A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Archive for the ‘reading moments’ Category

Who won?

It has beenThw winner stands alone strange to read such a cynical story by Paulo Coelho, whose books seemed to me the anti thesis of cynicism. I had loved “The Alchemist”, and I had liked “Veronica Decides to Die” as well, very much. Somewhere along the line Coelho may have decided that he was no longer going to be the Mr. Nice Guy. He may have felt that he needed to write a story about the superficiality of the very rich, very famous in show business. He may have been disillusioned. So he wrote a cynical novel.

The problem does not lie in its cynicism, or depiction of the dark underbelly of the “superclass”, which, apparently, is a real term. The problem lies in the fact that Coelho does not show. He tells. Page after page after repeated page. He tells us that the super class is superficial. They lead tired empty meaningless lives. They manipulate. They form cartels. They have surgery to enhance their looks. They are afraid of growing old. How do we know? Coelho tells us.

This information has no relevance to the story of murder and mayhem that is “The Winner Stands Alone”. No matter. It is revealed again and again, woven into a story that has potential.

I cannot believe what I just wrote. Paulo Coelho’s story has potential! Ouch!

The question now remains, did the story get lost in translation? Or did Coelho just want to write something different, and make a hash of it?

I also failed to discern the relationship the name of the novel has to the story between the covers.

All in all, a sad disappointment.

Perhaps there are two Paulo Coelho’s? One who wrote “The Alchemist” and one who tried to write a book called “The Winner Stands Alone”.

 

The Purer Motive

Ruthless kingmaker who united a war torn land under one wise and brave ruler. The chosen one, having shown great promise as a child and a student, goes on to rule, with wisdom, the land he has fought alongside his teacher to win. A king who is remembered with reverence in his own right. His mentor – learned, wise, cynical, quick to spot strengths and weaknesses- in people, in logic, in philosophy. Author of a book whose wisdom has transcended more than 2000 years. History knows him as Chanakya.

Soulless powerbroker who seems to mirror the deeds of the widely respected sage, and creates a king, wilfully escalating the mayhem across the land in the process. Other than a few smart questions, the king ( of the female gender) shows no wisdom, courage, or discretion. Having being handed platform after platform through deceit and thuggery, of which she is a willing participant, she gains her throne through years of political manipulation. She then  apparently rules India wisely through three terms. One is left wondering where such acumen has sprung from, since all she learnt from her teacher and life, was how to win position and power by  deceit, murder, mayhem and manipulation. Her mentor – now… what is his name?… umm.. oh yeah. Pandit Gangaprasad Mishra.

“Chanakya’s” chant? I think not. Ruthless and soulless are not synonyms, neither are kingmaker and powerbroker.

Chankaya's Chant

Samuel Barclay Beckett: Unfinished

Samuel Barclay Beckett, avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, and wrote in both English and French. Formidable reputation. He is famous “for his writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation.” Ironic, then, that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969, a pointless gesture, surely if ever ther was one.

I was, uncharacteristically, quite excited when the young adorablescent brought “Waiting For Godot” home from school as a text. Uncharacteristically, because I have a phobia for books which are so deep and meaningful, that you have to be amongst the world’s top ten intellectuals to even get a grip on the topic. This seems to imply that all the regular people I come into contact with are lying when they say they understand it. I don’t think they are lying. I think they believe they understand it. I think that, it is so unacceptable to say that Samuel Beckett made no sense to you, that people are subconsciously afraid to say it.

It is hard to align yourself on the side of the “superficial”. I know how much it hurts to be called superficial, because I have been called it. I have watched people look at the hundreds of books lining my shelves, and assume, that someone else in the family has read those books, and not me. When I have said that most of those books are mine, and many of them have been read by only me, I have had people look at me in wonder, trying to understand how such a superficial person as me could actually have read so much, and some of those books are, by commonly agreed upon standards, not kindergarten reads. (I have not read too much, but a wall full of shelves overflowing with books can dominate a room). So I have always taken with a pinch of salt when someone regular like me, waxes all lyrical over an obscure book by an obscure author. (Using obscure as: not clearly expressed or easily understood, Beckett is not unknown, and his play “Waiting for Godot” even less so).

I was excited because, I thought that, here was a short book, that I would be able to quickly read and not get bogged down in existentialistic nightmares for months. Pick up. Read. Put Down. Tick off to-read list.

I will just assume everyone reading this has read the play. A play about nothing, in which nothing happens, and ends before any point has truly been made. I get it. That is the point of the play. That there is no point. Nothing happens in our lives. We do nothing, remember nothing, have no significance or maybe we even don’t exist.

It just makes me wonder. Why would I read/watch this play? The conversation goes nowhere, so paying attention is not necessary. Nothing happens, so ditto. There is only the point of futile existence, so why bother?

Can anyone tell me whether I should read the second Act of Mr Beckett’s play? Have I missed something? I think it will be a rehash of the first Act, just driving home the point. I already get it.

