Tag Archives: angst

The Gods Lie. by Kaori Ozaki

Title: The Gods Lie.
Author: Kaori Ozaki
Publisher: Vertical Comics
ISBN: 978-1942993360
Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Pages: 216
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

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This was the first book read this month and it has stuck and how. I never thought a Manga could leave me all emotional and almost in tears, but this one did and in the most wondrous way. “The Gods Lie” is about everything I think, as you are growing-up, it is also more than just a coming of age tale and yet the innocence and charm of the book isn’t gone at all, no matter how dire the circumstances. There is always some hope and light at the end of the tunnel and maybe that is why I could connect with this read.

Natsuru Nanao is a 6th grader who lives with his mom, loves soccer and isn’t what you’d call the popular kid in school or maybe he is. Enter Rio Suzumura and the both of them have an unlikely friendship, given how different they are. The soccer coach changes and Natsuru hates the new coach (there are several instances) and decides to not to go soccer camp. In all of this, he ends up staying over at Rio’s house with her kid brother. He does find it strange to see these two children living alone but then secrets start tumbling out of the closet – including a dark one which will test his love for Rio.

That in short is the plot of the book. It is a coming-of-age story for sure but there is so much more to it – the harsh realities of modern life, how one just hangs on to hope no matter what, and of course the bittersweetness of first love. It is a short-read. There is not much dialogue but I think when you are dealing this strongly with emotions, the need for dialogues doesn’t really arise. At the same time, you are vested in the story of Natsuru and Rio, that you just want it all to be fine for them. That to me is the power of a great book. When it engages you to this extent. I can’t recommend this book enough. Do read it.

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Hedon by Priyanka

Hedon by Priyanka Title: Hedon
Author: Priyanka
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 978-0143425953
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 312
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Hedon is a story of two people – Tara Mullick and Jay Dhillon. What’s new about it, you might ask? Well the difference is in the plot, in the brilliant nuances of the book as you turn pages effortlessly and they exist on almost every page. Hedon is the kind of book (and I say every word when I mean it) that will not let you go till you are done with it. To think it is a debut, I couldn’t believe it was one.

The book is not just about two people and their lives and how they meet on and off and what eventually happens to them. It is also about the other characters – Tara’s friends, her family, her relationship when she is at school in the US of A, Jay’s relationships and what he feels or thinks and more than anything else it is about their connection and how it plays out for them across time and distance.

Tara and Jay meet for the first time at a wedding and life isn’t the same for either of after that. Not because they met, but because of how their friendship blossoms and then the realization of love that makes you feel that void and the hurt that comes in its wake. We see life as narrated by Tara – from her Calcutta days to the time she moves to the US of A for her further studies and the back and forth that takes place – through deaths, fights, and passionate love that can only lead to the inevitable conclusion.

I think more than anything else it is the way these characters’ lives intermingle that kept me hooked. Also let me tell you at this point that Tara is but just seventeen and Jay of course is a little older – he is twenty-five. This isn’t about age as much as it is about their lives and how they come face to face again after seven years from when they first met.

The story then moves along – across time periods and hence the cultural references make so much sense and are so needed for a book of this nature. Not only that; even the secondary characters have unique voices – from Cookie and Button (Tara’s best friends – it is very intriguing to see how those relationships play out as Tara leaves the country and visits once a while – I thought even that was empathetically handled as well) to their parents and siblings views that appear once a while and the rest of the time they are in the background – maybe content being there. Also might I add the school these girls go to – that also forms a major part of the book and lends to the time from being a girl to transforming to a woman, as cliché as it might sound. It isn’t just a love story – there is more that lends itself to the story – a lot more actually – it is about the rites of passage, of growing-up, the angst that comes with it and also it is about the realization what really matters when it comes down to it – from the choices we make to what we live by as a consequence of those choices.

“Hedon” is a book that encompasses voices of times infused with waywardness, the need to belong one way or the other and most importantly of people who want to make a dent – as they go through life, love and everything in-between. To pin point and say that it is only a love story or only a slice of life story, wouldn’t do it justice. It is more than that and one can only realize that after reading it cover to cover. Hedon is a lot of randomness and somehow you see it all tying up at the end or in between, but it does come together and that is something that plays itself out beautifully.

