Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The World Is Too Much With Us

William Wordsworth was one irritated man with the fast pace of the world. That was nearly 200 years ago.
 I am not sure with how much horror he would react to the world in 2016 but I can safely assume that he wouldn't be amused. WW started something spectacular in the wake of the Industrial Revolution with his collection of eclectic poetry (people in his time were horrified with his simplistic- return-to-the-barn style) along with his doped up genius friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The movement, Romanticism had nothing to do with romance in the mundane use of the word. Instead, like Transcendentalism, it urged man to go back to his roots_ nature. The splendours of the natural world are the only truth and man is but a little part of something much greater than himself.
I recently moved into a new apartment block and had some Comcast guys over to connect me to the spidery yarn(... just my superfluous way of saying the internet). There were wires to be connected and things to be tested and so much at stake for all my toys to come alive that I felt old William whispering in my head something I had read for my masters' poetry course a few years back. Have a read. What do you think?

The World is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon, 
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;— 
Little we see in Nature that is ours; 
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! 
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; 
The winds that will be howling at all hours, 
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; 
For this, for everything, we are out of tune; 
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be 
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; 
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, 
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; 
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; 
Or hear old Triton blow his wreath├Ęd horn.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Goodreads Challenge

If you are having a minor fling or even an all out affair with books, well you aren't the only hopeless loser in the history of the entire history ... Books command attention (Michael Crichton's any book), give sleepless nights (Stephen King) , make you cry (Wuthering Heights), squeal with laughter, put you on a cloud of wonder (too many to count) and can lead you to ravenous murdering rampages (Catcher in the Rye). The spectrum of emotion is limitless and ages like good pickles.

This year I took up the GoodReads reading challenge. I read and listen to books. Sometimes this and sometimes that. So far, out of the 50 books that I pledged, I am somewhere nearing 18 going on 19. This is not too bad considering the mister and myself have uprooted ourselves as Ents (LOTR reference) and hopped over two continents to settle nicely into a Dublin which is not in Ireland but actually in sunny California!

I have already posted reviews of two of the books in this list and will be posting more soon. If you want to start with the challenge yourself, it's not too late. It never is. I wistfully thought that if I could read a book a week, I would ... but it doesn't work that way.

Big Book - Just a little left

It ain't about the quantity but the quality. So whatever the number, share the good, the bad and the uglies that you've read/ would like to read this year.
For those who want to see my inventory:Goodreads Challenge

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Lions of Lucerne ... the title is much too promising

I am a devourer of all things thrilling and mysterious. How much alluring can one get with a title like Lions of Lucerne? Being on the Audible bestseller and having rave reviews: (“Quite possibly the next coming of Robert Ludlum”.Chicago Tribune) , this book was being compared to the likes of Clancy, here is where my excitement was peaked and also where the trouble started. 

A spy thriller, packed with action, the novel is pretty straightforward in its premise. The American President is kidnapped in a highly skillful mission on the ski slopes outside Park City, Utah and  his secret service all put to ice except the Scot Harvath, a 20-something ex- Navy Seal. Scot valiantly saves the President's daughter but lands as suspect number 1 in a conspiracy that is both internal and transcends to another continent. The novel is fast paced and the reader is constantly bombarded with the threat of imminent danger, yet the danger disappoints. Infact, the sub plots which allow the whole story to come together are so loosely woven (the gay senator and the South African wine connection) that the web is not strong enough to hold. The end wraps up too quickly and too suddenly. 

Ironically, the title is misleading too. The reader keeps wondering about the connection till way past the halfway mark. Then, we get to know that it has nothing at all to do with the greater context of the book at all. The kidnappers are shown to be multiple steps ahead of CIA, FBI and Secret Service combined, and there is an alluring quality to the main antagonist, however this is not dealt in with enough detail. Too much is left to chance. We know too little and what we know is repeated again and again. Before we know it, the reader can see that the dialogues and scenes have become cliched and too mechanical. Yet, this being Brad Thor's first novel, I would have commended him on his work had I simply not detested Scot Harvath.


Meet Scot Harvath_ the punching bag. A very angry punching bag. He's been hit by an avalanche, has concussions, bruises, broken ribs and bullet holes in his body, yet nothing seems to slow him down. He is like a wine that gets sour as time goes by. He is brave and strong to the point of it being comedic! Imagine a trampoline with Scot Harvath on it. His body is bashed with high speed crushing snow, he bounces back up, he gets knocked around, bounces back up, he get knifed, bounces back up, he gets shot, bounces back up. Thor does little for his character who is a hot headed irrational and static character, near to emotionless except brief insights, nearly slivers of his personality. Scot Harvath is not likeable nor is he relatable. He is far from an Ethan Hunt or Jack Ryan, and he is far from being a real hero and for that he is very much forgettable.


