I am addressing you in the singular because I don’t doubt for a second that my readership has dwindled down to the single digits, if not less, due to my absenteeism.
Adulthood means being unable to read like a child, and I’ve accepted this now, even though I resisted for a few years longer than my peers. Reading has become a delicious luxury for stolen moments.
Besides, I’ve noted that the amount I read always drops when I undergo any life-changes. And I’ve just gone through a humongous one. I got married, I moved out of home, and I got a new dog. Making googly-eyes at my dog, in fact, takes up most of my free time. One cannot read and kiss a dog’s nose at the same time, believe me.
Notwithstanding, I am hesitant to drop this blog. I bought this domain years ago to encourage myself to keep at it; both writing and this blog, and I will regret it for the rest of my life if I stop altogether.
If a read less, I write less on this blog, since it is about reading, after all. And so I have been consorting with another long bout of delightful writer’s block. Maybe one can just call it lack of motivation. And the longer I don’t write, the more pressure there is.
For what it’s worth, I am convinced that the next piece of amazing stationery I buy will entirely kill my sloth and make me into the next Margaret Atwood. In that spirit, my house is filled with scores of pens and countless empty and half-empty notebooks. Most recently, to end my long and tragic bout of writer’s block, I decided that I must have a dozen yellow legal notepads, which Amazon was selling wholesale. I used to be more economical and buy my legal notepads singly from Staples, but since Staples retail store is no longer a thing in Bangalore, I was forced to rely on Amazon. I had the legal notepads delivered to office and opened them gleefully, and one of my co-workers saw them told me it’s a waste of money. I was deeply offended! No price is too high when I’m endeavouring to become the next Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie! Plus, yellow legal pads are a one-way street to becoming brilliant and organised. Hmph.
I forgot them in my backpack yesterday and pulled them out this morning at home just before I left to office. My husband saw them. I was hoping he wouldn’t say “How much did they cost?” or “Why on earth do you need 12?”. At best, I was hoping for an indulgent smile and shake of the head. But as soon as he saw them, his pretty brown eyes lit up and with all the excitement of a small child asking for gulab jamun, he said “Can I have one?”
I was a bit confused. I said “Sure. Why do you need one?” He said “I love new notebooks.” I could only hug him and say “Me too.”
These small moments that one may or may not remember, these are the moments that make up one’s lifeblood, fill one’s heart and soul with joy, and provide reaffirmation that the massive step of marriage at the young age of 25 was not a mistake.
Reader, I’ve already married him. But I fall in love with him every day. And I can only thank god for my luck and for legal notepads and keep writing about the nothings that make up everything.
Are you in love? With a person, an animal, a vocation, a thing? Tell me all about it in the comments.
In case anyone is wondering, I was paid no money to write this review. Or to post the photos that I’ll shortly be posting on Instagram. (Face it, nobody *pays* a book nerd with 100 followers on her blog to review their stuff.)
Now that that’s out of the way, hello all!
As everyone knows, I’m an avid follower of Booktube and I frequently suffer from a very serious affliction called “Owl-crate-envy” when I watch my favourite Youtubers unbox their fancy owl crates,. I’m certain I’m not alone in this. Right? Feel free to chime in indignantly in the comments, fellow-bookworms!
Weelllllll…. book lovers of India, I’m here to tell you that we have something of an equivalent in India! YES! Big shoutout to my friend Varsha who linked me to them! They’re called The Big Book Box . They have fun variants of their monthly boxes for people with different budgets as well as limited edition boxes. I ordered the Cappuccino box for myself, which is the biggest regular box, and decided to go only with a one month subscription because…well…money.
I’m going to tell you the negative things about the Big Book Box in this part of the post that shall come to be known for all eternity as the “pre-gushing”.
