Category Archives: Personal

Gone Girl – Book Review

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl…


 

This quote and the recent Ben Affleck starrer movie trailer made me pick up and read Gone Girl . If you click on the linked text it will re-direct you to the wiki page and the plot will be given away. So don’t. Quite tempting it is I know, so don’t.

Gone Girl is a fast read. It is a New York Times Bestseller (2012). It is Gillian Flynn’s third book. And it is just so damn insanely smartly creepy.

It is a love story and to borrow Flynn’s words – it is a nuclear love story. The plot is fast, racy and saucy when it needs to be. The timing of the turns and twists mostly unpredictable with very strongly predictable characters is more than impeccable, it is honestly a bit insulting. There are shades of Sheldon like narration and just when you think you know where this is going she gets to you right just like that and you are like – ok, what just happened there.

The characters are very real. They can be easily identified with. The first person narration-putting the characters voice in your head, something (probably the only thing) which has worked in great favour for The Fifty Shades and Twilight series – once again works, it makes the reading easy and it makes the reader feel so involved, especially when Flynn chooses to mock the social norms prevalent in Amy’s intelligent disapproving voice.


 

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The social commentary is simply crazy, insane, nuclear. She comments on marriages, love, infidelity, parents, cops, rich people, poor people, New York people, small town people, diseased people, the press, the paparazzi, the judicial system, lawyers, siblings – all of us have been mocked, all the norms have been cut,dissected and put on a display for all us, to see the error of our ways.

Amy’s observations of this less than perfect world are loaded with frank factual conclusions. Amy mocks everyone. And then I guess Flynn has mocked Amy by painting her the way she has – in this crazy nuclear way making her say all those nasty true things. Meta-mockery.

The book is easy to read – alternate he-she narration, almost linear parallel time line, complete characters, a well-researched plot – basically it had all the right ingredients for David Fincher ( yes, yes Fight Club !) to make a movie out of it.

I could tell you all about the book and the plot but I think it would make for a different reading experience. Do read it.

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The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“Things always become obvious after the fact”  – Taleb


When I picked up this book I knew destiny had placed it in my hands ( don’t shake your head yet) and I also knew that no matter what I had go through all the 379 pages of this very smartly put together piece of art.

If you have heard of Taleb then you can already guess that probably this book is about the improbable and the probable. And indeed it is, it is also about chance, it is about prediction, it is about finance, traders, probabilities, discoveries, economics, inventions, scientists, great people, lesser known brilliant people, with some math sprinkled here and there and a lot of other technical stuff.

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And this book is also about thought processes, established norms, why people are the way they are, can we really help the way that we think and our outlook towards life, why are things the way that they are, what is this incessant need of the human race to understand to categorize to label, is that the only way for us to learn and grow, why are financial analysts in such a great demand, the monotony of daily life and then that one big event, history and how people make history.

But this book is primarily about the meaning of life, the true one and only. It is hidden right amidst his words and it screams at the reader, the reader who is  open to this new lesson. Another wonderful book which touches upon the meaning of life is the Blind Watchmaker by Dawkins but then that book is far too technical and Dawkins’ sense of humor is very dry. Taleb on the other hand is quick on his feet and so, oh so clever with his words and his stories and his theories and his questions. He has so much to tell and the urgency is clearly visible in the fast paced writing.

Taleb talks about the concept of self-similarity – how the parts which make a whole and the whole are similar. And I have to say the book is a brilliant example of this concept which he introduces later in the book. Before this concept he builds the ground to prepare you for the overwhelming realization this very simple and very evident fact will bring upon your being.

Reading this book is going to alter your life, your belief system is going to disintegrate and you will be forced to question your most rational conclusions.

And your view about the future is going to be altered, forever, I promise.


Youth – J M Coetzee

To detail the plot very simply Youth tells the story of a white man from South Africa who escapes to London thinking hoping  like one usually does when one moves to a fancy town, of great adventures but ends up becoming one of the many soul less faces of the newly booming IT industry.

But then, no one reads a Coetzee for the plot. Though, it is credible how he weaves the plot through so many voices. Youth has two voices – the youth’s and the narrator’s. And it becomes difficult sometimes to tell the two apart.

So many issues are touched upon, questioned and dissected through the introspectively curious nature of the protagonist – writers and writing, poetry and prose, music and musicians, how difficult it is to write sometimes, how lonely do we become in cities full of people, fantasies and expectations of the youth vs reality of the modern world, how the grass is always greener on the other side, sex between strangers and of course the obvious ones against whose back drop the entire book is painted – family, South Africa, London, war and politics.

The play with the tenses and grammar, the play with the shifting voices in a single sentence, the dreamy tone flowing through many sentences, the words, his words seem to have a life of their own and now and then they intoxicate the reader and sometimes they spill over from the mind of the youth in to the plot.

The absence of any form of dialogue, inverted commas in this work does not take away the authenticity of the existence of the characters. The reader is aware of the progression of the plot – how in his misery he could dream so much and now that he is in comfort he can hardly create. Anguish, pain and the misery of the artist aside I like how Coetzee has chosen his words, or have the words chosen themselves, for the  journey of the artist both inward and outward, how in the end when his existence becomes a slave of corporatism the words for him are bland, colourless.

Reading the book for me was intense, it was an assault on my mind, it over whelmed my being and the words, his words, they toyed with me and they played with me and I liked it very much.

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