You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons by Mo Willems

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons by Mo Willems Title: You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons
Author: Mo Willems
Publisher: Hyperion Books
ISBN: 9780786837472
Genre: Humour, Travel, Graphic,
Pages: 393
Source: Borrowed from a Friend
Rating: 5/5

I cannot bring myself to read funny books. That is somehow not me and neither has it struck a deal with me in the past couple of years, despite trying so hard. And then a friend told me of this book called “You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons” by Mo Willems and it was the kind of book that made me laugh out loud so much so that I had to borrow it from (which again is mostly against my grain of never borrowing, never lending) her and I loved the book!

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons - Image 1

I had heard of Mo Willems earlier as a children’s writer but this was the book that was published before his children’s books became famous. “You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons” is a travel-diary in the form of graphics and doodles and cartoons that the author experienced as he travelled almost around the world. The book has funny and unique experiences that he went through while travelling to several places and meeting different kind of people.

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons - Image 2

The book is a delight in the sense that it is satirical, humorous and at the most laugh-out-loud as well. I absolutely loved the doodles and that’s how you can see Mr. Willems grow from being a cartoonist to an illustrator when it comes to his children’s books. The book is a travel diary in the form of cartoons, each for one day of the year and that is what makes it so different and quirky, given the illustrations. I strongly urge you to read this over the weekend.

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw when it Monsoons - Image 3

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My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh Title: My Sunshine Away
Author: M.O. Walsh
Publisher: Putnam, Penguin USA
ISBN: 9780399169526
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 307
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There are books that open universes up for you. There are books that make you see life differently and make you realize that maybe growing-up is so much more than what meets the eye. It is about decisions, choices and consequences. For me, off-late there was a growing-up book that had that kind of impact the way “My Sunshine Away” by M.O. Walsh has had and in the truest sense of the word, I cannot even call it just a coming-of-age book when there is so much more to it. Also, let me add here that this is a debut novel that will knock you off your feet.

“My Sunshine Away” is set in the late-eighties in Baton Rouge, in Southern USA. It starts with a crime – the rape of a fifteen year-old girl Lindy Simpson and that is when life changes for the entire town. The idyllic suburbia is no longer what it used to be or what its residents perceived it to be. The narrator of the story was fourteen when the crime took place and he loved Lindy and how the crime and the events that followed changed him completely. The book delves deep into the psychology and limitations of human emotions and what it means to be human more than anything else.

What makes this book so different is the way it is structured. It is not just another coming-of-age story nor is it just another mystery, nor is it just another literary fiction debut. There is to more what meets the eye in this book. There are secrets that people living in every place keep to protect their loved ones. It is a lament to growing-up and innocence lost. There is a lot of guilt laced on the pages of this book, not to forget love in its purest and not-so-purest forms.

The element of the Louisiana mystery is all-pervading and almost delicious as the novel unfolds. It is a part of the story for sure but there is something else to it. The late-eighties and early-nineties nuances are captured to every single detail – the late night conversations to watching a TV show at a designated time to unfolding mysteries about yourself as you grow-up to becoming an adult from a teenager.

M.O Walsh’s prose is biting in most places and so tender in the others. There is a good mix of empathy and cruelty that shines from the pages. The book makes you realize and mull over vulnerability and what safety means. “My Sunshine Away” I think in most ways just holds a mirror to the way we live and how we really are. The book wants to make you believe in so many things nice about life and at the same time makes you see the dark places as well. I for one could not stop turning the pages on this one and highly recommend it to one and all as their next read this summer.

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365 Short Story – Season 2 – Story 3 – Such a Pretty Little Picture by Dorothy Parker

Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker

Day 3: 14th of April 2015
Story 3 : Such a Pretty Little Picture
Author: Dorothy Parket

We need storytellers such as Ms. Parker. She was in a league of her own and might I add there was no one like her and isn’t either. She wrote with such tenacity and vivacity which is now a rare trait. I have always loved reading her short stories, so today was the perfect day to read one of her stories, with it raining in the city and the weather just right for a Ms. Parker deliciousness dollop of prose.

