Category Archives: Faber and Faber

Killing and Dying: Six Stories by Adrian Tomine

Killing and Dying - Six Stories by Adrian Tomine Title: Killing and Dying: Six Stories
Author: Adrian Tomine
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 978-0571325146
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 128
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

A good graphic novel always seems to take away the blues. Well, most of the time that is if you aren’t reading one by Adrian Tomine. It will add to your blues. It will make you a bit melancholic and it will also make you never want to read it again. But it will also make you aware. It will make you realize your surroundings and the people in them and perhaps look at the world differently.

Adrian Tomine’s graphic works make you think so much more that it is sometimes unbelievable that graphic novels have that kind of power. “Killing and Dying” his latest offering is just that. It is a collection of six graphic stories. These slice of life stories depict life the way it is without any sugar coating. These stories are something which we have all experienced – ranging in themes from loneliness to body image issues to severe angst.

My favourite story in the entire collection is “Translated” which is about a Japanese mother and her child and their reconnection with the husband and the father. It is tender, funny and groundbreaking in the sense that none of the characters’ faces are shown.

“Killing and Dying” is perhaps one of the best comic books I’ve read this year. It is brief and full of small moments of sadness and joy. It is the kind of graphic book which everyone must read. Tomine does a stellar job of portraying his characters and makes the reader see the view that they would not have otherwise seen it. I would highly recommend this one.

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Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter Title: Grief is the Thing with Feathers
Author: Max Porter
Publisher: Faber & Faber
ISBN: 978-0571323760
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 128
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Grief – A word that we are most afraid of encountering in our lives. A word that has the capacity to change everything and turn life on its head and shake your being to the core. We all experience it, whether we like it or not. We have no choice in this regard. Life does not give us any choices. I guess after happiness, which we also share quite hesitatingly, grief comes close second as an emotion that is not shared. We keep it within and maybe that is when we need to be pushed to let it all out and get over it (so to say) and move on with life.

Everybody passing could comprehend how much I miss her. How physical my missing is. I miss her so much it is a vast golden prince, a concert hall, a thousand trees, a lake, nine thousand buses, a million cars, twenty million birds and more. The whole city is my missing her.

It is just that it kicks you senseless, this grief I mean. It will not let you be as well. I remember how I felt when my father passed away in 2001. Fourteen years seems to be a very long time and it probably is and yet grief is at the core of it all, mixed with regrets and prematurely died promises and hopes that we had as a family. So when I read, “Grief is the Thing with Feathers” I could not stop wondering about our lives in that phase from the time it happened to the time we moved on (did we?) and perhaps that’s why this debut by Max Porter struck such a chord with me.

Loss and pain in the world is unimaginable but I want them to try.

“Grief is a Thing with Feathers” is a book which can be read by everyone and that is what I think every book aims to be – to be read by everyone in the long run, for people to connect with it, for people to not leave it, for people to also wonder why did it end so soon (which happens to be more often than not when I read books such as this one – which is so moving) and of course for people to reread it.

Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows grief is a long-term project. I refuse to rush. The pain is thrust upon us let no man slow or speed or fix.

The book is about the death of a mother and how the husband and two boys come to terms with her death. It is not as easy as it sounds. Life never is and that is the beauty of this book. They need something to help them cope – an external resource and that comes in the form of a giant Crow (fable-like, mythical quality, whatever you may call it, but it helps them live day to day), who transforms their lives inside out and will only leave once the healing is complete.

Grieving is something you’re still doing, and something you don’t need a crow for.

Max Porter’s writing shines on almost every single page. The writing style and composition of the book is varied – part prose, part rhyme and part poetry, it is a meditation on living and dying and the void called grief, thrown right in-between these two. My only grouse with the book was the crow’s voice at times, because I just could not understand that and that voice happened to be most crucial in the book. Well, having said that the story on its own is so strong that you cannot help but turn the pages, one after the other.

The narrative is not straight-forward and that is what sets this book apart from the regular ones written on the subject of death and grieving. There are silences in the book that speak to the reader and make him or her their own. The book is highly emotional but does not at any point become sentimental. The three voices in the book are so unique and distinct that even in less than one hundred and fifty pages you start developing fondness for all the characters, including the crow. The dark humour, the moving on pieces right in the end and the way life just comes full circle, whether we want it to or not is beautifully portrayed in these pages. It is a wild and at the same time a tender exploration of grief and above all most reassuring that the void does get filled at some point.

