Sex Criminals: Volume 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

????? Title: Sex Criminals: Volume 1: One Weird Trick
Author: Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Publisher: Image Comics
ISBN: 9781607069461
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comic
Pages: 128
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I heard of “Sex Criminals” while browsing through Flavorwire and I knew I had to read it. I then realized that I had been living under a rock. The first volume came out in 2014 and I still had not heard of it, forget reading it. “Sex Criminals” is a very unusual kind of graphic novel. I call it unusual because it may not be suited to everyone’s reading taste. It is as the title suggests, all about sex and crime (the crime bit not so much as a directive of all the sex) and I don’t know if too many people in our country will take to both of these very inherent human behavioral tendencies.

Sex Criminals - Image 3

“Sex Criminals” is your classic boy-meets-girl story and at the same time it is way beyond that. Suzie and Jon meet at a party and hit off instantly with both being able to rattle lines from Lolita. They hook up as regular 20-somethings would and then they discover something about each other, which each thought was only special to them – they can literally stop time when they orgasm. To me that is the ultimate way to come (literally of course). The world is deadened. It is as quiet as you want it to be and it is just you and other person and your moment.

Sex Criminals - Image 1

Suzie calls it “the Quiet”. Jon calls it the “Cumworld” (the man versus woman names given are hilarious). This oddity brings them closer than they have ever been to anyone else and rightly so. That is when they think of the idea of robbing banks to save a library from being shut, the library that Suzie works at. This is when they realize that there is more to them and so do the readers.

This book is all about sex. So if you cannot stomach something as natural as this, I recommend that you do not even come close to this book. It is not for you. There are no roles laid out here. There is no agenda. There is only pure and not-forbidden sex which doesn’t need time or place to be enjoyed. It is the kind of sex that gets you in a trance and makes you see the entire world differently. Maybe in all honesty, we need more of this. All of it and more to be candid.

Sex Criminals - Image 2

I could not stop thinking of how much of a sensation would this graphic novel have caused had it released in bookshops in India. What would the reaction be like? Would parents forbid and avert their children’s (teenagers I mean) eyes? Would hypocrisy take over or not? I would be most curious to see how that works out. Anything related to sex in our country and we clamp up everything behind the veil of tradition and culture. This book is the anti-thesis of everything we have ever objected to.

“Sex Criminals” has deep character stories as well which I am sure will be explored in the second volume (which has just released by the way). Who are the Sex Police? What is their role in the book? Why can’t they be a part of the zone? You have to read this graphic novel. It is funny, intelligent, feminist and unapologetic all at the same time. Suzie and Jon are just regular people with regular issues, only a bit more aware of their drive and what it can do to them and the people around them. The comic is beautiful and fantastic. It is obviously one of its kind and I cannot wait to read the second volume.

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All That Could Have Been by Mahesh Bhatt with Suhrita Sengupta

All that Could have Been by Mahesh Bhatt Title: All that Could Have Been
Author: Mahesh Bhatt with Suhrita Sengupta
Publisher: Speaking Tiger
ISBN: 9788193071014
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 152
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3/5

I am all for movies based on books and sometimes it is also strange to see a movie turned to a book or that’s what I think about ‘All that Could Have Been’ which will soon release as “Hamari Adhuri Kahani”, directed by Mohit Suri and based on Mahesh Bhatt’s Dad and Mom’s story. So I really don’t know what came first – the script or the book. I would assume the script.

Having said that, “All that could have Been” is a crisp book which does not beat round the bush. It is not lengthy and that is in itself a big deal for a book to achieve in these times. The book is about unrequited love and at the same time it is about love that surpasses all of this and does not believe in what the world has to dictate.

Vasudha Prasad is a single mother, raising her child against all odds. She wants to keep the memory of his father alive for him by writing notes to him. The father in question, Hari Prasad could not care less and is missing for a while.

Enter Aarav Ruparel, a rich hotelier who has no fixed address. He has lived out of a suitcase and is amongst one of the richest men alive. As fate would have it, Vasudha and Aarav’s path cross and the rest that follows is something which is not beyond their control.

