387 Short Stories: Day 319: Inland Sea by Stuart Dyber

Day 319 - Ecstatic Cahoots

Today was Day 319 of the 387 Short Story Project. I read a unique story, written by a unique writer. I had not heard of him earlier and I am glad that I did now. Stuart Dyber is a writer who is full of empathy and wit at the same time.

“Inland Sea” is a story which is short and extremely short at that. At the same time, the story could be about anything. That is what I love about it. The story just describes a scene and it is left to the reader to interpret the plot.

Do read it. You will be marveled by it.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo Title: Because of Winn-Dixie
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 9780744578294
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 181
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

There are a lot of authors who write about animals and humans, but I doubt if any of them write as well as Kate DiCamillo does on the topic. I was first introduced to her when I read, “Flora and Ulysses” and since then I have not turned back. Kate DiCamillo’s stories are heart-warming and each of them features an animal and then the love between humans and animals is most visible.

“Because of Winn-Dixie” is a book about a girl and her chance meeting with a dog that changes everything in her life and in the new town she and her father move to. Ten-year old Opal learns 10 things about her long gone mother from her preacher father. That happens because of Winn-Dixie, the dog she finds at a departmental store and things are then never the same.

I love DiCamillo’s writing. There is of course the simplicity, which is needed for a children’s book but her books are also accessible to adults, when it comes to emotions and feelings. This book made me want to watch the movie. DiCamillo packs so much in less than two hundred pages and with every turn of the page, you either smile or choke up or both. If you want to start reading children’s books, I strongly recommend you read Kate DiCamillo.

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387 Short Stories : Day 294 to Day 318

Day 294: 29th of September 2014: Zelig by Benjamin Rosenblatt
Day 295: 30th of September 2014: Wild Plums by Grace Stone Coates
Day 296: 1st of October 2014: Willi by E.L. Doctorow
Day 297: 2nd of October 2014: A Poetics for Bullies by Stanley Elkin
Day 298: 3rd of October 2014: Redemption by John Gardner
Day 299: 4th of October 2014: Verona: A Young Woman Speaks by Harold Brodkey
Day 300: 5th of October 2014: The Ledge by Lawrence Sargent Hall
Day 301: 6th of October 2014: Water Liars by Barry Hannah
Day 302: 7th of October 2014: Least Resistance by Wayne Harrison
Day 303: 8th of October 2014: Into Silence by Marlin Barton
Day 304: 9th of October 2014: Bullet Number Two by Hannah Tinti
Day 305: 10th of October 2014: Do Something by Kate Walbert
Day 306: 11th of October 2014: The Bris by Eileen Polllack
Day 307: 12th of October 2014: Allegiance by Aryn Kayle
Day 308: 13th of October 2014: Balto by T.C. Boyle
Day 309: 14th of October 2014: Gunpowder Alley by Bill Pronzini
Day 310: 15th of October 2014: Midair by Frank Conroy
Day 311: 16th of October 2014: The Bystander by Gina Berriault
Day 312: 17th of October 2014: The Lover of Horses by Tess Gallagher
Day 313: 18th of October 2014: Rock Springs by Richard Ford
Day 314: 19th of October 2014: The Misfits by Arthur Miller
Day 315: 20th of October 2014: Akhnilo by James Salter
Day 316: 21st of October 2014: Walking Out by David Quammen
Day 317: 22nd of October 2014: Letters from the Samantha by Mark Helprin
Day 318: 23rd of October 2014: Bright and Morning Star by Richard Wright

Congratulations, by the Way by George Saunders

Congratulations by the Way Title: Congratulations, By the Way
Author: George Saunders
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-1408859346
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 64
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

It is a small book. It is something that you will perhaps read in half an hour. It is the kind of book though that will remain in your subconscious forever. It is an essay. It is a Commencement speech given by George Saunders at Syracuse University in May 2013. The speech is about kindness, about what it means to be kind and perhaps the only regrets he has ever had have been those when he was not kind to people.

“Congratulations, By the Way” is a book which will make you reflect and wonder about life and its worth. The book does not proclaim to teach you anything and maybe if you want to, you will probably not learn anything from it either. But I also think that kindness is something which is inherent, and yet most of us fail miserably, at being kind.

The book is simply written and is just about being kind to one another and if possible, also to oneself. We also tend to forget sometimes how important it is to be kind to oneself. I will most certainly reread this book and also will recommend it to people – so that we never forget to be kind.