Lions of Lucerne_ could have been so much more.

Lisey's Story

I am a newly initiated Stephen King fan. Lisey's Story is my third book and I have not read his early works. From reviewers to critics, Lisey's Story comes as unKingly but I believe since I don't have the shadow of his other works hanging around, I could give a different perspective.

Lisey's Story, for me not a horror but more of a psychological investigation (I wouldn't term it as a thriller either). The action was minimalistic and the story was mainly driven by the protagonist, Lisey's flashbacks and memories. The widow of a celebrated author, Scott Landon, through Lisey's mind, the reader delves into dynamics of a marriage that is not very simple.

We are shown the brilliance of Scott Landon's genius as well as the weaknesses and cracks that lie just beneath the surface. Her husband has a family history of some psychological illness that we are not really sure of. This illness is so severe that it leads Scott to do things that he is going to have to live the consequences for, for the rest of his life. But that is not all. What haunts him, is also his muse. Call it Neverland, or Narnia or in his childhood makeup work, Boo'ya Moon, Scott travels to another land which is full of sweet delights and rewards but can also be equally dangerous. This land will give him refuge but also eat at his sanity.

Lisey pines for her husband who has been dead for two years when the story first starts. She needs to clean out her husband's things_unfinished manuscripts, journals, memorabilia. The reader empathises the need for hanging on to the things of people who are no longer with us. Lisey is a strong woman with a sensible head and that makes her easy to relate to when she submerges herself into the other-world of her husband's imagination. The novel weaves in the past and present as she struggles to overcome her trepidations and to ward off the eminent attack of a psychopath.

The novel is beautifully written. There is no doubt about it. If you read reviews online, the verdict is an extreme, either readers have loved it or hated it. Avid fans of King, have come away repelled. SK acknowledges the fact that his favourite and most personal book has not been taken in well. In his afterword he mentions that many people wonder what his editor was doing and in his defence he says that the book could not be further edited, and with more skill. I like the fact that SK stands up for his work and writes not to please but to create.

Good things are not perfect. I think they shouldn't be. The flaws are sometimes just as powerful and sometimes it takes a level of maturity for the reader to grasp that they aren't flaws at all. However, I do share some misgivings with other readers out there, mainly,  his repeated use of some words, like smucking, Manda Bunny, Boo'ya, bad gunky, babyluv (list goes on). Somewhere in the middle of this book it did tick me off but on the whole it's just a little to forgive for something that holds much depth. One has to remember that we are looking not into an adult mind but also through the eyes of a very young Scott who has partly not grown up. King uses just the perfect language, simple and graceful for the telling. He can write the three year old, the eight year old, the middle aged man who thinks like his ten year old self and a woman who has lost and needs to overcome grief. I am just amazed at the structuring of this novel. Inside Lisey's head, the present blooms memories of the past and the forgotten. This then gives passage to the present again and wakes Lisey's inaction into movement. The past and the present and the need to shape the future are dealt with an expertise of a BlackJack dealer.

SK does not mar the pages with literary devices but subtly weaves them in. The color purple, the hot sweltering weather, the cold fury of Maine and the looming sickening beauty of the moon in Boo'ya Moon builds an alluring darkness in the background. There are things which are always looming around the pages, the Afghan (Scott calling it the African) which Lisey's mother had woven as a wedding present, or the silver spade which literally and symbolically digs Lisey and Scott out of the clutches of death.

The book could have been shorter. Definitely shorter. There were times in the last quarter where I felt that the story should end here. Too much explanation or resolution just makes the story forgettable and Lisey's story falls victim to that. When a good book ends, I like to think about it, to slowly go back in my head and digest things and to make connections which I missed whilst reading. SK you should've known that less is more.

Nevertheless, the novel is filled with poetic passages which redeems all the bad-gunkiness. Some of the lines are heart achingly beautiful.