Priyanka’s writing is razor-sharp. It is biting, juicy and makes you visualize everything that is written. She captures everything to the last detail – the food eaten at a friend’s house to how the shamiana was – sort of a festival where boys and girls from various schools participate in and gather. The minute details of youth are encapsulated to a point of evoking those bittersweet feelings in you and bring them to fore.

How else then can you define or classify great writing if not this way? There is more than one way to describe it and I shall try. It is something which you perhaps have never read before. Sure you must have read something similar, but not anything like it.

There is also the element of various pop culture references that make you fall in love with the book and relate to it at that time over and over again. Might I also add, the ending is nothing like what you might expect from a regular novel, because this isn’t a regular novel to begin with.

The language of the book is easy to read and so intense that it feels like someone punched you in the stomach and you are recovering from it. The prose is laced with irony and humour in good measure, coupled with the melancholy and the pains of realizing who you really are and what or who can you call home.

The book releases on the 26th of April 2016.

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki Title: Skim
Words by: Mariko Tamaki
Pictures by: Jillian Tamaki
Publisher: Groundwood Books
ISBN: 9780888997531
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 143
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

I had heard a lot about “Skim” before purchasing it. It is all about teenage angst, but I also think it is meant for everyone who wants to find a place of their own in this world and also about what path you want to choose, when there are so many in front of you.

“Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron – who isn’t slim, is also a Wiccan Goth (well she does want to be it) and goes to a private girls’ school, where keeping up and meanness is in vogue. It all begins with Katie Matthews’ boyfriend dumps her and then kills himself. This starts a chain reaction of events at school forcing Skim to think about things she doesn’t want to and also in the process she falls in love and doesn’t know what to do anymore.

“Skim” as a book works on so many levels – adolescence, crushes, love – gay or not, forming cliques and what happens when you’re not a part of them, first love, and more than anything else – a way to find yourself is explored beautifully in this slim graphic novel.

It is the kind of book that can and should be given to every teenager as a rite of passage so it can help them come into their own. It is a book about being young and more than anything else it is about actualization to some extent. Please do not judge it by the cover. The illustrations are beyond words beautiful and it is all in black and white, which makes it even more special.

I am glad I read this book this year and more importantly this month. February as cliché as it may sound is about love (well all months are) and one must read some books all about love – twisted or not.

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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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Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780241950425
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 192
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I think some books just remain, no matter when you read them. It doesn’t matter. They are beyond time perhaps. For me, The Catcher in the Rye is one such book. I have heard a lot of people say a lot of things, about it, however to me it still remains special. Why, you ask? Maybe because I read it at sixteen. Maybe because I read it when I was away from my family – the plot had some perspective I think. I didn’t want to be Holden, but certainly thoughts drifted in the manner he thought. J.D. Salinger knew what he was doing I think while writing this novel. What he didn’t know was the reaction or strings of actions would be created by this book.

Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon and had The Catcher in the Rye in his hand. John Hinckley Jr. attempted an assassination on Ronald Reagan in 1981 and one of the books owned by him was the one written by Salinger. There are several movie and television references to the novel as well. What is it about this book that evokes such reactions? Why? To my sixteen-year old mind, unwell and in bed, it was just another novel lent to me by my uncle and I had to read it. I read it. I loved it and that was it.

The Catcher in the Rye is not just another novel then. It is the voice of several generations of teenagers in the sense of the world. It is the world of angst and no sense of direction. Or maybe it is the voice of intellectualizing everything or trivializing it all. Holden Caulfield is more than an icon. He is someone who is trying to make sense of his life and life around him. It might appear to be as simple as this, when it is not or may be it is. He encounters people – different people as he takes off from his fancy school Pencey Prep and takes on his journey in New York City. This is where it all begins or almost.

The book was banned in most schools in the US of A. It is because of its vulgar language, which honestly I did not have a problem with then or now. To me the writing is just surreal, even after rereading it after fourteen years. It just manages to evoke the same sentiments in me and that is why I call it timeless. It talks about adolescence and its struggle like no other book. The Catcher in the Rye in that sense of the word is truly a classic and will be for years to come. I am glad I reread it. Thanks to my The Novel Cure Reading Challenge. It is guaranteed to cure angst of adolescence.

Next Up in the Challenge: Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore

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