Archive

Archive for August, 2011

Word-Alchemy

“..Nothing reminds one of impending extinction more than the growth of one’s children, for whom room must be made, and who are in fact one’s only hint of even a tincture of a hope of immortality”

Hitch 22- Christopher Hitchins

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Lonesome Dove

Larry Mcmurtry has written four novels under the Lonesome Dove series. The order in which the books are written are:

1. Lonesome Dove (LD) – Larry won a Pulitzer for this book

2. Streets Of Loredo (SOL)

3. Dead Man’s Walk (DMW)

4. Comanche Moon (CM)

However the chronology in which the saga proceeds is DMW, CM, LD and SOL. My plan is to read the series in the chronological order.

Larry Mcmurtry received a Pulitzer for Lonesome Dove and lot of good things have been said about this series.

The Lonesome Dove series is about the life and adventures of two Texas rangers (and close friends), Woodrow Call and Augustus Mcrae, and is set in the 1800s. DMW and CM respectively deal with early and middle stage of their stint as Texas rangers as they take on the Comanche Indian and Mexican renegades.

All all the books in the series can be read on a standalone basis, I would definitely recommend reading DMW before CM. I think DMW is really an ‘ok’ book  but a good precursor to Comanche Moon which is stupendous for its towering scope and deep characterizations. 

Mr.Mcmurtry is clearly not taking any sides in this novel but provides a story that is steeped in reality of those times. Buffalo Hump, the head of a tribe of Comanche Indians is one of the more fascinating characters you would find in English fiction. His transition from peak of his powers to an ignored, old, ‘former’ tribe leader is handled with amazing grace.

These books have humour, adventure, tragedy and in the end a deep longing to answer (if at all it can be) the reason for living. In both its heroes and its villians, it depicts a life well lived and handled with an independence and freedom that is the characteristic of only a few in this world.

I am now really looking forward to Lonesome Dove which is supposed to be the best novel in the series. For me, this series is pure storytelling genius.

 Dead Man Walking/Comanche Moon (as a package): 5

Categories: Larry Mcmurtry

Respect for Mr.Burke!!

I was introduced to James Lee Burke thru a blog post by book chase (http://bookchase.blogspot.com/). I started with ‘Glass Rainbow’ and then went on to read all his books in a span of 3 months. 

One does not read Burke for the plots (which are good as well), but for his deeply sketched characters and a lyrical prose that is second to none. For me, Burke is the Hemingway of  crime fiction.

His writing is exotic and evocative. His main characters (be it Dave in the Robicheaux series or Billy in the Billy Holland series) are the best ‘stand-up’ guys in modern fiction. The plots are generally similar involving Dave or Billy dealing with the local ‘mean guys’ while protecting their friends or family from danger. However, the plot is not the point – its the characters’ sense of righteousness and how they deal with their own sorrow, sense of loneliness, ‘a drinking problem’, and their principles as they fight to protect the underdog.

For me, reading Burke’s works is a deeply spiritual and I need my monthly dose of Burke novels to keep myself centred.

Rating:5 (for all his novels)

Have a great weekend!

Categories: Uncategorized

A Dedication to Me and My Freedom

This year I took the difficult decision of leaving a great job and going on my own – essentially to trade my own money. The angst and the up-and-down in the trading business are like no other and it will be a test of my temperament.

This line from a recent article by Jhumpa Lahiri in the New Yorker rang a chord and I dedicate it to myself:

She writes:

“..I found work at a bookstore, opening shipments and running a cash register. I formed a close friendship with a young woman who worked there, whose father is a poet named Bill Corbett. I began to visit the Corbett’s home, which was filled with books and art – a framed poem by Seamus Heaney, drawings by Philip Guston, a rubbing of Ezra Pound’s gravestone. I saw the desk where Bill wrote, obscured by manuscripts, letters and proofs, in the middle of the living room. I saw the work taking place on this desk was obliged to no one, connected to no institution; that this desk was an island, and that Bill worked on his own“.

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Something About Elmore!

There is nothing more enjoyable than reading an Elmore Leonard book on a lazy afternoon while hanging by the pool. There is something about his books that makes you pine for more.

1. The plot never has a dull moment; there are surprises lurking everywhere and they do not seem contrived at any stage

2. Unlike other thriller fiction where the focus is on the main character, all characters in his novels are edgy, street-smart and have grey shades. So instead of rooting for one guy, you just enjoy the ride while watching the inter-play between the characters as they try and out-do one another

3. The dialogues are first-rate and its like watching a thriller movie with excellent screen play.

His novels are not great literature; they are just great reads; a complete value for your time.

I just finished reading two of his works – Labrava and Cat Chasers. Highly recommended for a weekend read.

Have a great Wednesday!

Categories: Uncategorized

Cross of Iron

‘Cross of Iron’ by Will Heinrich is a story of a German platoon fighting on the Eastern Front during the World War II. The author writes in a very uncomplicated manner and is very effective in describing the inherent dichotomy of an army life – the strong hierarchial bias of an army setup v/s the equality of human beings that people with a developed consciousness base their life on . It delves on the exploits of the platoon (and its leader Sergent Steiner) in two stages: a) stuck on their own behind enemy lines; b) as part of the battalion fighting a counterattack by Russians.

The book left me with mixed feelings – As a tale about a group of soldiers fighting for their life and their country while grappling with the meaninglessness of it all and dealing with the politics of an army structure, it was reasonably successful. However, where it left me unsatisfied was it did not dig more into the psychology of german soldiers while they fought the war as aggresors. The german soldier has been unanimously hailed as an epitome of strength, character and discipline during the Second World War. There gallantry has been overshadowed (and at times forgotten) by the atrocities of the Nazis. It would have been great to delve further into the thinking of a german soldier during this period – On that, the novel falls short.

The book seems to have a similar subject as ‘Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes’ though is unable to rise to that level. I would say this book is worth checking out if you like war novels; but do not expect it to blow your mind.

Rating: 3/5

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Word Alchemy

“If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all along, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of bliss, and they open the doors to you.”

Joseph Cambell quote from My Life on the Run by Bart Yasso

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