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Krishna: A Journey Within

Krishna: A Journey WithinKrishna: A Journey Within by Abhishek Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brilliant artwork, simplicity throughout. A delight to read. Some pages soar to artistic expression that thrills while others seem like a kid playing with his favorite hero models. The text feels almost like an afterthought and I feel that I might just have enjoyed the book more if it was a set of silent stills and graphics with all meaning to be derived from your past readings while the imagery is being supplied by the author/artist.

Hardly anything is given any space in the book and it barely touches on the drama that is latent in it. This adds to the sense of a dreamy retelling that is not meant to amuse or to entertain but simply to lull you into a gentle nodding ascent, like how you used to listen to your grandmother tell these stories – the details never were to be told, they were to be enacted later in your imagination. The story plays out again and again only adding to itself by the dance of repetition and of adumbration. Abhishek has transmitted this sense of reading/listening into his artistry and catches us in that spell. This is certainly a rich successor to his previous works.

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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Book Reviews, Books

 

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The Girl With The Dragon Boots

Pippi LongstockingPippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

My Rating★★★★☆

Having read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, where Lisbeth is identified as a real world Pippi, I have been planning to read the supposed inspiration for a long time. For the first few chapters, it is hard to imagine how Larsson could have based the character of Lisbeth on Pippi. Eventually I learned to warp Pippi’s world and squeeze it into the supposedly real world filled with rapists and thieves, where little girls have no super strength to get by on. I could then start to see how Larsson could have imagined, reading Pippi as an adult, that each of pippi’s little ‘adventures’ could have been a tragedy. Out of a thousand, one might survive. He decided to write about that one, a modern-day Pippi. For, you probably still need Pippi’s attitude to survive in a modern-day Sweden even if you don’t have her super powers – Lisbeth might have been an orphan and a rebel just like Pippi, she might only have her hacking skills as a proxy for Pippi’s super-strength, but at the end of the day both could kick some ass.

The review you have just read above is meant to illustrate how my reading of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo influenced my reading of Pippi Longstocking. Is it fair to even think of Lisbeth and of Larsson’s interpretation of the tale while reading it? Probably not. I wish I could read it far away from Lisbeth’s shadow. Do I blame Larsson now for spoiling some good fun? Probably yes. I just wish I had read Astrid first – of course I might never have heard of Pippi if not for Larsson. This is an issue I have faced with many books where the source is as enjoyable as the book that referred me to it, but less enjoyable for having read the referring work. How to get around this? Shall I drop everything and run to a bookstore the moment the slightest footnote pops up? They better stock up before I read Ulysses then.

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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Book Reviews, Books, Thoughts

 

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Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair GameMoneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

My Rating★★★☆☆

It was a better story before I knew the whole story.

Almost every book on randomness I have read had a reference to Moneyball and I had built up my own version about this story (I had even told a few people that version!) and it imagined everybody doing what Billy Beane was doing, and Billy Beane doing some sort of probability distribution among all players and randomly picking his team, winning emphatically, and thus proving that a truly random pick of players is the equivalent of a true-simulation of the market and just like how no considered selection of stock picks can ever outperform the market in the long run, a truly random representation of the baseball market cannot be outperformed by the interventionist methods of other teams over a long season. That is the story I wanted to hear. My apologies to anyone to whom I have spouted this story – it is not true. It is still probable though, when the next radical Billy Beane comes along in sports.

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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Book Reviews, Books, Thoughts

 

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A World Out of Time by Larry Niven

A World Out of TimeA World Out of Time by Larry Niven

My Rating★★☆☆☆

Too much of Brave New World to start off with and too similar to The Time Machine (with the master and slave races thread) for the rest of the book. It is tough to keep a book together with only one interesting character, especially when it is not the main character, and sticks around for less than a third of the story. All in all, the book had me bored out of my senses waiting for something new to happen.

Maybe it was a mistake to not read Ringworld first. It is going to be hard for me to come back to Niven after this drudge-fest.

And no I did not get enough Future Shock to kill a whole city of Alvin Tofflers.