“Sometimes she'd go a whole day without thinking of him or missing him. Why not? She had quite a full life, and really, he'd often been hard to deal with and hard to live with. A project, the Yankee oldtimers like her very own Dad might have said. And then sometimes a day would come, a gray one (or a sunny one) when she missed him so fiercely she felt empty, not a woman at all anymore but just a dead tree filled with cold November blow. She felt like that now, felt like hollering his name and hollering him home, and her heart turned sick with the thought of the years ahead and she wondered what good love was if it came to this, to even ten seconds of feeling like this.” 

 or

“Because who would ever want to get close to another person if they knew how hard the letting-go part was? In your heart they only die a little at a time, don't they? Like a plant when you go away on a trip and forget to ask a neighbor to poke in once in awhile with the old watering-can, and its so sad—” 

SK's prose expresses some stark truths, some questions, some answers and yet some more questions. What the reader takes away is that a beautiful relationship is not without its own trials, that a love that lives for decades changes its forms and may be lost and found, that a love could transcend the span of a lifetime and beyond.

If I were to describe Lisey's Story by using a passage from itself_

“And the purple parted before it, snapping back like skin after a slash, and what it let out wasn't blood but light: amazing orange light that filled her heart and mind with a terrible mixture of joy, terror, and sorrow. No wonder she had repressed this memory all these years. It was too much. Far too much. The light seemed to give the fading air of evening a silken texture, and the cry of a bird struck her ear like a pebble made of glass. A cap of breeze filled her nostrils with a hundred exotic perfumes: frangipani, bougainvillea, dusty roses, and oh dear God, night-blooming cereus... And rising above one horizon came the orange mansion of the moon, bloated and burning cold, while the sun sank below the other, boiling in a crimson house of fire. She thought that mixture of furious light would kill her with its beauty.” 

In years to come, this novel will stand the test of time.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Misgivings and Procrastinations

Perfect beginning and perfect ends, great stories and earth-grating ideas. This is what stops one from writing. For me, it is the wonderfully wrapped box, which a child is afraid to open lest his dreams come crashing down to discover a piece of sensible clothing instead of a toy that he so longed for. So, he prolongs it as much as possible to savour the dizzying feeling of anticipation. Soon, the gift gets lost in the mundane meanderings of life and years go by... until, one day whilst cleaning things in the attic, the eye spies a shiny wrapper. Curiosity urges the dust-shrivelled fingers to coax the sticky grimy tape off the wrapper. With the rustle of the paper, a memory emerges of the gift that was once presented but unopened, misgivings and doubt that were too great to handle. Now that the years have painted more lines around the body, more corners than edges, the mind is wiser to know that it is none-the-wise. It matters only that what was inside, was to derive joy, it was to give and it was to receive.

Many eons ago, I had read an essay on the follies of writing. The author had made a compelling case against amateurs writing and filling their two-cents worth of ideas out in the world and filling it with garbage. It had also said something of the lines that whatever one may do, one will not achieve the greatness of the writers of yonder years because this generation is too polluted and are the breeds of incunks.

That was the time I contracted a strong strain of Idiotoviridae where upon whatever I wrote was never good enough. I was my own best critic and a very fastidious one at that. My other good chum was no other than Procrastination who with cahoots with the Critic went on a joy ride for the better part of half a decade. They almost made it into the dusky, drowsy sunset.

Almost.

There are somethings inside a person that are stronger than misgivings. It lies in the corner of the top most cabinet of the kitchen where you shoved it and can barely touch it now with the tips of your fingers. There is just barely enough light in that dim, web engorged quarter to make out the shadow of its existence. I know it's there. I've been tempted to fetch it many a times. I even know that it is the best of all my belongings. And that is what is scary. The What-Ifs are just so many... so so many.

The quandary nearly deafening, I tremble, stretch and grasp. Initially, it is just air and cobwebs and dust. I push my toes to the very tip until my nails dig into the tiles all-ballerina-style and just touch enough of it to give it shove.

That shove _my ramblings, I present to you. Whoever you may be.





Thursday, 5 January 2012

Of Maiming or Because I said So!


I got up today.
Ready to take on the world.
By mid afternoon my head was spinning in multitudinous directions. I started grumbling and bitching in my own head. To get over it I started day dreaming about the next season of Dexter and how would he get out of explaining to his sister (who is in love with him) about the murder she sees him committing and .........
and wham
I could swear it was someone inside me.
The only thing he said was "Seriously????"
I was stunned for a moment. Jumped out of my chair and started pacing and realised that something inside of me was screaming!
Zahra! Good God! Has it come to this? Are you stupid? You ridiculous old senseless ..... umm (and other inappropriate words to myself).