So, firstly, my box was very, very late. Their website says that they ship boxes ordered in the previous month in the first week of the month in question. I planned accordingly to have the box sent to my house, rather than my office, because I was home for the first two weeks this month. I figured it should definitely come by the 2nd week at least. BUT the box came today, the 23rd. So, I had to tell the irritated delivery guy who called me while I was at office, to give it to my elderly neighbour while my dog barked his head off that a rando is loitering outside his territory conversing with his human. Inconvenience all round. I’m chill with receiving the box anytime but I like to know with reasonable certainty. So… that was an issue. Maybe it was just a one-time thing. I’m unsure. 🙂
Secondly, one of the books that I was sent is a sequel. And I haven’t read the first book. I’m a bookworm with a serious book-buying problem. Why are you sending me three books, in addition to the three books I bought this weekend, and then making me buy a seventh book this month by making me buy the first part?*
Well, that was that with the complaints. Now, on to the loot!
This is how the box looks: ^_^
As you can see, it’s a bright happy sky-blue, full of promises, like a clear summer day when you’re a kid.
It only gets better as you open it. The theme for the May Box is Women of Substance, which is fabulous on so many levels.
The back of this card has a sweet letter from the management of the Big Book Box.
The box is a great collection of books, bookish merch, pretty goodies and FOOD.
They’d thoughtfully included a box of nachos and salsa so that I may munch as I read. That’s how I know for sure that the people who run The Big Book Box are true-blue bookworms.
They also sent a mason jar, which is something I’ve always wanted but which was a bit extravagant for me to buy for myself. It will be put to good use during this sweltering tropical summer. 🙂 The best part is that it comes with a reusable hard plastic straw.
They sent a little scented candle, which the letter said is lavender-scented, which is one of my favourite fragrances. That’s a happy coincidence.
They also sent a cute floral coaster, which is a bit sad since I just bought uber-cool Batman coasters this weekend. It is pretty though, and probably more work appropriate that the Batman ones.
One incredibly clever thing they’ve sent is a little sack of painted pebbles which can be used to play tic-tac-toe.
They sent bookish themed pins which took me back to a simpler time when my college bags were cloth and covered in pins. Let me tell you, guys, my pins were a conversation starter! Now I carry fancy leather handbags which truly stifle my original style, which is geek chic.
They’re female-themed in addition to book themed (Well, except the first one below, which is universal :p) and I think y’all deserve a close-up of each of them.
They’ve sent a simple but charming Deathly-Hallows-themed dream-catcher which is a delightful addition to my happy wall.
They’ve sent a Frida Kahlo bookmark. 😀
They also sent these information cards on inspirational women, along with lovely cartoons of them that I can’t stop staring at. Here’s a visual treat for you as well:
And now we come to the item that I think will make more people eat their hearts out than anything else on here:
THIS HARRY POTTER NOTEBOOK…
…Where the pages look like this:
THOSE SYMPTOMS YOU’RE SUFFERING FROM? THAT’S CALLED A CUTENESS OVERDOSE.
And nowwww, the books! 😀
They sent the June issue of a magazine called Barefoot Sunshine, which is a name which makes me smile. It’s going to be my reward for finishing this post. If I like it, I may subscribe to it. They have a subscription option right on their website. I miss receiving magazines in the mail. 🙂
The Cappuccino box has three actual books in it:
One is a paperback called Perfect by Cecelia Ahern. It’s the sequel to Flawed. That they’ve sent me a sequel upsets me, but the book itself seems interesting. So yay.
They also sent a tiny hardback called Raymie Nightingale by Kate Dicamillo, which is giving off Jackie Wilson-esque vibes, which makes me happy.
And now we come to the pièce de résistance, the book that has me the most excited, the book that I intend to read to my future children, the book that i am convinced will pass, well-loved and battered, through generations in my family is the best book that I could have ever hoped to see in my box:
I will read one story from it each night, as suggested by the brilliant people at the The Big Book Box.
I definitely recommend that you buy this box at least once in your life. Indulge. Treat yourself. Why would you deprive your dad of the joy of coming home to you kneeling by your teapoy fishing through packaging in a box while grinning like a maniac? Why would you miss the opportunity of having him chuckle that you look like a kid again as you rip bubble wrap off of your new mason jar? Get it, guys. Because it’s worth it.