 

Bare tree sunrise sunset.jpg

Photo credit: Hartwig HKD

 

Read the book! Facepaint

lisa-eldridge-facepaint-photoSome books can be downloaded onto an electronic device. Some books cannot. The idea of reading an electronic version of this book scares me. I have never read an ebook. Yet, I am sure this book would lose half its magic if you could not hold it in your hand, move it around in your hand, watching the light catch the shifting mood of the pictures, running your fingers over the textured cover. This book is a visual feast. First and foremost.

Written for makeup lovers, it is a book with so much make up story crammed into its pages, it is sure to delight those who want to learn a little bit more about this fascinating art and industry.

It is pleasing that the focus remained on story telling, independent of any kind of brand focus, or subtle advertising. Lisa Eldridge has enough clout in the the makeup world that if she recommends one product, it will fly off the shelves. She has made no such recommendations, she has not stated a preference for one style of makeup over another. She has also not made any kind of reference to any kind of body image issues except as a historical commentary. No judgement. Whatsoever.

Instead we see a charming discussion of colour utilisation through the ages, the trends, the socio-political ramifications, the anecdotes. Who would have thought that the use of makeup through ages seemed to coincide with women’s rights, and freedom, even if only certain tiers in certain ages? Apparently courtesans and prostitutes not only wore obvious makeup through the ages, but also got accorded more rights than the genteel women. Mo’ makeup, did equate to mo’ fun!

 

The Eldridge Technique is widely known to be Lisa’s distinctive technique of making complexion appear flawless through makeup, while allowing the inner glow to shine through. I have just discovered another inimitable Eldridge Technique. The book is written in the same soft, often amused, always kind, voice that Lisa uses in her youtube instructional videos. A classic book from a classy lady.

Since this is such a vast subject, and this book had to be sketchy by necessity, I look forward to more books from Lisa.

 

This is one of the best gifts I have given myself on my birthday. My first book of 2016

First book of 2016: Facepaint

It is the First of January, 2016, and I just stumbled upon the “First Book of the Year” community.

1stbook2016

I have never made the first book of a year into any kind of priority. Usually, I would not think it to be such a special thought in as much as it should not really matter to someone who reads all the time as to what time of the year it is. To me the year is a man made concept, for humanity’s own need to compartmentalise Time (with a capital T).

But, having just written in my list for 2016, “I have read and reviewed 30 books in 2016” I feel it may be necessary to undergo this ritual. Read the first book, review it. A journey of reading and reviewing 30 books starts by picking up the first book, after all.

To those who are planning to read 100+ books during the year, I commend you. There was a time when I did read a book or two in a week. Now is not that time. My very modest goal of 30 books this year is doubling what I managed to read in 2015. I am content to take my humble back seat in the community.

So my first book is one that I have just started to read over the last couple of days: “Facepaint: The Story of Makeup” by Lisa Eldridge. I am also reading: “The Modern Art Cookbook” by Mary Ann Caws, “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, and “Light on Yoga Sutras” by BKS Iyengar. This last book may also be finished as the last book of this year, depending on how many pages I read at a time.

First book of the year

Out of these I think it is easiest for me to finish Eldridge’s book, so I have chosen it to be my first book. It is filled with the most beautiful pictures. Her writing style flows like a conversation, and, as an avid follower of her YouTube channel, it feels like she is reading the book to me.

Thank you Sheila of bookjourney.net for the idea, and Ti of bookchatter.net for pointing me to the community. Happy reading adventures, fellow bookworms…..

Adults: Young and Not So Young

I have recently discovered BookTubers . This YouTuber family is by no means new, it is just that I have arrived late to the party.

Since I came upon BookTubers via my guilty secret (beauty YouTubers), and since a large percentage of beauty YouTubers are in the early twenties age range, all the BookTubers I initially discovered were also similarly aged. Amazingly, or not so amazingly, this group of YouTube enthusiasts seems to review and read Young Adult Fiction overwhelmingly often. Even though not exclusively, it seems to be that much of the Book Reviews, To Be Read videos, Book Hauls etc. I have watched since discovering this genre, has involved Young Adult Fiction, Graphic Novels, etc. I know that Graphic Novel aficionados would all scream in frustration and fall in a heap, because some Graphic Novels are NOT Young Adult Fiction. E.g. “The Arrival”, by Shaun Tan. Oh dear, I have done it again. “The Arrival” is not a Graphic Novel, it is a Picture Book. Both of which are different to Comics. Sigh.