“Such a Pretty Little Picture” is a story of the Wheelocks – Mr. and the Mrs and their daughter who is strangely named Sister. The story is of an unhappy marriage and the quiet lives we go on leading nonetheless. It is about Mr. Wheelock and how he just endures and dreams of leaving but of course cannot. It is about middle-age and its effect. It is about real people and a situation that anyone can come across as the Wheelocks’ neighbour Mrs. Cole does.

Ms. Parker brings out so many issues through one story and maybe that is why I love the way she writes. There is wit and then there is tragedy as well, which together works as a killer combination. A definite must read.

You can read the story here: http://dotonline.pbworks.com/w/page/18130594/Such%20A%20Pretty%20Little%20Picture

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Complete Stories (Penguin Classics)

365 Short Stories – Season 2 – Story 2 – The Shared Patio by Miranda July

No One Belongs Here More Than You. Stories by Miranda July

Day 2: 13th of April 2015
Story 2: The Shared Patio
Author: Miranda July

The story of the day was “The Shared Patio” by Miranda July. This is after reading her book, “The First Bad Man” which I absolutely loved and whose review you can read here. Miranda July writes with such heart-breaking honesty that there is no way you will stop reading what she serves. Miranda July scrutinizes human life with a wondrous eye for detail and she gives you what she sees. Her characters are weak, fragile and only human with their own set of insecurities and might I add that there are mostly, no happy endings.

“The Shared Patio” is a story told by a woman who falls for her married and epileptic neighbour. She even shares a nap with me as he has having his attack on the shared patio, from where the title comes. See how bizarre this is and yet strangely comforting? This is Miranda July’s way of thinking and most of her stories might seem weird to begin with but they are anything but weird. Of course initially I had a problem relating to the story, but when I did and began to read between the lines and understand the layers, the story was a revelation.

I strongly urge you to read works by Miranda July if you haven’t already. I love what she writes.

You can read the story here: http://www.all-story.com/issues.cgi?action=show_story&story_id=292

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No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories

365 Short Stories – Season 2 – Story 1 – Home to Maryland by F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Day 1: 12th of April 2015
Story 1: Home to Maryland
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Earlier Published as: On Your Own
Taken from the book: Forgotten Fitzgerald: Echoes of a Lost America
Edited and Introduced by Sarah Churchwell

Like most people I was under the impression for the longest time that Fitzgerald’s greatest work was and is “The Great Gatsby”. Off-late I have been rethinking this idea of mine. Not because “The Great Gatsby” isn’t the most beloved classic of all-time but because I think he has written better and I say that after reading his short stories, which are a class apart if you ask me.

The story of Day 1 happened to be a Fitzgerald story, formerly published as “On your Own” in the Esquire on the 30th of January, 1979. This was one of those short stories written by Fitzgerald that was rejected seven times by different magazines and was of course ultimately published after he passed away. I think Fitzgerald was one of those writers who was given enough and more due in his time, till his decline just took him to another place and no one cared about him after.

“Home to Maryland” was read by me today from a collection of Fitzgerald’s forgotten stories titled, “Forgotten Fitzgerald: Echoes of a Lost America” – edited and introduced by Sarah Churchwell. “Home to Maryland” is a tragic and melancholy story of an actress returning to America from London to attend her father’s funeral, which makes her realize a lot of things about herself and the class she was born and raised in. The character of Evelyn was inspired by Fitzgerald himself (almost Meta in today’s world so to say), after his father died in 1931 in Maryland. Fitzgerald took that one emotion and worked this story around it.

“Home to Maryland” is a story of loss, of frustration of not getting anywhere (Evelyn feels that way at several points in the story) and it is about being wanted above it all. Evelyn just wants to feel safe from the world and this she feels can only come from George Ives who is rich and successful. There is satire. There is sadness. There is the trademark Fitzgeraldian (so to say) writing. How the story pans out is for you to read and be amazed by Fitzgerald’s writing prowess.