Go ahead and check them out. 🙂
Tell me in the comments if you guys have tried out the Big Book Box before, or if my review made you want to. :p Tell me if you’ve read any of the books here before, and what you thought of them. And mostly tell me which of my loot made you the most jealous! Let me know in the comments, guys!
Here’s the thing, guys. I’m reading Norse Mythology right now and I have a couple of non-fiction books I want to read after including The Big Short. So I thought I’d make the rest of May a non-fiction fortnight. But. BUT. IS a book about mythology truly non-fiction?! Or is it fiction? Help me figure it out. Please! I NEEDS TO KNOW. If I can’t figure it out, the rest of May will have to be called “Fortnight”.
Give May a makeover, guys! Give me your opinion in the comments!
What do you get when you cross a socially awkward book blogger with a book-worshipping tech geek? Brilliant ideas, that’s what! (What, you thought I was going to make a joke? Pfft.)
My friend Tanya and I were discussing the deteriorating quality of life, you know, as one does; and we decided that our lives would be much improved if they included more reading. And we also felt like they’d be further improved if they included more reading together.
Tanya thought that we should read an audiobook together. I, of course, was hesitant. I’m a purist. If your eyes aren’t bloodshot and you aren’t hugging a book (Or Kindle: I’m not that much of a purist) and rocking in silent agony, are you really, truly reading?
Tanya finally bribed me with something that she knew can never fail to work on me: Beautiful British voices. She told me we could listen to any one of the Harry Potter books of my choice and she reminded me that Stephen Fry, the most delightful actor/writer/multi-talented human being alive, reads them out. I was sold. I’d get to listen to Stephen Fry be J.K. Rowling!
I chose Goblet of Fire, which is my favourite Harry Potter book for several, well thought-out, highly boring reasons that I won’t get into and we were ready to dive in! Sort of.
We had to figure out the when’s, where’s and how’s. The how’s were particularly bamboozling. We ended up Skyping with each other and staring at each other’s faces the entire time as we listened to the audio book. Tanya even had headphones over her earphones so she could hear me and her audio book at the same time.
Honestly, for me, Stephen Fry’s voice overshadows the book a bit. I think that’s likely because I’ve read the book several hundred times before. He does excellent voices for each of the characters and he truly makes the book come alive. I spent a lot of time going into ecstacies over the way he says “broomstick” instead of focussing on the book.
On the other hand, Stephen Fry’s voice several lines from the book into fresh emphasis, lines that I’d forgotten about because I was so absorbed in the plot. It reminded me that J.K.’s not just a fabulous storyteller, she’s also a brilliant writer.
We’re still reading the book, part of it alone and parts of it over Skype again. The Skype bit was awkward but it was worth it to see Tanya smile and look worried at all the right parts and to have someone to snort-laugh with at all the hilarious bits.
This is the first time in a while that I’ve read (listened to?) Harry Potter. I think it might even be the first time I’ve read it as an adult. This time around, my heart ached worse than ever for Harry and for small orphan children suffering everywhere. Reading children’s books as an adult is always a bittersweet experience, isn’t it?
Maybe I’ll do more posts about this reread of Harry Potter if I have more things to say. However, I’ll admit this much: this experience definitely has made me more open-minded towards audiobooks. I didn’t think anything could make Harry Potter better but Stephen Fry’s exquisite voice has.
Does anyone else read audiobooks? Has anyone else read the Harry Potter ones? Does anyone else want to cuddle with Stephen Fry’s voice? Let me know in the comments!
I was sitting in court yesterday, and knew I was in for a long wait, so I decided to buy a book on the Kindle app. You know, as one does.
I went through my entire “to be read” list on Goodreads to pick a book that was reasonably priced and that I didn’t already own in physical form. Finally, I decided upon Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, which is a children’s book. I, of course, adore children’s books..
