Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Snow Child By Eowyn Ivey

Just finished reading this magical book . More than two thirds of the book is pure unadulterated writing at its best. Felt like a combination of Pearl S Buck (Good Earth, to be specific) and  Hemingway (for the non-flowery but engaging style of writing) of all people! I can assure you with confidence that it will be difficult for you to put it down once you start. There is no starting trouble for this one. You are in from page one! Then, depending on what held your interest, you might feel a let down towards the end. As if the book's end compromised on the enormous promise it held at the beginning. Not a show stopper though.This is Eowyn Ivey's first book but the writing feels more like pure gold formed over burning hot coal. The book is populated by catchy stories and evolving characters, not to mention pure magic threaded through the story fabric. I love this book. I do. Ivey has a master hand in what she does which is obvious from early on. Magical realism has never been so real for me. Story revolves around Mabel and Jack moving up to remote Alaska to farm virgin land and the mystery child who enters their lives as if through a snow fall. Let me just quote a few lines here for the yet hesitant: "She could not fathom the hexagonal miracle of snowflakes formed from clouds, crystallized fern and feather that tumble down to light on a coat sleeve, white stars melting even as they strike. How did such force and beauty come to be in something so small and fleeting and unknowable?" I have only advise for you now. Please do not skip lines. Each line is imbibed with a beauty that should be devoured slowly. I have splattered superlatives all over this post which is not at all how Ivey handles her prose. In her hands words are like pliable mud formed so dexterously into what she wants. Ok, I'll stop babbling but I hope you got the point. And remember not to be too disappointed at the end. It is still enjoyable, just not as much as the majority of it. That is all.

On other news, see what my girl got on her hands with the henna kit we got from amazon? She saw it on a friend's hands who had gone to India, waited for summer to come since school won't allow it, reminded me promptly and went for it. It was fun. Took me back some days...

We then topped it off with a strawberry pattern on the nails that I had seen somewhere! My little customer was as happy as a butterfly!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hemingway's Boat

I wasn't always a great fan of Ernest Miller Hemingway despite the Nobel Prize win. Had read some of his books long time back and it was not as satisfying as I had thought.  'Farewell To Arms' notwithstanding. Yet, the man is well respected and much loved by Americans as one of the great writers this country produced besides Faulkner, Fitzgerald and the likes. I had bought two of his books to own too. So it was that I re-read 'The Old Man And The Sea' on a recent whim. Now I am not sure why I didn't like it before. It is a good read except for a few pages that are like the last chapter of Hesse's Siddhartha albeit in the form of the interminable wait in the sea with one man and the one fish he wants to catch:-) Maybe I missed the warm relationship between the boy and the old man earlier because that is what anchored me this time. I was still in the throes of catching that Marlin when I saw this biography of Hemingway written by Paul Hendrickson in the library. It came home with me and took much longer than expected to finish. But let me tell you, you need to read this book if you have any liking for Hemingway and would like to know the man behind the author. Hendrickson, an accomplished writer in his own right has done a well researched and in-depth portrayal of Hemingway. He is not just that man with the long white beard and the benign smile anymore for me. Ernest H had a very interesting and tormented life. He tried to enjoy life to the fullest until he took it away himself one day in 1961 at the age of 61. Apparently he was following a family trait in this matter. He had a strong personality that was difficult to ignore and was a contemporary of many other great writers with whom he was well acquainted.

What Hendrickson tries to do is to divide Hemingway's' life into two parts. He postulates and lays out valid points to show that the author's style of writing changed after he bought his boat 'Pilar'. With this well equipped boat Hemingway spent more and more time in 'the Stream' (so named lovingly by Hemingway for the stretch of ocean between Key West, Florida and Cuba). He was indeed a great Marlin fisherman too! Hendrickson's success in this particular biography about this much written and researched author is the way Ernest was personalized for the reader. It looks like he checked out every link and any person who could give us a clue into this complex man's life. Kept me interested despite the daunting size. Do read it if you ever get hit by an urge to know more about Hemingway, aka 'Papa'. This is the book you need. It will show you the man and how his non-flowery, curt and to-the-point style of writing captured the imagination of readers everywhere, along with his life on 'the boat' that was the one constant in his life, more than can be claimed by any one person.