Friday, April 16, 2010

Harry Potter - Yes, again!

I can't thank reflections enough for being staunch in her stand about the Potter books. I have finished all 7 of them and am completely bowled over. I guess it is one series that I don't need to waste words on for people to read it. This is for those with this giant block to get over when thinking of reading a fantasy book that seems infiltrated with magic. What can it offer other than wild creatures and things that do not make sense to the normal person? JK Rowling deserves all the accolades she has received and more. She has woven this fantastic tale about the young boy who always chooses love so well that I could not imagine the series coming to an end. Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore and Severus Snape are all still very much part of conversations with my son as we pull out imaginary wands and throw out spells at each other whenever. It is great fun I'd say. 'expelliarmus', impedimenta', 'stupefy', 'crucio' and 'avada kedavra' seems to be the most popular around here. Rowling skillfully wove together Harry's magical world with an easy to relate school life full of pranks and teachable moments. She structured the books ingenuously and brought the whole story together with ease. Harry's trips on the Hogwarts Express to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry reminded me of all those train journeys that I took during the undergrad years. We were divided into 4 houses in my school too but with names likes Red, Yellow, Green and Blue. I know, I know, nothing like Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherins or Hufflepuffs but it brought back some wonderful  memories:-) Rowling's usage of every word as it refers to magic are chosen with care for their simple elegance. She is quite unparalleled in her command on words and ability to unerringly create the right environment for each of the events. I can go on and on but of course it is not necessary. If you Muggles haven't read one, it is time to go look for one. It will bring out the child in you and yet the adult in you is equally mesmerized . The Lady is awesome! She knows her material and knows what it does for her readers. The dementors of Azkaban was particularly interesting.

Er.. Did you know that the members of the Black family are all named after stars from the constellation? The Weasley  family names came mostly from King Arthur. The charming and intelligent Hermione whose portrayal was what first pulled me into the series is loosely based on the author herself. Ok I have to stop somewhere and this is as good a place as any....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

March by Geraldine Brooks

By now books in our Library seem to know what it is that I am searching for. There is no other explanation for how this book jumped into my hands. True, there was the golden Pulitzer Prize sticker on the front page but still...  It must be the dog eared look that did it.

It was surprising to find out that the 'March' of the title is not the month and not a parade event but Mr.March from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Yes, Geraldine Brooks has made this irreproachable book around the mostly absent father of the four delightful girls. Brooks is generously endowed with talent which is evident as soon as you read a few pages. Soon we shed all the inhibitions of reading about a known character because the story that evolves can stand very well on its own. We rarely meet the family except through the letters from Mr. March. He writes regularly from the war front (American Civil War) on the side of the Yankees where he serves as a Chaplain. It is is his second time in the South which he had traversed as a salesman in his youth. This time around however, things are different and circumstances more complicated. As the war progresses we move with March to learn of his past and how it changes his present relationships. Family endures and by the time we meet Mrs.March coming to take care of her invalid husband in the hospital we would have gone through a lifetime worth of experiences ourselves. A classic of a book where the literary environment created by the author is simply not to be missed.

A second book
BTW, I just finished Gentleman &Players by Joanne Harris. It is a riot of a read. A fun yet serious murder mystery woven around an old prep school called St. Oswalds. In this Kazuo Ishiguro'esque novel Harris relies on her British background and it has paid off. Please guys, if you are in for a light and fun read, look no further.