldn’t screw to save its species and every whale or dolphin that gave up and ran itself aground.”

Project mayhem transforms Fight Club from a place of mindless escapism to a sinister organisation with a very defined object of hatred–consumerism. It is made possible through its members’ sense of failure for not having achieved success (which, unsurprisingly, they choose to define based on the very same consumerist values they oppose), and is the unifying factor that gives Fight club the numbers it needs to truly tear apart the fabric of society. I have to confess, though, that I’m not entirely convinced that this alone would give Fight Club the kind of membership (in terms of numbers) that it is described as having towards the end of the book, wherein the protagonist literally cannot get away from them.

*The protagonist: He is difficult to comprehend for about 2/3rds of the book, and it seems as though all the strange things he describes and the unusual narrative style are meant to be palatable simplybecause he is a bit twisted, but the last third of the book clears it up beautifully. We also never learn his name, which is interesting because this truly makes him ‘everyman’, struggling to find fulfillment. He is a person of no significance– until Fight Club.

Bottom-line: Poignant, satisfying plot-wise,  great writing style and brimming with ideas. Must read.

Miscellany:

*I actually wrote this at least a week ago, and then completely forgot about it.

* Belated Christmas wishes to everyone! ( And happy New Year in advance– just in case!)


 

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And…She’s still alive!

*deafening silence of no one caring*

Ahem. Moving On. So, due to the crappiness that is college, I don’t read as much as I used to, and even if I do read, I rarely manage to finish things. I did recently finish one book though.

The Age Of Innocence is a really, really well- written novel about New York society in the 1870s. I love the fact that the author was there, experiencing some of these things and seeing them first hand. It makes all the social commentary so much more believable.

The narrator is Newland Archer, a young man who has lived in the New York high society all his life and is well-acquainted with its customs,rules and traditions and loves them dearly. He loves his city and his society. The book opens with the announcement of his engagement to May Welland, a ‘proper’ young woman, who has been raised to play any role that is required of her, the blushing bride, the innocent girl, the doting wife. The announcement is hastened by the arrival of Ellen Olenska or Countess Olenska and her scandalous past. She makes Newland question his society and the way it works. After meeting her, he sees the shallowness and hypocrisy that prevails in it. The things that contented him and the things that he considered accomplishments, such as his engagement, seem to mean less than they used to and he begins to fear the fact that he may have to play a certain role and be stuck in a rut of conventionality (?) for all his life.

The author sketches interesting characters, all of which have personalities that are three-dimensional, even the supporting characters.

Some of my favorite quotes;

“‘Women ought to be free – as free as we are,’ he declared, making a discovery of which he was too irritated to measure the terrific consequences.”
– Book 1, Chapter 5, The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton

“In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs; as when Mrs Welland, who knew exactly why Archer had pressed her to announced her daughter’s engagement at the Beaufort ball (and had indeed expected him to do no less), yet felt obliged to simulate reluctance, and the air of having her hand forced, quite as, in the books on Primitive Man that people of advanced culture were beginning to read, the savage bride is dragged with shrieks from her parents’ tent.”
– Book One, Chapter 6, The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton

“It would presently be his task to take the bandage from this young woman’s eyes, and bid her look forth on the world. But how many generations of the women who had gone to her making had descended bandaged to the family vault? He shivered a little, remembering some of the new ideas in his scientific books, and the much-cited instance of the Kentucky cave-fish, which had ceased to develop eyes because they had no use for them. What if, when he had bidden May Welland to open hers, they could only look out blankly at blankness?”
– Book One, Chapter 10, The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton

“His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him; and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever to happen.”
– Book 1, Chapter 22, The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton

“She had spent her poetry and romance on their short courting: the function was exhausted because the need was past. Now she was simply ripening into a copy of her mother, and mysteriously, by the very process, trying to turn him into a Mr. Welland.” Chapter 30

“There was no use in trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she was not free; and he had long since discovered that May’s only use of the liberty she supposed herself to possess would be to lay it on the altar of her wifely adoration.” Chapter 20

“In the rotation of crops there was a recognised season for wild oats; but they were not to be sown more than once.”
– Book 2, Chapter 31, The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton

“There were certain things that had to be done, and if done at all, done handsomely and thoroughly; and one of these in the old New York code, was the tribal rally around a kinswoman about to be eliminated from the tribe.”
– Book 2, Chapter 33, The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton

Believe it or not, some of the things that happen in Newland’s society still happen today in India. I didn’t think they did,not in the cities anyway, but people at college have made me think otherwise. But, that’s another post. Anyway, this book is a must read!

In other related news, I’m reading Wideacre by Phillipa Gregory at the moment and the book is slightly disturbing, to say the least, but I can’t seem to put it down! Lets see how far I can make it before my hatred of the protagonist makes me chuck the book across the room or something.

That’s all I guess. Later my people.

PS: Only 5 days till the blog’s 2nd Birthday! Yay!

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