I heard about this book in the movie, Stuck in Love, which is one of my all-time favourite movies. (My friend Tanvi is smirking proudly somewhere and saying “See? I give good movie recommendations!” Yes, you do, Thud. That’s one of the many reasons I love you.) That movie is full of aspiring authors and authors, and I figured, if they like this book, it must have done something right.
I was right.
This book hit a lot of the right buttons for me. It’s about a thoughtful little boy called Leigh Botts who wants to be an author. He writes letters to his favourite author, Mr. Henshaw, who writes back hilariously. His favourite book by the author is called Ways to Amuse a Dog. He writes 4 or 5 letters to Mr. Henshaw over a few years about the book and talks about doing various book reports and other projects for school on that book. And then this happens:
Dear Mr. Henshaw,
I got your letter and did what you said. I read a different book by you. I read Moose on Toast.
When I read that line, I almost exploded with laughter in court. I had to pause and breathe deeply to compose myself.
Mr. Henshaw encourages Leigh to write a diary, which he does, “because his mom still won’t get the TV repaired.” He starts off his journal entries by writing “Dear Mr. Pretend Henshaw” which made my heart explode with love.
The entire book is either in the form of letters or journal entries, which is, as everyone knows, my favourite style of book. I found out recently that such books are called epistolary books. So yes. I love epistolary novels and chapter books.
This book had a great librarian in it, and it made me think of how librarians were my superheroes when I was a child. I remember going to my school librarian and saying “Ma’am, my exams are over. Please give me a fat book to read.”. I need to buy fewer books and go to the library more again. I need to donate some of my books to a library. This book made me realise that librarians are superheroes, not just for me, but for book-loving children everywhere.
I adored how real this story was. It talks about the struggles of divorce, poverty, lost love and the deep, great injustice of struggling to survive as a child in an adults’ world. It talks about being invisible and lonely. And it talks about these things from the perspective of a quiet, clever and funny child.
Oh, and Leigh Botts loves dogs. There is a dog called Bandit in this book. That’s always a good thing. Dogs really tie a book together.
I thought that the ending was a bit abrupt and that the ends tied together a bit too tidily, which is why this book wasn’t a perfect five stars for me. But I did adore it.
Guys, you know you’re growing old when you read a good children’s book and you can’t wait to read it to your future children. But yeah. This is one of the books that I can’t wait to read to my children. It really affirmed my belief that children’s books that have to be, well, childish. I would recommend this book to everyone of all ages.
Have you read this book? Did you like it? What are some of your favourite children’s books? What are some of your favourite books from your childhood? Have you read any other books by Beverly Cleary? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
As you guys may have deduced from my pointed silence, I am suffering from abject writer’s block. It may be time for that to end now, however. As you know, there no better inspiration that irritation and I’ve read a book today that’s irritated me for many reasons.
The book is The House that BJ Built by Anuja Chauhan.
First, a bit of background: After downloading the Kindle app on my phone, I’ve taken to randomly buying inexpensive (and sometimes slightly expensive) books that catch my fancy when I’m bored on my commutes. These are books that are usually easy to read page-turners.Potboilers, so to speak. (Although I did read The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood recently, which is a dystopic novel. I liked it at the time, although, on second thought, some of it irritated me as well. But that’s a topic for another day) The reason I do this despite having a long suffering, neglected and marvellously well-written Wolf Hall in my bag is that it’s usually 8pm by the time I leave office, by which time it’s too dark to read a regular book.
A friend of mine told me Anuja Chauhan’s books are quite fun, so I decided to go for it. Needless to say, I may never talk to her again. (Kidding. Mostly)
Anyway, back to The House that BJ Built:
This book started decently enough. I went into it expecting a light-hearted romantic comedy, nothing too heavy and it seemed to deliver. As I read on, though, it mostly only irritated me.
I’ve decided to make bullet points on the most facepalm moments in the book.
The author uses the word “pugnacious” too often
The book treats issues of domestic violence too lightly and seriously trivialises it. What else do you expect from lower-class Muslims, right? Completely normal. And fixable by a vasectomy without the consent of the abusive husband
The male protagonist thinks it’s ok to kiss one woman while in a relationship with another so long as you don’t have sex with the woman you’re in a relationship with after having kissed the new woman.