This is a story of love and longing. It is about letting go and patiently waiting in the wings for love to be realized. I will for sure not give away the ending but I have to tell you that this book is a breeze. The writing is fast-paced and reads like a movie (I was not surprised at all). The dialogues are profound in some places and those are worth marking and referring to again. It is a read that can get over in an hour and a half. “All that could have Been” is a love letter to romance and everything that is possible and yet not.

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Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer by Ann Morgan

Reading the World by Ann Morgan Title: Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer
Author: Ann Morgan
Publisher: Harvill Secker
ISBN: 9781846557873
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoirs
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

It was about a year ago, when I was led to a site where I discovered a lady who was reading a book from every country. It was her reading project for the year and I was most intrigued by the concept. I then knew that I had to read the book of how it all began when it came out.

“Reading the World” by Ann Morgan is literally about a woman’s journey across the world through books from each country. It is obviously not as simple as this. There is more to the entire process and revelation which this book is all about.
I am a big fan of books about books and that also blends in cultures of various places, which Morgan manages to do beautifully in this book. I agree that initially I did have a problem getting into it, given the tone and structure, but once you do, it is an effortless read (at least for some I am sure).

If you are expecting reviews of every book she read, then you should check out her site, ayearofreadingtheworld.com and not the book, because the book is not about that. The book is about Morgan’s experiences to get to the project and how people all over the world contributed to it. “Reading the World” is about how she chose the books for the project, the things she learned about literature and the experiences that made her question everything.

Books about books and the experience of reading just goes to show that there is so much hope for the world. I say that because I genuinely believe in the redemptive power of books and each book that Morgan picked up led her to questioning, working it all over again and reading books which she otherwise would not have. I urge all book lovers to get hold of this one and read it. It will make you more mindful of the literature that exists in the world, which is not ridden only by American or British literature, but a whole lot more.

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Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice by Lisa Genova Title: Still Alice
Author: Lisa Genova
Publisher: Pocket Books, Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781501106422
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 353
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

One of the many diseases of old-age that I am most frightened of is Alzheimer’s. The thought of losing all memory, day by day and not knowing anything at all makes me break into a sweat. The idea of not recognizing your loved ones even more so. I don’t think anyone should go through that torture. It is just one of those diseases that take everything away from you.

So when you read a book where the disease is almost the protagonist, you are completely overwhelmed and more than anything else you also cheer for the person for being a survivor and battling it at all costs. Dr. Alice Howland has it all going for her. She is a psychiatry professor at Harvard. She has three children and a loving husband. She is fifty years of age and Alzheimer’s has struck. It is about her family coping with her disease and how their lives change forever. “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova is a book that will make you think about life and death and the consequences of life being too short.

Genova skillfully explores Alzheimer’s through Alice. The onset of it and the rapid progression as shown from September 2002 to September 2005 will make you turn the pages and feel for Alice and her family, which maybe you must not have in a very long time. For instance, the unwell Alice spotting a message the healthier Alice left on voicemail and figuring what it was will absolutely break your heart. There are many such instances throughout the book.

I was majorly taken in by the book because Alzheimer’s is one thing that has always intrigued me. One day you know it all and the other you are reduced to becoming someone who can’t even remember his or her name. “Still Alice” had me in from the very first page and did not let go of me at all. I recommend this to all readers – it will appeal to everyone and probably also make you realize that time is too short and life must be lived nonetheless.

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Epic Retold: #Mahabharata #TwitterFiction #Bhima #140Characters by Chindu Sreedharan

Epic Retold by Chindu Sreedharan Title:Epic Retold: #Mahabharata #TwitterFiction #Bhima #140Characters
Author: Chindu Sreedharan
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9350293951
Genre: Mythology, Fiction
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There are now perspectives in mythology. This one’s perspective and that one’s. Maybe as readers we are just too used to such perspectives out in the form of books and what each one has to say about the epics and the lesser-known characters or the more well-known ones. There are different ways and means also to project this – sometimes with illustrations and sometimes through other unique ways of writing. Off late, it is the 140-character stories or through flash-fiction. While I do not read books in the so-called “new formats”, this time around, “Epic Retold: #Mahabharata #TwitterFiction #Bhima #140Characters” by Chindu Sreedharan managed to hold my attention, right from the start to the end.