Here is the video of the speech:

What If? : Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

What If by Randall Munroe Title: What If? : Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Author: Randall Munroe
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
ISBN: 9781848549586
Genre: Non-Fiction, Science, Humour
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

If you’ve heard of “XKCD” and if you also know of their “What If” section, then you do not need an introduction to this book. You know that it will be funny, sometimes hilarious as well, and at the same time informative (that sounded a little preachy, but what the heck!). The book is not your usual comic fare and it is not even meant to be that. If you have gone through the “What If” section of the site, then you know what is in store for you, if not, then please allow me to tell you.

“What If” takes on absurd questions and provides answers to them in the most rational manner, and in the bargain ends up being funny. And then scientific explanations in the book are not difficult to grasp. They are simple and end up providing some good perspective.

The book may interest science freaks and at the same it might also interest people like me who know nothing about science and still aspire to. “What If” attempts to make science fun and it does succeed to a very large extent. There are some fascinating questions like: “What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity?” and “Would it be possible to get your teeth to such a cold temperature that they would shatter upon drinking a hot cup of coffee?”

Most questions were also asked by a lot of readers and the book is a fantastic compilation of what is available on their site. “What if” is the kind of book that can be read from any page and you will definitely break into a guffaw or two.

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Will Grayson, Will Grayson Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Authors: John Green and David Levithan
Publisher: Penguin UK
ISBN: 9780141346113
Genre: Teen, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

I have always believed in the cause of LGBT literature. More so in my country and that is targeted at teens who are confused and need some more perspective and clarity on sexual orientation. It is a pity that that is not the case in India. There are so many teenagers who still struggle with being gay and do not know what to do about it. I also wish that more writers write about what they face with sensitivity and humour as it is clearly done in “Will Grayson, Will Grayson”.

“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” is about two Wills and what happens when their lives converge. They are both in high school and each is facing his own demon. The book is special also because of Tiny Cooper – the gay teen who only wants to spread happiness and kindness and direct the most successful high-school musical of them all.

What works the most for the book is the joint writing by John Green and David Levithan. Both writers have distinct styles and this is what reflects on the pages as well. The writing is overwhelming, funny, and so real in so many parts and scenes. I am so glad that these two writers teamed up for this book. There are some brilliant secondary characters and the writers have made use of technology most aptly in the entire course of the book.

What I loved the most about the book is the honesty with which it is written. The lives of teenagers with all its confusion and chaos are accurately captured without it being over the top. The book has some beautiful moments when it seems that life is so simple and perhaps one can apply the same to one’s life; however that remains to be seen for a later date. “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” is all about being you and carrying on regardless of how life works out in the end.

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The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

The Innovators by Walter Isaacson Title: The Innovators
Author: Walter Isaacson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781471138799
Genre: Non-Fiction, Computers and Technology, Business and Investing,
Pages: 560
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I remember reading, “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson with great trepidation. I thought I would get bored. I thought I would not be interested in it for long. I thought these things and a lot of other things before I invested time in the book. I loved the book at the end of it, so much so that I thought there was not any need to pick up anything on “Steve Jobs”, since this book was most comprehensive. Walter Isaacson does it again this time with “The Innovators”.

There have been countless books written on the digitized revolution and the Silicon Valley. Walter Isaacson’s book is different in the sense that he takes a complete look at the innovators, the geniuses, the hackers, and the geeks and what they did and did not do to get the revolution going. “The Innovators” is a book which looks at everything – right from the start, to the middle and the future of entrepreneurs and creative geniuses.

“The Innovators” tracks the stories from the 19th century – to Lovelace and Babbage to the Ethernet and Xerox, the Manhattan Project, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs of course and Steve Wozniak. He covers almost all of these people and how their creativity helped them harness not only their goals, but also the clear and visible difference brought in an entire culture of people.

The writing is crisp and easy to understand. There are parts that do drag but one can overlook them in the larger scheme of the theme and essence of the book. The book is written with the view point of ideas. That is the core and essence of the book. The people of course play a very important role, but it is the ideas that take center-stage in a book like this.

Mr. Isaacson tells the story of individuals with brilliant ideas. There is sometimes collaboration of people, sometimes when people work on their own and yet at the end of it all, the reader is left with more clarity on them and the various eras in which different ideas were shaped and formed. One can then use the cliché and say then that the book is “well-researched”. The layout and the hyper-narration at times is perfect. The systematic building of concepts only lends to the overall effect of the book.

At some point, I thought that maybe some people were not included which could have been and some which perhaps did not need inclusion. The narrative is very strong and maybe again why one can see why the author could not have included everyone in the book.

“The Innovators” is one of those books that also help us to some extent see what technology could mean in the future and its implications. Overall, I would say that even if you are not a technology buff the book will appeal to you only from the point of view of knowing more about these people and the ideas they thought of. I highly recommend this one.

Here is the video of Walter Isaacson speaking about the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3umNPsKUnzA

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