The female protagonist not only agrees with the above, but also is touched that he didn’t have sex after having kissed her
Why the fuck are step-cousins romancing each other?! I get that y’all aren’t related by blood, but eesh.
The Thakur girls repeatedly mock their sister for shaving her head and not having her upper lip waxed. Sure, she turns out to be “evil” at the end of the book but maybe she wouldn’t have hated your guts if you hadn’t mocked her appearance or her bodily autonomy. Just a thought.
Why the fuck are north-easterners referred to as chinks and other derogatory terms so often?! Is it supposed to be a wry social commentary or something, because it doesn’t seem that way at all.
There’s a money hungry Muslim who’s supposedly standing up for the rights of two north-easterners (who are actually from Bhutan!) and it so happens that he was actually being an opportunistic asshole. Therefore, as the characters conclude, these Muslims are all like this only. Extreme facepalm
The representation of the judicial system made me want to weep. They discovered that a will was fake and they didn’t even have to tell the judge. The case, along with the interim order not to alienate, authomatically ceased to exist and they could sell the property.
SELLING IMMOVABLE PROPERTY IS NOT THAT SIMPLE
Trademark infringement is fine so long as you have big eyes, curly black hair, and a big butt and big boobs while infringing the trademarks.
The female protagonist is referred to as “brat” and does not mind it despite being a 26 year old entrepreneur. Other characters are also referred to as “brat”, mostly girls and women of various ages. They all accept it as a matter of course.
When a character calls out the male protagonist for making a sexist item song, he says that he has 4 aunts who would ostracize him if he made a sexist song and therefore it isn’t sexist.
The mother of a seemingly talented female actor yells at her daughter for not stealing the male protagonist from his girlfriend in the way that the female protagonist was able to.
Everyone and his neighbour is concerned that the youngest Thakur girl is unmarried even though she seems successful and fulfilled
One of the characters talks about “the cheerleader effect”, which is from the sitcom How I Met your Mother, without any attribution whatsoever. But eh. We already know how the author feels about intellectual property.
The only likable character, BJ, the grandfather, dies early on in the book.
Seriously, what kind of name is BJ? You know about “cheerleader effect” but you don’t know what BJ is??!
So… That was a painful book to read. I wouldn’t recommend it. But at least it made me blog again. So yay… I think.
If you’ve read this book, tell me what you thought of it? Feel free to tell me if you disagree. Have you read other books by the same author? How did you like them? Let me know in the comments.
So, this year, I’ve decided to do the Read Harder Challenge that’s run by Goodreads. Some of the categories of books that it requires me to read have just made me go “wut”, which is, I believe, the charm of the challenge.
Please follow the link above to get a hold of the list (and downloadable document) of all the categories of books you need to read to successfully complete the challenge. There are 24 in all, which adds up to a reasonable two a month, especially since it is permissible to read one book that fulfills multiple categories.
I always think it’s a good idea to read books diversely and outside my comfort zone and outside my genres of choice even if I’m reading for pleasure because it’s helpful to me as an aspiring writer. However, even I weren’t an aspiring writer, I think it’s a good idea to learn something about the points of view of people who don’t think the same way as me. With the world getting smaller each day, and with social media becoming an echo chamber of our thoughts and ideas, varied perspectives have become more valuable than ever before. Varied opinions are rarer still. Varied thoughts, varied priorities, varied ideas are all something that can be picked up from books. Even if I’m only reading for pleasure, and I don’t want any sort of information or knowledge from the books that I read, I feel like reading diversely makes me a different person; maybe even a better person. Maybe.
Serious thoughts aside (Earnest is not a colour that suits me), who knows where my new favourite book or my new favourite author may be hiding, right?
From the comfort of our homes and cosy cafés (or taxis or metros or buses or offices under our desks or in line at the bank. Demonetisation, amirite?), let’s dive into books and go exploring in 2017. Come #readharder with me, guys. Journeys are always more fun with friends!
