Friday, April 09, 2010

Short and Sweet

Short stories of fiction are beautiful. I find them better than novels. Novels twist and turn or drag and drone. Short stories are simple. Then constitute of a simple line of thought, often about simple feelings or people and places and pets and petals. They are about everyday life; talking of houses and relations and trees and cities. Hence I decided that the novel I write would consist of short stories. They would be stand alone short stories interwoven to constitute a novel.

All I need now is an underlying theme.











Glassy Eyes

I read The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. It was long and talked about lives of different people and different places. I like the cover design.

The title sounds nice. But I felt it lost its meaning mid way. I felt it could have been done better.

The story starts in Mandalay where Rajkumar works at a small stall on the streets and Dolly takes care of the second princess in the palace. The palace has a chamber full of mirrors and crystal decorations called the Glass Palace.

Rajkumar married Dolly much later in Ratnagiri and takes back to Burma where he owns a timber farm.

They are infinite number of characters, their relations, their children, their deaths, their engagements, and their experiences. Obviously there are a lot of people in this world! There is the world war and then the second and the Japs intrusion and the freedom struggle.

Rajkumar and Dolly’s younger son Dinu puts up a photo studio in Myanmar calling it the Glass Palace wear Jaya, the grandchild of the couple and Dinu’s brother daughter seeks him out to talk to him in order to write the story of Rajkumar or may be Uma (her great aunt).

Thus ends the story.

On point that surprises me is that almost every woman in this book is strikingly beautiful or the most beautiful woman her partner has ever seen. Dolly, Manju, Elsa, Allison, etc.

Somehow I found the book to be pointless at times. It seems like the story doesn’t want to end and hence never ends and finally a weak cloud of climax develops and calls itself the end.

Honestly, the ending would have been different. When Jaya goes to Burma to seek Dinu, I thought she found find Dinu passed away sometime back out of general illness, yet Dolly lives on in what is left of the ruins of the Glass Palace turned into monastery with the walls adorning the glass framed pictures taken by Dinu of everyone and everything that mattered to Dolly in her life before nunnery.

That would have been a more dramatic ending and definitely more reasonable justification for the title.

I don’t feel good criticizing the book though. The author’s note is very touchy. I do not mean to offend him or anybody. I’m just pouring out what I feel about the book.

A good read only if you are bored and stuck with nothing else. Even then, try to do something creative instead.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Edge of Chaos

I like that phrase ‘the edge of chaos’, whatever that means!

I completed ‘The Lost World’ by Michael Crichton.

No, I have not read ‘Jurassic Park’.

Yes, they are a sequence.

No, you don’t need to read the later to understand the former.

Yes, I watched both the movies.

No, I remember nothing except huge dinosaurs (and one type of small dino as well).

Even as I read the book I could not recollect the movie because I remember the movie to be dark and scary with random dinosaurs popping in everywhere. It was too random. And there were these two kids and Jeff Goldblum and one old man with a white hair and beard. And yeah, those huge beautiful waterfalls next to which the helicopter lands (Angel falls I believe).

No, there is no mention of the waterfalls near the helipad in the book.

It was really good to read some parts of the book where Ian Malcom talks. He talks about theories and ideas and how mankind never seemed to understand it all. He talks of how after your brain evolves enough your body stops evolving while your behavior starts evolving in order to adapt. He talks of why human beings cannot walk for an year after being born while most mammals can in a couple of days.

Malcolm’s last words in the book:

Human beings are so destructive. I sometimes think we’re kind of a plague, that will scrub the earth clean. We destroy things so well that I sometimes think, maybe that’s our function. Maybe every few eons, some animal comes along that kills off the rest of the world, clears the deacks, and lets evolution proceed to its next phase.

Michael Crichton is an amazing writer.

Ka Ching!

The Moneychangers by Arthur Hailey was, well honestly, a good read. It talked about something I could relate to sort of. It talked about banks and how they loan out money to companies and how the companies might not be surviving yet be able to manipulate balance sheets to put up a good show and of course how eventually all of them go down taking the banks down with them.

Interestingly real! Also it talked about how ambitions to the rise of power bite competition away. It talks of two men fighting to the president of a bank when one of them makes a big mistake of a big loan and gets sucked up into it ending in suicide. It beats me how the author makes the reader feel that it’s a mistake right from the beginning while the guy fails to see it himself but how he got so high up the ladder without being able to see such mistakes is an enigma to me! Oh also, the author makes sure the reader always takes one guy’s side. So now you have a good guy and a bad guy. The bad guy commits suicide at the end. The good guy is requested to president and he says ‘Oh I dunno…’. Well that’s end. It would have made a nice read except for…

What is also interesting is the side story of one wanna-be detective security VP of that very bank runs an assignment by sending an ex-employee ex-convict into a network of criminals to find the source of brilliantly counterfeited paper and plastic money, and also by putting in teller lady with brilliant memory and simple mathematical skills into a mediator position between the two because the guy can’t meet the security head but apparently it’s safe for him to meet this lady! And now our man does brilliant work. Of course it doesn’t matter that a certain other ex-convict had failed and ended up dead in a river for a week before the police found him.

But this novice of a man who spent 8months in prison does a brilliant job. Lucky for him his face gets burnt by acid. Lucky for him they let this lady and her baby girl off without killing them. Lucky for him she remembers the directions to this hide out when he was blindfolded in a car. And finally lucky for him she brings in FBI back there and he is saved and bad guys behind bars and our man our lady and little girl go off to California where they start all over again as new people, him with a new face that the bank pays for. Oh did I forget to mention, he didn’t go blind when the acid hit him!

Hmmm… Am I getting too old for this ‘masala ?