You can read the story here: http://fitzgerald.narod.ru/taps/077e-own.html

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Forgotten Fitzgerald: Echoes of a Lost America

Simply Sumptuous Sindhi Cooking by Anita Raheja

Simply Sumptuous Sindhi Cooking by Anita Raheja Title: Simply Sumptuous Sindhi Cooking
Author: Anita Raheja
Publisher: 17inchcanvas.com
ASIN: B00US74092
Genre: Cooking
Pages: 210
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I am not much of a cook-book reading person. I always think that what’s there to a cook-book which I cannot get off the Internet and maybe I am also right in thinking that way, most of the time. There are times however you need experience and tips when it comes to cooking any authentic cuisine which the net cannot give you. This is where you need a cookbook and that is also why this review. I am a Sindhi. I love Sindhi food like most Sindhis do. No matter what, I am one-hundred percent sure that a Sindhi would prefer koki and sai-bhaji over any fancy international cuisine. The book I am referring to is, ‘Simply Sumptuous Sindhi Cooking” by Anita Raheja. This is an edition reprint.

Why do I like this book?

The book is divided into relevant sections: Nashto (Breakfast), Rasoi (lunch and dinner), Evening Snacks, Mithai (desserts) and Achars and Sherbets (pickles and cold drinks). It is easy to go through and not a hassle at all. I also think that this is the single-most comprehensive book there is on Sindhi food with tips and tricks and also some background about the dish, what is eaten with what, etc. I think more so because I have grown-up eating these dishes and this cuisine, it just somehow was so close to home that all memories came rushing by.

Teewarn - Mutton in Gravy.

Teewarn – Mutton in Gravy.

For instance, in almost every Sindhi household, Sindhi curry is what Sundays are made of and there is no two-way about what should be cooked on that day. Also the fact that things such as Thadri Jo Khano is so specific and so typical of Sindhis that no one else can cook up what we do. And not to forget the very famous Sindhi mutton.

Dal-Pakwaan

Dal-Pakwaan

For me, “Simply Sumptuous Sindhi Cooking” was a walk down memory lane and reliving everything I hold dear about being who I am. I love the snippets, the proverbs which are typical of any Sindhi household and the recipes which are easy to make and will not take all that time. For all food-lovers out there, you have to own this book and cook-up these traditional Sindhi recipes.

Pictures Courtesy: Vickky Idnaani.

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury Title: Zen in the Art of Writing
Author: Ray Bradbury
Publisher: Joshua Odell Editions
ISBN: 9781877741098
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 176
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Writing is not easy. Writing is not difficult either. It is perhaps the single most surreal experience. I write as well but not as often as I would like to. I keep stalling it. I do not put pen to paper when I should. I think most of the time I am just scared of how it will turn out. I am not confident of my skills and I should not doubt myself anyway but I do. Maybe that is why there are writers out there and then there are some of us who could learn a lesson or two from their lives.

“Zen in the Art of Writing” by Ray Bradbury was one book that I was waiting to read since a very long time. I wanted to but it ended up being just too expensive to pick up, till I finally did at the Flipkart Big Book Sale – BookMarkit at about eighty-four rupees.

What is this book? Why did I want to read it?

Well, for one this book is about writing by the master himself, Ray Bradbury. It is a collection of eleven essays and all centered on the craft and art of writing. Bradbury is one of my favourite writers. I think I have read almost everything that he has written, so there was no way that I was not going to read this one. Reading this book made me see my writer in a different light. It made me appreciate his craft a lot more than I would have done, had I not read this book.

What does Mr. Bradbury do in this book?

He takes on the process of writing. He urges people to go out there and write. He speaks of his experiences with writing and how that helped him become what he is – a celebrated writer. Ray Bradbury talks of how he listed nouns one after the other and they became ideas for his short stories and the very titles of his stories. The core of the book is also about how he came upon ideas for his stories and books and how to become a writer you cannot let go of your imagination and spirit.

There is a lot to take away from this book on writing than there is perhaps in any other book. Ray analyzes writing not as work but love and how that can enrich the creative process. There are lessons on success and failure and how it will not be easy for a writer all the time (although it does seem quite simple in today’s time and age given every second person is a writer). He takes apart the concept of muse, of how the writer should let ideas be and let ideas chase him, of how important it is to write and not have guidelines such as “I will write thousand words a day” and many more that an emerging writer can contemplate and work on.

All said and done, I highly recommend this book not just to writers but for everyone who might want to know how to live life.

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Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity, Expanded