Watch out for the hashtag #readharder on my social media, guys.
I’ve had something of a reading slump the last couple of months. It wasn’t exactly a reading slump because I did read a bit, but I didn’t finish most of the books that I started. This explains why my ‘currently reading’ shelf on Goodreads has 10 books in it, although I’m actually, really reading just the one book. The other books that have been retained on that shelf are… aspirational, shall we say? (Don’t worry. I frequently don’t understand myself so there’s no judgment if you don’t understand me.)
Anyway, the book that I’m currently reading is White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I saw a quote from the book on a book group that I’m a part of on Facebook, and I saw that several people whose taste in books I trust had commented that they love this book. So I bought it for my Kindle. I only got around to reading it a few weeks later, though.
I’m really enjoying this book, which is about a girl Astrid and her life after her mother Ingrid, is imprisoned for murder. Her mother is a published poet of some acclaim before her incarceration.
Astrid is a child who grows up in the background of her mother’s whims and fancies and she warms to anyone who gives her some attention. She is a talented artist.
I love the writing in this book. It’s beautiful, poetic and picturesque but it’s so measured. The author never gets carried away. She is never verbose and it’s clear that there isn’t one word in here that she didn’t want there and that she didn’t put in there after much thought and deliberation.
I love how an absent mother like Ingrid still has specific ideas about what her daughter should and shouldn’t be. Her letters from prison contain quite excellent advice, actually. This book is so good of quotable quotes, and I keep highlighting them. This is a book that I need to reread. I never reread books anymore. I wonder why that is. I need to set aside days where I only reread books; lovely, heart-wrenching books like this one.
I don’t know where this book is going, though, don’t know how it’ll end. I’ll do a full review once I understand that. Till then, I’ll just go along for the journey and bask in the language and smile whimsically to myself at intervals.
I’m kind of glad this is likely the last book I’ll read this year because it’s frightening but kind of bittersweet, just like this year has been. I’ll do a post describing this year in review for you guys soon.
Have any of you read this book? What did you think of it? What’s your favourite quote from this book? What is everyone else reading this holiday season? Let me know in the comments!
ATTENTION: This post contains explicit content. It talks of alternative sexuality, female sexual habits, and a woman who does not want babies. If any of this is offensive to you, please don’t read further. Also, NSFW in case you hadn’t figured already.
I am doing nanowrimo this year! For those of you who have been living under a rock, or those of you whose mummy-papa just got WiFI, nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. This makes no sense because the event is very much international, but nanowrimo is a better acronym than innowrimo. Anyhow, the idea is that anyone who signs up for it undertakes the mad task of writing a 50,000 novel in the month of November. Third time’s the charm, one hopes, because I’ve never won nanowrimo before even though I tried in 2014 and 2015.
This year, I will be writing a novel about the world ending . I’m in the process of fleshing out an idea that came to me in a dream. Yes. You read that right. I initially intended it to be a short story but, courtesy of my imagination taking the idea for a long spin uphill on a winding road, then crashing it off a cliff and resuscitating it, bruised but unbroken, it’s now a potential novel idea.
I don’t want to give much of the plot away because spoilers. (I swear that’s the reason. It’s totally not because I have no idea what the plot really is. Totally. -nervous laugh.-)
Now to the dilemma:
I had long since decided that all my protagonists are going to be female because I don’t understand the male psyche and I would never presume to imagine that I do. (Maybe if men waxed their legs, I could have my legs waxed like a certain bestselling author and learn everything about them, but sadly, most men don’t wax their legs. And I don’t enjoy waxing either, so that’s out.)
It also just so happens that every single one of these women pops into my head, partially formed, but determined to be androgynous in appearance and bisexual.My present protagonist Megha is no exception to this rule. We’ve just met, but it’s already deadly obvious. This still isn’t the dilemma.
