On The Banks Of The Mayyazhi by M. Mukundan

Mayyazhi river, Mahé, Puducherry

We are so used to stories and historical accords of European colonization and the atrocities they inflict upon the natives. Well, this book says the story of now union territory Mahé, which was previously a French colony and an ace example of communal harmony and cultural assimilation post colonization. French settled here along with the natives, getting mixed with culture and believes, raising their generations. It’s really interesting and refreshing to read on life at Mahé, in its innocence and ignorance, where kids grow up hearing stories of Indian mythology and Joan of Arc. Also stories of the times where, religion language and ethnicity barely made any difference in day to day life.

Author has done an excellent job in conveying the essence in right amount of words, giving stories about various factions of Mayyazhi, on Mahé being home for them. Then followed the local helplessness on rebellion since they have been seeing and living along with French for generations as friends and family.
“Where will the white people go, this is their home too.”
It gets pretty visceral by the end, with accords of old people waiting for French ships with the hope of seeing their friends for one final time, the mental struggle within some locals on choosing whether to move to France or stay in Mahé..

Gotta admire the author for putting together all these aspects in and around the love story of a rebel torn between his future, ideology and family, pulling us through the moral confusion with side tracks of ancient stories of the soil. Prose was a little difficult, thanks to accented conversations and french names.

Would have given 4 stars if the book had ended before last two chapters, something I have an issue with many books contemporary to this one.



Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology


“So Persephone is the daughter of this chick Demeter
who is the goddess of like fertility and crops and whatnot
and she is also incredibly hot.
So hot, in fact
that Hades is down in the underworld (which is also called Hades actually)
and he looks up one day and he sees her and he goes “DAAAAAAAAAAA
I gotta get me some of that.”
So he just pops on up to the world in his black chariot of ultimate wretchedness
and he says “Hey, little girl do you want to come to hell?”
and she probably would have said no
only he kidnapped her.”

Now you have the idea, read along myths like a stand up comedy. Go, have a few good laughs, If you are up for this.

If bettermyths.com is your reason to read the book, prepare to be a bit disappointed. Nevertheless, this is a hilarious take on popular myths with little care given on writing, punctuation and language. Book is laugh out loud funny for most parts, at least till you find the usual style annoying. Then on it feels like an overstayed welcome, a trying too hard charade with occasional laughs, extirpating whatever interest you build up with these myths so far.

I have found the book really funny for the stories I am familiar with. Then there were many original myths unknown to me, ruined by this teenage ranting. This isn’t a one sit read material, but an episodic spoof for popular myths from cultures all over the world. A better analogy to this book, would be those hishe and honest trailer videos. Better understood after knowing the source material.

If you love mythologies, and are not easily offended, this is a definite reco from me. Even if you tend to be offended easily, epilogue is a go. That’s some serious arguments on science, religion and mythology, which might help you experience all the same with improved tolerance. And go have a few good laughs.

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

goldfinchBildungsroman” – That’s what books like these are called. A rather thick touchy one written in a first person monologue at times similar to that by Camus’s Meursault or Sam Raimi’s Elliot.But it was so simple and fluidic. Like sipping wine, something to relax on everyday, though it was kinda pointless at times.

Story spans through the teen ages of Theodor Decker towards his middle ages, which If given more papers Author might have extended till death. And the protagonist was as helpless as the reader in controlling his story. I really want to give some points on liking this book which on usual circumstances isn’t my type of read, except I don’t have any. Having that masterpiece painting, well allegedly, was giving Theo some strength, though the reveal of same might ruin his life, it was an excitement worth taking the risk for. He was often portrayed emotionless, especially around his Father, far better than that moron kid in The curious incident of the dog at the night though. And he was a schmuck for not contacting Andy, but somehow as a reader I understood him with his faults. It wasn’t pity for sure, since he wasn’t raised badly nor was in short of good company. Maybe, that was the magic of this book for me, it transcended really smooth.

And Blin!, Boris was exactly like that cheeki breeki Slav on youtube, he deserves a squatting ovation for saving the book. Though If given the chance I would edit out parts about Mr. Babour, I had no serious problem with the book being too long. In fact by the last few chapters I secretly wanted for more, though I knew there wont be any solid clincher. Like little puttertje in Fabritius’s Goldfinch, Theo was chained to his own mysterious blue chest. He was a pet bird almost all his life, delusional, lost and longing for care. And like they say, One had to be lost for others to be found.

the_goldfinch_puttertje_by_carel_fabritius_postcard-re2cdccb2d614441191712ba48ca5f938_vgbaq_8byvr_512Goldfinch was my fat companion over the last few months, I almost kept the piece away for days towards the last chapter. It was slowly becoming my personal Damascus, the way station and apogee like Amsterdam was for Theo, thanks to the unusual amount of time and emotions I had invested in the read. And there is a part of me contemplating to keep the library copy for my personal shelf much like Theo preserving the Fabritius’s Trompe-l’œil (I don’t know how to write or pronounce it, but word is fancy af).

Everything is Illuminated

Story of author searching a lady in modern Ukraine, who helped his parents escape Nazi holocaust, with the help of an American pop culture obsessed Ukrainian young adult, his almost blind grandfather and their dog, who goes by a rather sophisticated name- Sammy Davis Junior Junior. Book is written in rather three portions intertwined between each other in a linear timeline, two autobiographies and a letter reaction series.

And I had to force myself to sit through the fictional biography of authors forefathers, which moved from a funny touching anecdote to one dragging, uncomfortable, disgusting account of their sexual adventures and extra marital affairs. And having them all in first person made it more annoying. Well here is the clever part, forefather biography was always followed by a correspondence review from his Ukrainian companion which however summarized all the anger I felt to his writing as a reader. It made me cut some slack to be honest and move on with the good bits. Jonathan seemed like an expert at confusing what is with what was with what should be with what could be. 🙂

The main story, the quest for a long lost city had me quite intrigued. It was genuinely funny, engaging and kinda well written from the perspective of a guy with limited vocabulary. Only to ruin it all with some crappy ending. I would give 4 stars to the letters and quest, and maybe some 2 stars for his novel.

Invisible Cities, most sophisticated book without a plot

The point of this book is absolutely nothing, and that is its beauty as well. Calvino might have easily escaped a lot of essays in his highschool, am sure. Bending-Bookshelf-Invisible-Cities-Italo-Calvino-1972.jpg

Marco Polo who seems high af while visiting Kublai Khan, goes sycophant explaining all those imaginary cities he believes to have visited. All of them are exquisitely beautiful, eloquently expressed, named after madchens and never undergone any vicissitudes of life as such. There were many sumptuous cities with beautiful amorous girls throwing themselves at the travelers, and ones where inhabitants circled their home, work, wife when things got boring.

After listening to quite a few of his Utopian cities, the rather lethargic Mr. Khan, presumably high on the same stuff as Mr.Polo, goes on expressing Cities off his head, asking Mr.Polos confirmation on the existence of his imagination. Mr. Polo having already wared plenty of his punctilious imagination, at last succumbs to the existence of Mr. Khans creation, embellishing with details of his visit. At some point when he is asked of Venice, he says every city he explained is Venice, the beauty of which perplexes him. Also Calvino seems lost in his imagination, leaving some timeline anomalies which are least bothered to be expunged.

Mr. Polo goes all philosophical, maybe at the pinnacle of stuff moment, says everything he explained might be this town called Irene, which is different every time visited. Though this book feels like Ship of Theseus in its path to 55 cities, you find it hard to put down. This is like Prophet or Little Prince for knack-packers, and no matter how much you make fun of the whole thing, you are left gobsmacked by its invigorous grandeur.