I remember back to my “freshly twenty” age, and the number of girls around me reading “Mills and Boon” or other such similar romances. I was guilty of sneaking a romance or two into my TBR (to be read, in modern parlance), myself. Most of the time, even at that age, my reading was heavily censored by my parents, which meant I read more classics than romances. Many of my friends were also reading Camus, Sartre, etc and making the atmosphere dense with their (surely half baked?) discussions of such thinkers and their work. Maybe they got those authors. I did not, which does not entitle me to cynicism. I did read a book or a half by such philosophers with no understanding whatsoever, but for the most part, satisfied my parents’ wish of my being a “serious” reader with less demanding books. Many of my compatriots at that age, though, were reading much lighter, romantic novels, which today would definitely be classified as YA. So there has been no generational “dumbing down”. People are reading as before, it is just that in today’s world of room to Internet to fame after a fashion, it is easy to get a very skewed view of what is actually happening in the world.

It has also occurred to me that I originally viewed the term Young Adult differently to what it is probably meant to be. I thought Young Adult meant the more “advanced” book for those who are too young to be called adult. The “Twilight” saga having being called YA probably added to this delusion, for I could not imagine that any adult could seriously digest these books. Amazingly, more than a few adults have, and with love. But YA fiction is aimed at those who are young adults. Who would have thought? Right?

Before I turned away from BookTubers and their vlogs, to more “intelligent” pursuits, because it is a very long time since I have been a young adult, I realised, that, Ariel Bissett, BookTuber, crazy, funny, adorable, and twenty years old, has been chosen by the Man Booker Prize people to be a “Man Booker Prize Vlogger”. OMG, right? This is her (along with four other BookTubers) official task: “This year, the Man Booker Prize will be running its own vlog book club, featuring five popular, literary vloggers in the UK and Canada. The ‘Man Booker Vloggers’ will chat about all things Man Booker from long list stage onwards, posting videos discussing the books and authors in contention for this year’s prize”.

What is the Man Booker Prize, other than being a prestigious award that can make an author’s career jump from the doldrums into the firmament? It’s aim is “to increase the reading of quality fiction, and to attract the intelligent, general audience.” I looked through the list of recent years Man Booker Prize winners, and the closest I have come to reading any of them is having the “White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga on the family bookshelf for a couple of years. I have not read it, another family member has. So, it is time I step off my high horse about BookTubers, and embrace them all.

Cute, Mad Ariel 

Very Insightful Rincey Reads       DeathtoStock_Clementine2

Sanne, whose name is as commons in The Netherlands, as Sarah is in the UK.

Only some of my new discoveries.

Photo Credit: http://deathtothestockphoto.com

Out of the Desert

I don’t like to watch movies made from books that have moved me. The most recent one I can think of is “The life of Pi”. I know. Ang Lee is a revered director and the movie won four Academy Awards. But the movie could not hold a torch to the book. To me, reading the book was like an awakening. I felt it in my nerves and read through it’s pages up until the spine tingling finish with wide open interest and often, laughter swirling through me. I don’t know whether the laughter was intended by the author, but to me, it was an integral part of my joyous experience of the book. The movie left me feeling hollow, unexcited, heavily dissatisfied. Before anyone starts telling me that it would have been a different experience in the theatre, let me say this much. I know. Audio visually it would have been a thrilling experience, but the beauty of Pi’s life was not in its scenery. I have written about my impressions about the book, which you may want to read. I am reading a book right now, that is encased within spectacular views as well, and if it was made into a movie, there would be a similar danger of it being converted into a visual feast, with the story being lost in adaptation.

I don’t think a movie will be made from this book, though. Firstly it is written by Deepak Chopra. Too much controversy. The scientific world seems to hate him and his philosophy. There is a tendency to laugh at his rhinestone encrusted glasses. There must be a spiritual law somewhere, “Thou shalst not wear rhinestone encrusted glasses if thou wisheth to be taken seriously”. In my experience, those who like his books whisper it to people who they are sure would not laugh at them. Perhaps because other people lump the message together with the messenger.

Secondly, this book is “Muhammad – A Story of the Last Prophet”, and there is not much sympathy in the world for his declared, or self professed followers right now. The book is a fictional outpouring of the man that was Muhammad, and the words of God he spoke. There is an intermingling of history and story in the book, which to me is not important. How much of the history do we really know, anyway? Do we care? Again, is the message important, or is the messenger? There may be value in understanding the messenger, as that would put the message into context. It may also help decode the imagery of the era and person into words which can be understood by masses a couple of thousand years down the track. . But in the case of this book, as well as “Buddha – A Story of Enlightenment”, and “Jesus – A Story of Enlightenment”, Chopra has sought to create a man behind the myth, who is part history, part folk lore, part fiction. “Jesus” was an easy read, though soul seeking, and “Muhammad” is building up the same vibes in it. I look forward to finishing it.

If they do make a movie, (will they?) I would love to watch it, because I love the desert scenery. Only three chapters into the book, the evocative desert scenes are making me wish to see it in spectacular panoramic extreme screen and sound, and not just in a small sphere in my head. I would probably even be minded to forgive the director if they strayed from Muhammad and concentrated on showing the beautiful Arabic sands.

desert with camel riders

Photo credit :

Sylwia Bartyzel

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