NOW to the dilemma for real:
Megha is sexually promiscuous. Vociferously so. She’d slap me if I tried to tie her down. And I don’t think that this is something anyone should judge… or care. My Megha does not want to date. My Megha does not want many babies with Mr. Perfect. My Megha did not dream about her wedding day since she was a little girl. My Megha does not even want a civil union with a Mrs. Perfect. What my Megha wants is sex. And a lot of it.
My problem is this; historically, bisexuality, when acknowledged as real, has been associated with promiscuity. When I write Megha, will I be promoting sex positivity for women like I intended, or will I just end up perpetuating the stereotype? How do I avoid perpetuating the stereotype? How do I make it known that yes, Megha has a lot of sex but that’s not because she’s bisexual but because it’s fun?
Are any of you doing nanowrimo? What kind of story are you writing? Have any of you written an LGBTQ+ character before? Let me know in the comments.
Also, add me as a writing buddy on the nanowrimo website if you’re participating. I’m owlishwriter.
This is a review of the book Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar. Honestly, I chose to read it because it’s been translated from Marathi by Jerry Pinto. I loved his book Em and the Big Hoom. I knew nothing more about the book or the author and I like it that way. It helps me to keep an open mind while reviewing the book.
I’m swept away by this book after having read it over the course of a long day at court. It’s layered and well-written and transcends all genre. The fact that the author of this marvellous piece was 20 when he started the book and 22 when he finished it, makes me want to stand up on a chair and applaud and simultaneously to weep with jealousy.
Simply put, it’s the story of a brother and sister in love with the same man. The book is divided into two parts, each written in first person by one of the siblings. It’s a love story, yes, a love triangle if you will; but mostly it’s a portrait. It’s a portrait of lower middle class life in Maharashtra, it’s a portrait of a generation clever enough to rubbish antiquated tradition but not strong enough to break away from regressive familial bonds. It’s a portrait about how mundane love can be, and yet so overwhelming, how it can make one forget the world around us. It’s a portrait of a society where mosr types of romantic love are forced to stay hidden, of a society where homogeneity and acceptance are the biggest aspirations.
It’s a small book, which only brushes the surface of each of the above aspects, but it’s nuanced enough that it does not remain a photograph. The work that was put into the resulting simplicity is apparent.
I love both the main characters, Tanay and Anuja. However, the seem to be caricatures or uni-dimensional stereotypes, rather than fleshed out persons.
I liked that Tanay’s part was in the form of a letter addressed to the man he loves, who remains unnamed. I like the digressions and the non-linear style of narration, and the way he circles back to thoughrs after having fleshed them out with background. I loved that Anuja kept a journal. She says that life felt like a hairball and keeping a journal helped to smooth things out. I completely agree. As everyone knows,
I quite enjoyed the fact that she’s so clueless about her brother’s feelings for her own lover because it serves to demonstrate the invisibility of minority sexualities. It’s simply inconceivable, even to the most loving and well-meaning people.
I felt that every line in this book was loaded with purpose and meaning. For instance, Tanay observed his parents’ relationship and craved a permanent relationship to “grow into” while Anuja only wondered why her mother does nothing for herself and has no space of her own.
On Goodreads, I read that the author felt that Anuja and Tanay are just masculine and feminine sides of the same person and not two separate persons at all. That confused me because I didn’t get that feeling at all, even though my reading was coloured by that quote that I read. I kept looking for signs of that being the case, and I just didn’t find any. All I saw are two siblings who were close and compatible to each other, and “different” in a family that greatly valued homogeneity. One sibling recovered and started to go down the path of redemption while the other seemed to get lost in an ocean of sorrow.
More than anything else, I saw this book as a portrait of a certain type of life in a certain type of family. I also felt that the purpose of the third sibling, Aseem, the golden boy, is introduced only to juxtapose the reception of a conforming child with two other children who could not and would not conform to the values of the Joshi family.
I want to end this review with my favourite quote from the book, from Anuja’s journal:
Our house was big enough for middle-class dreams, but not for privacy.
Has anyone read this book? What did you think of it? Do you agree with my take on it? Do you agree with the author? Do you think this is a “gay novel”? Let me know in the comments?