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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Book Reviews, Books

 

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The Penelopiad or The Ballad of the Dead Maids

The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and OdysseusThe Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

This has been my introduction to Atwood and I have to admit that I feel slightly underwhelmed. I went in with high expectations, wondering how Atwood will take the ‘waiting widow’ of The Odyssey and transform it into a full length novel. Turns out that she mostly indulges in recapitulating the bulk of the original with a few wild theories and speculations thrown in as supposed rumors that Penelope has gleaned in the after-life.

Which brings me to how the story is constructed and this happens to be the high water mark for this novel. Atwood starts with Penelope addressing us from the other side of River Styx, reaching us through the mysterious sounds of the night and the barks and hoots of unseen animals. Penelope has grown bold since her death and is no longer the meek woman we saw in the original but a bold one who doesn’t mind speaking her mind and spilling a few uncomfortable beans.

Penelope subjects all the popular characters of the odyssey to scrutiny but reserves a special attention for Odysseus, Telemachus and Helen. She convinces us with case-by-case analysis that Odysseus was no hero – he was a lying and conniving manipulator of men who never uttered one truthful word in his life. She talks of rumors that told her of what his real adventures were, stripped of the trappings of myth. Telemachus becomes a petulant teenager full of rebellion against his mother and Helen becomes the ultimate shrew, seductress and a femme fatale of sorts.

But the story that Atwood really wants to tell is not of Penelope, that story is hardly changed except to assert speculations on the original text whether Penelope really saw through Odysseus disguise or not. What if she did? It hardly changed the story.

The real twist, and the only reason to take up this book is to see Atwood’s exploration and reinvention of the twelve maids who were killed by Odysseus in punishment for betraying him by sleeping with the suitors. These twelve girls are the Chorus in this book and appear every now and then playing a baroque accompaniment to the text and giving us new perspectives on their story. This carries on until Penelope herself reveals to us that they were never betraying Odysseus, she had asked them herself to get acquainted with the suitors to get obtain information for her. They had never betrayed Odysseus or his kingdom. So their murder was just that – murder. This was Atwood’s plot twist and her intended question was about the morality of this ‘honor killing‘ as she calls the hanging of the slaves, which, she confesses in the foreword, used to haunt her when she was young – ‘Why were they killed?‘, she used to ask herself and tries to present their case in this modernized version (which even includes a 23rd century trial of Odysseus).

In the end though, the reader hardly gets anything beyond these idle speculations and supplemental myths and small factoids like how Helen was really Penelope’s cousin and that they have to eat flowers in Hades. Even the main point of the book, about the dead maids, too ignores the fact that Odysseus genuinely seems to believe that they betrayed him by helping the suitors in various ways and hence it becomes as question of misinformation than morality and the blame will fall back on the shoulders of Penelope herself, rendering this whole exercise moot. Just go read the original again; the short hops of imagination that Atwood has taken in this retelling can easily be overtaken by the leaps you might make yourself in a re-reading that you might treat yourself to on a leisurely sunday afternoon – and those will surely be more impressive as well as intellectually more rewarding.

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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Book Reviews, Books, Thoughts

 

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The Mad & The Bad: Your Daily Dose of Entertainment

The MAD Project

The Movie-A-Day Project

 

Enjoy with MAD

 

A New Movie Recommendation will be updated here every day. Every day will be allotted a genre after the first week of MAD is completed.

The archives will be updated in the MAD page accessible from the “Movies ” menu above.

The recommendation will be followed by a small overview, a micro review from me on why I think you should watch it and excerpts from reviews in popular review sites.

Today’s MAD Recommendation

MOVIE: GET SHORTY

IMDb link: Get Shorty (1995) – IMDb

IMDb General Rating: 6.9/10

My IMDb Rating: 7/10

Genre: Crime, Comedy

Plot:

Chili Palmer is a loan shark working out of Miami, but he really doesn’t like it. He hates having to work with scum, especially Ray “Bones” Barboni, a local wiseguy who has been feuding with Chili for 12 years over a leather coat. Truth be told, Chili would much rather be making movies.

So when a dry-cleaner named Leo who owes Chili a few thousand dollars fakes his own death, rips-off his insurance company and heads for L.A., Chili sees a golden opportunity.
Partnering with Harry Zimm, a small-time producer most famous for his “Slime Creatures” series, and Karen Allen, a former scream-queen who desperately wants to produce, Chili plans to make a major motion picture starring two-time Academy Award-winner Michael Weir.

