Ongoingness : The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso

Ongoingness - The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso Title: Ongoingness: The End of a Diary
Author: Sarah Manguso
Publisher: Graywolf Press
ISBN: 978-1555977030
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 104
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

What is “Ongoingness”? What does it mean and how does it come to be defined? Is it even a word like that? Is it okay for anyone to invent something like that? And does it also then mean that it is all okay and to just experience moments as they come by? “Ongoingness” by Sarah Manguso is a diary – it is however, not your usual run-of-the-mill diary either. Come to think of it, it is not like something I have read in a very long time and trust Ms. Manguso to come up with something so uniquely different and contemplative.

Of course you can finish this book in one sitting and that is the idea. However, I also had to pause in most places and keep contemplating about life. The book is about Sarah’s life as a mother and how memory and loss of it played a major role for some time then. This diary is just a series of fragments on time, memory, the nature of the self and how one connects with the internal and the external world.

The memoir is barely only about 100 pages long and yet there is so much you will see in this book which perhaps no other book will be able to communicate or show. Manguso has dealt with the passage of time beautifully from the time when she was not a mother to the time she became one and how things changed drastically.

“Ongoinginess” is beautiful and terrifying at the same time. It is about relationships and life and yet Manguso has a different perspective and outlook in everything. It is a poetic meditation on our need to remember and capture life through words, images and sounds.

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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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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

Journey by Aaron Becker

Journey by Aaron Becker Title: Journey
Author: Aaron Becker
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0763660536
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Books
Pages: 40
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Journey - Image 4

A picture says a thousand words and this proverb couldn’t be truer for “Journey” by Aaron Becker. “Journey” is an experience which you will not forget that easily or that soon. It is almost like a dedication to all picture books, according to me. It is creative. It is fantastical. It is also quite interesting with images appearing out of nowhere in the second and third reading of the book, which you thought were never there. I guess that is also one of the things that picture books to do you. They make you see clearly and just for that you should read more of them.

Journey - Image 1

“Journey” is all about a girl. A girl, who is bored, more bored and bored than ever. Her parents do not seem to have time for her. She decides to go on and find worlds which are just an arm’s length away. She draws a door and that is the beginning of the journey for her. The hidden door is the key to everything and from thereon she discovers worlds silently – because that’s what this is – a wordless picture book. She meets people. She sees new things. Her fantasy has just come alive and she is no longer bored, more bored and bored than ever. She comes across a hot-air balloon, a weird bird, a relentless villain and someone else who will be willing to share an adventure with her, which is the plot of the second book in the series called “Quest”.

Journey - Image 2

If I am not mistaken this is the first part of a trilogy and I am now even more excited to read the second and third parts. The illustrations are magnificent and truly belong to another realm. Mr. Becker is not afraid of coming up with the unbelievable and indulging himself a little bit more. It is a great reader for young readers who have not started reading yet but they can for sure imagine. I love books such as these that allow everyone to imagine and live a little more.

Journey - Image 3

The book is stunning. It is packed with so many details that you will be gob smacked by the end of it. There are new worlds and newer ones to come in the other two. Becker does not hesitate and for a debut “Journey” is quite remarkable. It is a book that you should not even think twice before buying. A real treasure of a picture book.

You can know more about Aaron Becker by going to his site here: http://www.storybreathing.com/

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The River by Alessandro Sanna

The River by Alessandro Sanna Title: The River
Author: Alessandro Sanna
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
ISBN: 9781592701490
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 110
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

The River by Alessandro Sanna - Image 1

Another beautiful book read this month is “The River” by Alesanndro Sanna. It is so beautiful that maybe my review will also fall short in describing its beauty and grace. There are so many books out there I am sure that these adjectives might fit but for me this month till now at least it has been about “The River”.

The River by Alessandro Sanna - Image 2

Why do I like this book?

“The River” is all about seasons. The book starts in autumn and ends in summer and is beautifully depicted only through water-color paintings by the artist. There are words at the beginning of every chapter – but very few, giving you just the gist of what will come to be in the chapter. But you must pick up this book for the illustrations. They will leave you with a light heart and make you want to draw and paint and create something.

The River by Alessandro Sanna - Image 3

Alessandro Sanna draws subtle and yet meaningful connections between the geography, the landscape and the one thing that joins them all – The River. It is the kind of book that will get over very soon, but you would want to go back and start from the beginning. It is that good and beautiful.

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