Initially, the book was difficult to get into. For the life of me, I could not get myself to read a book in the form of tweets with hashtags. It just seemed inappropriate to me. And then as I started turning the pages, I was intrigued and sucked in so to say in the story. The difference in this format is that you as a reader feel that all the action is happening live, in front of you, when of course you know that it has been thousands of years since those events occurred.

Bhima has to me always been a fascinating character. He is strong. He is abled. He is also quite a mush-pot, from what mythology has to depict. At the same time, he is also the one who can snap the neck of an opponent in less than a minute. There is a lot going on with this character from the Mahabharata and yet the only brothers we ever know or speak of are Yudhistar or Arjuna. The other three are almost forgotten, which is not the case when it comes to this book.

Chindu Sreedharan tells the Mahabharata from Bhima’s perspective and through tweets. The book is written in an easy-to-read manner and does not just skim through the details. It might seem that way because of the format, but the format also works for the book because it is not lengthy, nor does it put too much pressure on the reader.

“Epic Retold” may just be one of its kind of book in a format that will work for more books to come. I enjoyed it a lot and if you are looking for a book that is mythological in nature, but with a different spin to it, then I recommend this one. A short read but highly satisfying.

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Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig

Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig Title: Second Star to the Right
Author: Deborah Hautzig
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN: 9780141305806
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 176
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I am back to my reading project of ‘The Novel Cure’ and this time since I finished D, I began with E – the first ailment being “Eating Disorders” and the first cure was “Second Star to the Right” by Deborah Hautzig. I didn’t realize the book was a young adult novel till I started reading it and since I love Young Adult Novels, I was completely bowled over.

Leslie Heller is a bright, attractive and a regular teenager who lives a life of privilege in New York City. Her life takes a drastic turn when she begins to diet in her quest for happiness and that becomes an obsession with her, to the point of death by starvation. She and her family struggle with it and at the same time Leslie also has to battle with her past and her Jewish roots.

The book deals with the emotional and mental trauma that an anorexia nervosa patient goes through. It is autobiographical and therefore the writing becomes so strong and emotional. Leslie as seen through Deborah (because she is based on her) is raw, intense and confused. The writing is heart-breaking as you see Leslie and her family coping with anorexia and coming to terms with what can be done to cure it.

“Second Star to the Right” puts a lot of things in perspective for teenagers, mainly about the issues of fitting-in and acceptance and what it takes in our world to be what you want to be. I think I will for one gift this book to every teenager I know to make him or her understand that life is not always about being accepted. It is about being who you want to be.

Next Up on the Novel Cure Reading Project:

Ailment: Egg on Your Tie
Cure: Restoration by Rose Tremain

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The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler Title: The Accidental Tourist
Author: Anne Tyler
Publisher: Ballantine Books, Random House
ISBN: 9780345452009
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

This book has wanted my attention for the longest time and I have ignored it for the longest time, till February 2015 set in and somehow this book came back to me and I knew I had to read it. “The Accidental Tourist” by Anne Tyler is a book that is not a fast read. It will not have you turn the pages at a neck-breaking speed. It will not do that and if you expect that from a book, then you should not read it. “The Accidental Tourist” is a book that should be read slowly, daily even, and in right doses. To me, that was the only way to read this book.

A couple’s marriage is lost in the wake of their 12-year-old’s senseless murder. Macon Leary is now lonely. He is a man who believes in the ordinary and the structure that he has built around his life. He is a writer of travel guides and does not do well with changes. Sarah Leary cannot cope with the loss of their son. She walks out on Macon. Macon is left to pick up the pieces and then he meets Muriel, who sets his orderly life spinning.

“The Accidental Tourist” is a book that will make you go out and hug people. It is the kind of book of new beginnings, lost and forgotten relationships and what it does to human beings. Anne Tyler is a master of writing about relationships and the modern frameworks they are bound by. She avoids the melodrama and eases the reader into the story. “The Accidental Tourist” is a book which you must savour and read and think about after.

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