But there’s a few little problems with getting “Mr. Lovejoy” into production: Ray Bones has come to town, looking for Chili and the few grand that Leo owes him. Harry Zimm owes money to a group of drug-dealers led by Bo Cattlett, a criminal who is as ruthless as he is stupid. A gang of Colombian smugglers are sniffing around looking for their money, which is currently in an airport locker under D.E.A. surveillance, and, perhaps worst of all, Michael Weir is more interested in making a movie about Chili Palmer than he is in a Harry Zimm picture…

 

Reviews:


“Practically perfect in its unpretentious way, MGM’s Get Shorty is the kind of smart, witty, polished entertainment that restores one’s faith in the studio system.” — Film.com

“Hailed by many critics as one of the best films of 1995, this finely tuned black comedy sparked a renewed interest in movies based on books by prolific crime novelist Elmore Leonard, whose trademark combination of tight plotting and sharp humor is perfectly captured here.” — rottentomatoes


Why You should Watch it:

  1. First of all, look at the cast – John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito.
  2. Then of course Elmore Leonard, need I say more?

Why I loved it:

  1. For it’s intriguing and sarcastic take on how movies are made.
  2. For the Awesome Climax!
  3. For the comic timing of Travolta
  4. Mostly because I loved the book!
Warning: If you prefer books to movies, you should try the book first!

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The BAD Project

The Book-A-Day Project

 

A New Book Recommendation will be updated here every day. A short overview, a personal explanation and excerpts from popular reviews of the book will be included.

 

Which one to Pick???

Today’s BAD Recommendation

BOOK: STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

GoodReads link: Stranger in a Strange Land

GoodReads General Rating: 3.75/15

My GoodReads Rating: 5/5

Genre: Science Fiction, Novel


Stranger in a Strange Land

 

Plot:

Stranger in a Strange Land is the epic saga of an earthling, Valentine Michael Smith, born and educated on Mars, who arrives on our planet with psi powers – telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, telekinesis, teleportation, pyrolysis, and the ability to take control of the minds of others – and complete innocence regarding the mores of man.

After his tutelage under a surrogate-father figure, Valentine begins his transformation into a messiah figure. His introduction into Earth society, together with his exceptional abilities, lead Valentine to become many things to many people: freak, scam artist, media commodity, searcher, free-love pioneer, neon evangelist, and martyr.

Heinlein won his third Hugo award for this novel, sometimes called Heinlein’s earthly “divine comedy.

 

Reviews:


“The first half of this novel is so amazing to me… The story of Valentine Michael Smith’s re-introduction to Earth life is such a great view of humans from the outside, that I can see why this book affected a generation. It poetically shows us our strengths, and our flaws. …oh that first half…”  — Deven Science

“A brilliant mind-bender.”–Kurt Vonnegut.


Why You should Watch it:

  1. Have you ever heard the word “Grok” and wondered what it is? Like many influential works of literature, Stranger made a contribution to the English language: specifically, the word “grok
  2. The Characters – Jubal and Smith are probably the two most powerful characters you will come across in science fiction literature.
  3. To understand Iron Maiden
  4. I think you get it – The book is too influential to not be read!

Why I loved it:

  1. “Although the narrative of Stranger in a Strange Land operates on many different levels, one obvious interpretation of Mike’s story would be as a postmodern retelling of the Jesus story. Before the novel even begins, we see that the title of Part One is “His Maculate Conception,” a satirical reference to the mythology of Christ’s immaculate conception.”
  2. The philosophy of it. it captivated me. How Heinlein managed to show us humanity seen from a stranger’s eyes…
  3. Also, I couldn’t stop using “I Grok You” to everybody for days 🙂
  4. The Book’s take on sexuality… Hmm, I don’t think I will elaborate on that now.

 

That is it for today folks! See you tomorrow! Hope you enjoy the picks!


PS. For readers from inside campus, a small bonus package is provided! The movie and the book can be lent from me personally from my username at DC++, please understand that I am only lending you the copy and you are advised to delete the copy of the movie/book after usage. The details will be updated along with the posts.

Disclaimer: This blog does not support the propagation of pirated material in any way and the books and movies are to be lent on a personal basis only. [Just in case :)]

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Posted by on February 13, 2011 in Book Reviews, Books, Movie Discussions, Movie Reviews, Movies

 

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