Archive for February, 2010

Six Years!

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

In the past month or two, cutting through hectic work schedules, manoeuvring hefty month-end targets and sinking into an ennui (impossible to shrug off), I carved out time for two main activities- one, search and buy a good music system (hi-end, assembled and absolutely a delight) and two, catch up on reading. Thankfully, April served a plethora of holidays to enjoy both. In any case, the sultry and humid weather that swamped Bombay disallowed any activity beyond home. And both IPL & the current on-going tussle between multi-plex owners & producers ensured no release worth watching hit the theaters.

I saw two flicks I had missed earlier – on DVD. 13B was engrossing and entertaining. Though not overtly scary, it carried enough drama to hold viewer’s interest;  however, the director failed minutes before the climax. Jai Veeru was absolutely disgusting – the premise was so kiddish, I am sure it couldn’t have even looked good on paper. Why did they even waste time & money filming it?

Coming to books, I finished Jeffery Archer’s latest release – Paths of Glory. It’s a ficitonalized account of mountaineer George Mallory, who may or may not be the first person to set foot on Mt. Everest. Archer narrates the story in his inimitable fashion, peppering it with interesting anecdotes, starting it from the beginning, in a saga-fashion, just like many of his previous works.

Since reaching Mt. Everest would inevitably involve a bit of India, there is a tiny section set in Bombay (so that’s why he was here last year, to research and get a feel?). However, I found that sliver entirely uninteresting and completely uninspiring, and certainly a huge disappointment. I expected better from Archer, even if the story is set in 1920’s. Rather, I found Vikram Bhatt’s research (or imagination) of that era much more vivid & compelling in 1920 (even though it is downright gross to compare two different media – films & books – but then, a book allows for more in-depth detailing, which makes Archer’s ommision even futher glaring!)

Overall, the novel is a good light read, not comparable to his legendary works, a notch lower than his previous Prisoner of Birth (of which, I have his duly signed copy), but certainly much above the other mass I read.

The biggest letdown was John Grisham’s The Associate. With an awesome build-up, and a terrific story-line (about a young associate haunted by his seemingly reckless past), the novel could have been sensational. Sadly, its climax simply shatters all the good work of previous pages. In fact, there is no climax, no end at all – so much so, I had to check & recheck whether the copy I bought had the last few pages missing! Either Grisham was in a hurry to publish it (which seems unlikely) or he has a sequel in mind (which could be a possibility). Either ways, I expected better.

Other than these two, I read several other relatively unknown authors (though all the cover jackets proclaimed them #1 New York Times Best Sellers!). A colleague (who knows my penchant for reading) keeps regularly passing me these books. They are an excellent read to pass a Saturday evening & whole Sunday. Some are genuinely gripping till the time they last, but soon fade off. The proximity of these reads ensure a gala confusion- characters of one have seagued into another. But one thing, most are set in American towns (often smaller ones from where the authors originate), and hence give an absorbing & hitherto unknown insight. As they last, I like to be part of these people, using my imagination where the author has not filled in, and enjoy them like long-lost friends dropping in home. These novels usually don’t have complex tales, and generally carry happy endings. And oh yes, the amount of coffee at work (almost always bad at work place) and the general sense of ‘work’ there keeps me guessing, is working in America really that ‘glamorous’? Some, looked like a TV mini-series rather than a full-blown movie. So, that’s where the difference lies between the good and the great!

My latest finish in this lot are , Mary Higgins Clark’s The Second Time Around and Nora Roberts’ Birthright. Clark’s novel is better of the two. Both carry some suspense. Both have strong women protagonists. And both should read Agatha Christie to realize that ‘the murderer’ should be a suspect from a pool of people who are properly introduced and given enough word space, so that needle of suspicion can keep spinning. Roberts fails miserably here. The wrong-doer is from a bunch of side-characters, whom I had nearly skimmed over. She could have given more time there to the side-characters so that the reader could have kept guessing which one is ‘the one’- instead she wastes valuable pages on what essentially is a Mills-and-Boons type of romance, with elongated (and perfect) love making (after a while it became so irritating that I simply skipped pages anytime the hero and heroine were alone), ending in soft sighs, tears flowing down and breaths going choppy.

There were more, but they have slipped my memory for now. Will try to write on them later.

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