Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Book Thief: A Review

What can I say about a book, where Death is the narrator? 
That it is funny and morbid in parts. 

This isn’t an objective review, I’m afraid.
 I stayed up all night, reading this book and at some point in the twilight hour, I fell in love.

To paraphrase, Markus Zusak (author) slightly.

The only thing worse than a book you hate: Is a book you fall in love with.

The Book Thief, has been around for a long time now. For too long and too many like me, could be oblivious to it.
Set in Nazi Germany, The Book Thief, recounts the story of a young girl (Leisel ) and her world. A world at the same time divorced and anchored in the most gruesome acts of the 20th century. 
That’s the thing about the Holocaust, or any war horror- you can write about it so, that the reader’s heart is ripped out and is disoriented for days. And why ever not, many would argue. I am all for telling stories, of keeping the memory of the heinous alive. Maybe to remind all of us, never to turn that corner again.
 It’s easy and tempting to recount the details of the violence in a violent way. However, it takes a very special author, to do it gently and gracefully; without performing any disservice to the memories of those who endured it.

In Zusak’s world, you meet a motley crew of characters. They live in a microcosm of horror, equally untouched and manipulated by events around them. The strength of the story are the smaller stories, how Tommy's ear infection caused Rudy to win the medals. Why didn't Rudy want all of them? Suddenly, these seem like urgent questions in Molching, a town so close to the epicenter of Nazi Germany. There’s Papa, Max (the Jew who wants to beat Hitler in a boxing match), Rudy,  the swearing foster mother, Rosa. There’s Ilsa Hermann, the woman who never got over her son’s death. 
And then, there’s Death. A narrative device, used both beautifully and hauntingly.

 Death is marked by its melancholic, yet shrug-of-shoulder narration of events. 

For the book thief, everything was going nicely.
For me, the sky was the colour of Jews"

This brings me back to my point, on fiction around the Holocaust-- it’s so easy and sometimes necessary to rip the readers heart out. 
This book will walk inside your body. 
Saunter, if you may.
Sit inside you, in lotus position, holding your heart in its hands. With every turn of the page, you will feel a squeeze there, a tug here. And all you will fervently whisper is, please don't break my heart. Please don't.

Perhaps, Zusak’s foreplay with words and easy amble around irony, classifies this as “young adult fiction”. However, there are vibrant analogies, crippled characters and a backdrop of one of the worst hate crimes committed. This is important reading for the young and adult alike. 

I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” 

You did good, Markus. You did good.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Somethings : Decoded

Most stories really start from the middle. The beginning is a construct, mostly of a pedestal.
Endings were more real. But, too real to be true.
It was in the middle that the story lay, breathed, danced and sulked.

Plucking petals from daisies, was how she thought growing up would be. Staring up at the ceiling came a close, realistic second. Most people were drawn to her irresistibly, some never really understood the fuss. Few recoiled, in sheer terror of the unseen and unexplored. One or two stayed, they really couldn't help themselves. They had gotten to know her.

Spun with her very own fabric of delicious complexities, vulnerabilities and a loud, loud laugh, she truly hated winter. The winds could chill your bones and suck happiness out of you. There really was little merit in all of it, other than a deep appreciation of what summer would bring. And the daisies.

He swore he found her while reading the horoscope section. Of course, the story never made sense, but she always exclaimed loudly when he said it, and you lost logic in her radiant banter. Her favourite things were cheesecake, Heathcliff, rain, repartees and good posture.

Like most things, the everyday ate up the magic. Even the most special of us, could recreate only so much. We always thought, she had an endless reservoir. But, no one was really paying attention.

It began with little inflections. The eyes stopped crinkling with wickedness, just a smidge- here and there. The madness to the banter seemed almost premeditated, and if you really really heard closely-she rarely spoke in riddles anymore. They didn't really notice.
How could they?
They had painted a portrait of what she was like. No one ever approved of wayward brush strokes.

There was the incident with the boat- he attributed it to sea sickness. He was the first to lose her, and the last to catch on. Familiarity doesn't breed as much contempt as it breeds indifference and loss of attention to details.

I could go on and tell you, how it all really ended.
But, I won't.
You'll take away from it.
As all of us do. Take away from endings. Analyse it/ her dry, project wisdom, hidden lessons and hindsight your way to the start.
People are always picking at endings, desperate to find an a-ha moment ! Always, always struggling to find that one lose thread in the fabric which caused the tear. To use it as a shield against the madness, the next time around.

That's why, I can't tell you.
She wanted the madness, she didn't know it any other way.

Monday, 6 August 2012


 If I were Enforcer & Chief Officer of Universal Will, these are the 17 things I would want.

17, because 25 would make me greedy.

1. Ban Crocs. No, really.

2. Have the weather, always  magically conspire with my mood. It must rain outside when I feel like curling up and reading. Warm sunshine, a happy must for my weekends.

3. Find my fav peeps, round them up and then make sure we’re not separated by latitudinal obstacles

4. Find a way to save the animals. All of them. Dolphins and lions first, in that order.

5. Everyone should work at what they love. Even if, some just love earning money.

6. When things seem off, may a present find its way to you.

7. Dial-a-Date with Gosling. You get Gerard Butler if the line’s busy.

8. Compress cultural experiences. Somehow, the time-space continuum is deliberately spiting me. The older I get, the less time I have, to read, travel and watch films.

9. In reference to point 8, plot a slow, painful take down of Microsoft Excel.

10. Be able to travel at will. Much like a wealthy hippy.

11. Loyalty. Because really, everything else is eye-roll worthy.

12. Be the muse of a rockstar.

13. Embrace and not embarrass myself, on key occasions. Everyone who grimaced, smirked or sighed at that, we have a support group meeting at 1am on Saturday.( Open Bar)

14. Write a book as popular as a George R. R series with the eccentricity of Gaiman and Zadie Smith, casually thrown in.

15. Be able to Thought Project a great hair day on myself.

16. Own ‘em comebacks. May the right comeback, present itself to me, at the right time and never a second too late.

17. Save the world, or find Narnia.