Persuasion – Jane Austen

A very delightful read! If anyone is in need of a light-hearted love story, give this a try, but do have patience for the long windedness and the so very long sentences.

My first Jane Austen read. Yes, i got through my Victorian exam with dramas, poetry and only one novel. Not proud of it – my lecturer would have been very mortified indeed, at the fact that i had never read a single Jane Austen then; he was such a fan – but it was all that i could managed at that point.

Anyway, back to the book, the strong streak of can-die-but-cannot-lose-face mentality throughout the book is a great amusement in itself, for the people lose much more “face” in attempting to preserve it. The silliness of it all! Yet they appear not to know it. The idiots.

The love story – with its little acts of anger, jealousy and pride – has very little surprises but yet the expected ending does provide much satisfaction to me. I like it when the characters are flustered at the unexpected sight of each other. I like it more when the characters try so hard to be in view of each other and then try even harder to act nonchalant. A battle of poker faces, i would think.

In an era where people write letters and travel in carriages, it takes a great deal of effort just to get near a person. Naturally, when one finally gets to see or talk to the person, due attention and sincere affection are given. And hence, the mutual attraction. Lovely!

~31/08/17

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The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

As i finally started on this book, someone commented that there was no point in reading this now. I beg to differ as i feel that a good book should be timeless, and able to impart something new to all readers reading it in different years – be it a tiny landscape detail, a different perspective, or simply some general knowledge.

I already know that this would be a sad story but was unprepared to read about the raping of a boy as an act of bullying by an older boy. This left me feeling disturbed for a while. I had been wondering how badly the boy would be beaten up but did not expect such perverted act. I do realise this horror is still common in some parts of the world.

The type of realisation makes many problems i face and hear of, appear like grains of sand in a desert. So, do pardon me if i appear nonchalant at times. Because these so-called problems can usually be fixed, if you put your heart to it. You just need to make the hard decision and “pay a price” for it. Life is such that very few people are in a position to have their cake and eat it.

A fresh perspective on guilt was opened up to me here; that a guilty person takes it out on the very same people he feels bad towards. This explains a lot. Really a lot.

The storyline is engaging but the form of it is too dry for my liking. I am more used to reading multiple narratives and at least two timelines concurrently. I got bored with the many trivialities – at times, repeated – that do not contribute to the main storyline.

In summary, i had to put deliberate effort to finish the book but i gain something out of it.

~23/07/17

 

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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Mitch Albom

Lágrima (Spanish: Teardrop) – by Spanish guitarist Francisco Tárrega – is the main music piece of this very heart-aching and touching tale of a boy born during wartime. I travelled through parts of his journey with tears rolling down my cheeks. A story remains unreal as a story but the emotions are real.

At certain junctions i felt like kicking Music or Life (or the author) for playing cruel jokes on the boy. But if life is always smooth, then it isn’t life. I cannot recall the exact words but Shakespeare wrote something along the line of “to be alive is to feel pain”. I could not agree more.

The boy suffers greatly for his art (and fame). “You cannot write if you do not read, you cannot eat if you do not chew, you cannot play if you do not listen”, how many people truly understand this basic concept and still embrace the idea of delayed gratification? Recently i learnt from a video that it takes a toddler a year of listening to a language before he/she starts to speak the language. Not sure how true that study is but it makes sense.

In reality, some things are left unexplained. Not everything gets a closure. The best we can do, is just to move on. This point is well illustrated in the story in which the situation takes a turn for the worse whenever “truth” is revealed. Is truth really necessary? I guess that is subjective. Personally i feel some things are better left unsaid and unknown. But of course one should always know your roots and never pretend to be of a different origin. That should not change because it cannot change.

This book is a somewhat emotionally-draining read for me but i like it very much, not as much as i like Tuesdays with Morrie but enough to recommend it as a book worth reading. It makes many of the issues we face today look small and silly.

Art, existing in various forms (words, paintings, music, films…) will always connect people at heart, regardless of distance and era. It will always be a reliable source of solace to all. Always.

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The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

I know this belongs to bestseller category. One friend commented it felt like the novel was trying too hard to create suspense. Another friend gave up after finishing 1/3 of it, as she had Crime and Punishment (by Fyodor Dostoyevsky) in mind. I had to read it for myself.

I struggled to feel the suspense in the book. The only reason for clearing it is i did not wish to leave it half done. A far cry from my recent experience with Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, i would say.

Most of the time i was reading the mind of a drunkard, trying to recall what she had done the previous night. Nothing much. Just a broken person trying hard to be part of a mystery, which was not even a mystery in the first place, if she wasn’t a drunkard.

And the association with trains? Sigh…

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Animal Farm – George Orwell

A friend said one can finish this book in 5 minutes. An exaggeration of course but i did cleared it very fast. One thing about not having to deal with exams is that i can actually enjoy my textbook at face level. Evil pigs these are, i tell you, much worse than those in Angry Birds. I shall have pork chop for dinner later.

This read is like a comic relief for me before i dive into the next not-so-thin book. Despite the cuteness of it all, there is a sad moment when blind faith is rewarded with murder. That is truly how the world is, not so much as the fittest survive, but rather, the most cunning thrive.

Politics is well played with conditioning and constant re-conditioning of the minds. The mind is, after all, extremely forgetful. If a lie is repeated every day, the mind will soon accept it to be the truth. This is especially so when the mainstream media – that horrible Squealer – has the ability to turn black into white. Or is it white into black. Whichever way.

My favourite is the cat who mysteriously seems to have vanished mid-way through the book ……….

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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami

I found such great solace in this read that it is hard for me to express in words. “Some things in life are too complicated to explain in any language”.

The never-ending debate about whether a book is writerly or readerly will always be there. Did the book happen to suit my situation or did i interpret the book accordingly in my situation? Just like many questions in life, there is no answer. And just like many past events in life, it doesnt really matter.

Life, sometimes, needs victims. Whether or not, one is indeed a victim, is simply a perspective. This perspective may or may not change as time passes by.

The good thing is, “not everything was lost in the flow of time.” Each of us definitely retains something precious and continues to hold on to it close at heart. For the living, just do your best to keep on living, even if your lives arent perfect.

The sun will still rise tomorrow … life continues … it is Monday again. Damn.

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