“Grief is a Thing with Feathers” is a sparkling debut which comes to be only once in a while. So I highly recommend that you go out there, pick up this book, read it and while you are reading, let not anyone interrupt the marvelous experience.

Here’s Max Porter reading from the book:

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Grief is the Thing with Feathers

Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole

Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole Title: Every Day is for the Thief
Author: Teju Cole
Publisher: Faber and Faber, Penguin UK
ISBN: 978-0571307920
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 176
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Teju Cole burst on the scene with “Open City” a couple of years ago. A unique voice is needed all the time, to wake the literary circle, so to say. “Open City” had a deep impact on the sensibilities and emotions as well. There was something unique about it and at the same time, it was quite ordinary. That is the charm of Teju Cole’s writing. He makes the mundane come alive.

“Every Day for the Thief” is a sort of a literary memoir. It is not a memoir and yet sometimes feels like one. A young Nigerian goes home to Lagos, after living away from it, in New York for close to fifteen years. The unnamed narrator moves from the places in the city – recalling what he left behind and trying to make sense of everything in new light.

He witnesses his old friends, the former girlfriend, the exuberance and despair of Lagos and of an eleven-year old who is accused of stealing in the local market. A lot of such incidents shape the novel for the reader. The atmosphere is built slowly, almost creating an element of suspense and yet saying what the narrator has to.

There are patchy parts in the book as well, but I chose to ignore them, because the writing is stupendous. It flows effortlessly most of the time and the voice is strong, so that is more than enough for the reader.

What also sets this book apart, are the author’s photos that are interwoven in the story. The way he captures Lagos – both pictorially and through the written word is superlative. “Every Day is for the Thief” is a short read and manages to stay with you for a very long time. This is one book you should not miss reading out this year.

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2000 Books You Must Read: 5. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro There are some books that get hidden. That are clouded and perhaps you do not hear many people speak of them. The Remains of the Day is one book that does not get spoken about as much as its movie counterpart. It is Ishiguro’s third published work and it is a delicately told tale from the point of view of Stevens – the English butler, told in his diary, as he works for Lord Darlington and his relationship with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton.

The book goes back and forth – past and present to give the reader the complete view. A lot of social conventions, graces, manners, are spoken of and also the hypocrisy surrounding all of them. The writing is simply beautiful and very elegant, despite bringing to fore the ugliness sometimes.

The Remains of the Day is one of my favourite books and I strongly recommend it.

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Book Review: Who Will Run The Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital by Lorrie Moore Title: Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
Author: Lorrie Moore
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 9780571268559
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 148
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

So I read The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger, a cure for adolescence as per The Novel Cure. There was another book waiting for me to be devoured – for the same ailment and that was also recommended by them. It is, “Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?” by Lorrie Moore. Let me tell you one thing here: If you think that Salinger had all answers to angst and adolescence, then you must read this small gem by Lorrie Moore, to really get into the skin of what it is to be young and the memory of it as it surfaces after a period of time.

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital is a bittersweet tale about growing up. It is not written in the linear format and that is one of the things, which I loved about the book. It does not sentimentalize teenage or adulthood. Moore has this uncanny ability to show things for what they are. If the characters are hurt, then the reader must feel it. If they are happy, the readers must rejoice in their moments. I also firmly believe after reading this book, that every reader who wants to read a book on teenage must start with this one.

The book is about two friends – living in small-town America, in a place called Horsehearts – somewhere on the border between Canada and the US. The friends are Berie and Sil and the story is narrated by Berie. The story moves between Paris, where Berie is with her husband and going through a tough time in her relationship, to the time she was fifteen and life changed drastically for her and her best-friend Sil. The book shifts narratives and that is what keeps the reader going. The themes of adolescence and the angst with it are touched on brilliantly.

“Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?” is sensitive and yet restrained. Moore does a fascinating job of describing the ordinary with details and grace that are nowhere close to being ordinary. Growing-up and in contrast adulthood are dealt with delicately, without overstepping on any one aspect. The characters shine through the entire book. There is not a single line or situation which should not have been a part of the book. Thank God, I got to know of this book through The Novel Cure and read it as a part of the challenge. A read for everyone who wants to read more about adolescence and be cured.

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