We are conditioned to be parasites from birth.
We are spoon-fed at school. I remember getting lower grades at school because I didnt copy the answer exact same to same from the text book. I used to pour over my answers and question my teachers but I was just told to 'print' my answers.
I was not allowed to question.
When I found some idea contradictory, I was not allowed to contradict.
When I found something new that the teacher didnt know, I was rebuked.
When something did not get through my skull, I was called stupid and told to memorize.
("Who has heard of "other" teaching methods?")
I was told to respect the teachers I didnt respect.
I was told to do things that I was not taught to do and expected to do them like a craftsman.

I was told....
I was ordered...
I was told....
I was ordered...
I was ordered...
.................and I was told not to "THINK".
My elders had already done the thinking for me.

False doctrines were ingrained and hammered into us :
Not tell the truth cause it will hurt others.
Not share ideas that are different, it may cause outrage and ostracism.
I was told to understand and compromise that which I thought was false.


and as I thought about me and my generation being maimed, I realised its been like a vicious circle. This story has probably been going on for generations. Those who realised it, got liberated. Those who didnt, are right now watching Star Plus ke saas bahu dramey and crying over them or busy 'poondying' at girls the age of their kids' or sitting frustrated at some frustrating place doing frustrating work and wishing to just get some sleep without the power going out.
By the time I have finished writing and editing this, they will be calling up their friends and chittering chattering about "oh do you know!"es or sippping tea and watching the latest atrocities on the news or watching cricket (depends if there is a live match going on and lots of gambling to be done or not) or yelling at things and people who are inconsequential or...or ...or ...or...

Incidently I read this and I dont care how long it takes, just shut up and read it!
I have "ORDERED it!."
and do it because "I HAVE SAID SO.!!"
and do it because "I AM TELLING YOU TO!!!."
and because "I KNOW BETTER!!!!." and you DON'T!!!!
so dont you dare........OR ELSE!!!


and for the season finale quote.....
They advertise not to waste electricity. How about advertising about the one thats in everyone's brain?


Conflict....

Its Thursday morning and a weekend here in the cold desert that I have come to call home. Was aimlessly wandering in the web of the web and came across another Robert Frost poem; and wondering why haven't come across it till now. It goes like this.

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

WHAT the #$%^$^ is going on?


What the *bleep* is going on with people?
I usually get up bright and early at the crack of dawn, make myself a cup of tea and open google chrome. Check my mails, browse through a couple of newspapers, read the highlights on answers.com and … and ... turn facebook on.
I procrastinate going to this ultra ridiculous website. I admit that I am not the biggest fan of facebook. Infact one of the only truly useful features are the photo album and the marketplace. Apart from its roaring merits… which are that it has totally commercialized friendship and becoming like a big "IN" "CoOooL!" brand… are that it has promoted the human race from a telly tubby couch potato to the high-tech PC cabbage.
  There are these countless applications, quizzes, kisses and hugs and chocolates and cakes and blah blah blah and God-knows-whats that allow you to …hmmm do something. Something like wasting time.
 
 Who makes these things? And on top of that I am amazed at who actually uses them?
 
 Ok this was a roar! Your name is in the top ten SEXY names of ALL TIME!?
Hahahahaaaaa!
For those of you who are curious, the name that I erased is totally alien to a majority of the people in the world. And the thing to think here is what makes a name sexy? By what scale or measure?
 
Comeon! Seriously….comeon!
How many emails and spams etc have we seen this in!
 
 Seriously?
“A hero! Sigh! What about my superpowers of thinking that are getting wasted by doing this stupid quiz?”
  I hear these remarks that ‘Oh no… facebook is so much fun!’, ‘You are being too cynical’ and ‘It’s a good time pass’. And there are those that hear me out but then go home and laze away on the website for hours anyway.  It has created a sad isolation. 
The sport and activity that allowed our bodies and minds to create and simply have fun is replaced with a keyboard and a monitor. Its just sad. 
This is a comment I read on another website: By Facebook you find friends... Is it really true? All of them who are named as your friends on Facebook, are they your friends in real life? If you have friends in real life do you need Facebook? I don't think so. 
  We have mastered a lot of things …and I mean a LOT of things. I am still at times literally in awe of the machine that warms my food all the time to the one that brings the electricity to my home. But even though we are at an epoch , we are still sitting in that chair and giggling to senseless things. We have lost sight of the valuable and the important.  We have lost control … no rather forgotten ourselves.
It is truly truly the ultimate sin.
Because of all things in existence…
We are the ultimate creation.