Thursday, April 30, 2009

Life Of Pi by Yan Martel

An out of the blue e-mail brought back to life memories of this immensely readable book that I had read a year or two ago. It was the orange and white flash on the cover and the use of Pi in the title that first attracted me to it. Once I started I could not bring myself to put it down except of course when one had to be at work. I enjoyed it so much so that I took to updating my husband on each day's progress. Finally when I finished this incredible story of personal perseverance and full blown adventure I had no doubts that it was a true story. I divulge this here because it actually does not take much away from your reading experience. Might even augment it a little.

Martel has done a fantastic job in making Piscine Patel (shortened to Pi Patel) and his improbable story true to life. Only when I did a little web research post reading that I realized that it was all really fiction. Aptly categorized:-) It is an incredible - did I use that already?- sea adventure that makes you sit up and pay attention to every detail. When I went to a book group meeting at the local church this was brought by someone and was received very well as a book enjoyed by all who read it. Read here to delve deeper into this Man Booker Prize winning book and its author. At the end especially after finding out that this was not based on one specific real story, I had this strange feeling that this will forever remain the author's best work. Some authors are one time wonders where the book is usually drawn from their own life which is what made it alive. This is not based on Martel's life, yet he was able to write it as if. Not sure if he can be as passionate and come alive in another such book. He will definitely need to crossover to full fantasy in the next and might be able to make it attractive in that genre. 'Life Of Pi' is rather on the cusp of being a fantasy and yet so real as to make silly me fall for it hook line and sinker! But hey, I am certainly not complaining:-)

Added Later:
Check here for a wonderful one liner from this book.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stones From The River & Never Let Me Go

Whoever stocked up our Library this time has done a pretty good job. Most of my random picks are true blue reads. The two books that follow are just great and I will recommend them to anyone in a heartbeat.

Stones From The River By Ursula Hegi
German born Ursula Hegi has written a splendid book that is superb in content, character development and history. Hegi tells the story of Trudi Montag, a dwarf woman living in that time straddled between the two world wars in a small German town called Burgdorf. She is also a Catholic and the community is made up of Catholics and Jews alike. You know where that can lead to in Nazi Germany. I have read many books on the holocaust. This is the first from the point of view of the ordinary German from those times. Ursula Hegi has succeeded where many others have failed. To present all the sides of a particular story fairly and accurately. I can't even begin to describe the way her characters develop over the years. If you read Jodi Piccoult as an instant gratification tool for a good character, then Hegi is for when you want to indulge in a story and go deep into each character. Trudi Montag and her widowed Dad Leo Montag will feel like like family members by the time you finish the book. Together, they run a pay-library that is their main livelihood. As a Zwerg - German for dwarf - it is just humbling to know everything that goes through Trudi's mind and to feel for yourself almost what it is like to live that life. Hegi does this all with an efficient but poignant style that manages to bind you in its simple magic. A true literary achievement. Read here for more reviews on the book.

Never Let Me Go By Kazuo Ishiguro
I knew I will get all of Ishiguro's books available in the Library. This second one just stopped me in my tracks with the very haunting name. I cannot really say what the book is all about as that will take away some of the enjoyment from your eventual reading. But this is essentially the story of three friends who reminisces about Hailsham, the institution where they all had their schooling while growing up. Kathy is the main narrator and Ruth and Tommy make up the trio. Like a critic described, now one can portray the sense of loss like Ishiguro. There are some holes in the story when you look back on it but that does not take away anything from this awesome treatise on human relationships and how they evolve. A word of warning. Don't read it if you are not in a happy mood. As it is, I am still struggling to come out of the overwhelming sadness that the book evoked in me when I finally finished it. Read here for more on the book. Time picked it as one of the 100 best English-language books.