Tag Archives: satire

Fox 8 by George Saunders. Illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal

Fox 8 by George Saunders Title: Fox 8
Author: George Saunders
Illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 978-1526606488
Genre: Satire, Fiction, Fable for Adults
Pages: 64
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 stars

There are some books that just nestle into your heart and stay there. For me, those have been the likes of An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami, The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Capote, and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. You get the drift, don’t you? These are the kind of books that can be read to soothe me, when I am feeling down. I am certain we all have these kind of books – the ones that make everything alright, just by opening them and reading – over and over again. Fox 8 by George Saunders is the latest addition to my ever-growing list of “heartwarming” books. (I hate the use of the word heartwarming, my apologies).

I love Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo though is my least favourite book written by him, though it won the Man Booker Prize and all that). His short fiction is par excellence, his essays even better in my opinion, and basically whatever he writes is pure gold. Fox 8 is no less of a book because of its size. If anything, after you are done reading it, you tend to agree that it had to end, where it did, even if you wanted more of it.

Fox 8 - Image 1

Read more: In Appreciation of George Saunders

This 64-page novella/novelette is about a fox – the name is Fox 8 who is curious about humans (poor sad fox. I for one can’t stand most humans) and also learns some of the English language, by watching parents read to their children (I love how the fox also debunks fairy tales for us with reference to the role of the fox in them). Saunders is in his full form with inventiveness of language – writing (phonetically) the way a fox would – yooman and not human, bare and not bear, and the list goes on. At first, you wonder about the writing style and when you give in, you are in love with this fantastical tale of two foxes visiting a mall (that has been built razing most of their forest) and what happens next.

Fox 8 - Image 2Read more: George Saunders’s 10 Favourite Books

Before I forget, kudos and more to Chelsea Cardinal for the illustrations that go so well with the story. The illustrations are all black and white, except the foxes – they are in orange and stunning would perhaps be a lesser adjective to use. Saunders’ story is telling of our times – of the way we inhabit spaces and make of them to how endangered our wild life really is – and all of this is said with the eccentric and almost witty (in this one at least), true blue Saunders style.

Fox 8 is heartwarming, also heart-wrenching, makes you look at the world we have made and why and question almost every decision – which I think we must. At the same time, it makes a spot in your heart and will not go away. I am very happy that it was the first read of the year for me. Read it. It is truly beautifully done.

You can buy Fox 8 by George Saunders here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adulthood is a Myth: A “Sarah Scribbles” Collection by Sarah Andersen

Adulthood is a Myth - A Sarah Scribbes Collection by Sarah Andersen Title: Adulthood is a Myth: A “Sarah Scribbles” Collection
Author: Sarah Andersen
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN:978-1449474195
Genre: Comic Strips
Pages: 112
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

I am old. Not that old. But I am old enough. I am in my early 30s and I am still waiting for the day when I become an adult. Mostly because I believe, mostly because I know that the decisions I make are not “adult-like”. I have been told that several times and I am aware. I don’t need to be told. I don’t need to be nagged by almost everyone around me. It isn’t fair. And yet life is not that bad either. Life is passing by and everything else with it. These are the times when you need someone like Sarah Andersen to tell you that life is okay, you are okay the way you are, and even if it isn’t okay, then it is alright.

Adulthood is a Myth - A Sarah Scribbes Collection by Sarah Andersen Image 1

“Adulthood is a Myth” is a collection of Sarah Andersen’s rad comic strips – which are funny mostly, depicts the times we live in – the dating scene, the lonely ones, technology and everything else rolled in between. Above all, it speaks of how okay it is to not grow-up in a world where everyone just wants to prove something or the other.

Adulthood is a Myth - A Sarah Scribbes Collection by Sarah Andersen Image 2

This book is perfect for everyone and hence makes a great gift! It will resonate with almost everyone who has had a tough patch or the other or for who even waking up on a Monday morning to get to work is tough. The situations are from life, the embarrassments are real, and the annoyances of life are just too vivid and we have all been there, done that.

Adulthood is a Myth - A Sarah Scribbes Collection by Sarah Andersen Image 3

The book makes you feel that you aren’t the only one who feels and thinks that way. There are perhaps millions of people who feel the same but never communicate it, till Sarah has. Read her comics online and most certainly pick up this book!

Karachi You’re Killing Me by Saba Imtiaz

Karachi You're Killing Me by Saba Imtiaz Title: Karachi You’re Killing Me
Author: Saba Imtiaz
Publisher: Random House India
ISBN: 9788184004601
Genre: Literary Fiction, Satire, Humour
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

There are very few satirical writers left in the world, I think. Or maybe I have not heard enough of them. So when I stumble on something interesting – satirical, with a good plot and hilarious at the same time, I know that I have struck gold. For a reader, nothing is more gratifying than reading something which fulfils and satisfies at the same time. “Karachi, You’re Killing Me” is one of those books. You immediately take a liking to it and that is that.

Saba Imtiaz’s first book, “Karachi You’re Killing Me” is a romp of a read and when I say romp – I mean it in the sense of it being fast-paced, funny, tongue-in-cheek and describing the extremes of Pakistan – from the elite to the not-so elite to the middle class that hangs in the balance.

Books about Pakistan always leave me wanting to know more about the country. It is almost like the need to know how the brother country has shaped and what lies ahead of them: Is it as different? Is it that similar? As I reader, I am left clamouring for more.

At the heart of the novel is, Ayesha Khan, a single, female reporter in Karachi, who despises the elite and has no choice but to cover them for her pieces as well. Her assignments range from covering a bomb site to interviewing her boss’s niece, who is a cup-cake designer. Besides this, she has her own problems to take care of.

Imtiaz, very cleverly brings to her readers: Karachi: In all its splendour and sometimes not so. She speaks of the underbelly of Karachi and what it takes sometimes to survive in a city like this. Ayesha is almost caught between two worlds and yet is sorted in her head. She is the kind of character that takes her chances and does it without thinking twice.

The writing also is like this – almost semi-autobiographical in nature. It is most certainly not apologetic and Imtiaz says what she has to without making any bones about it. Saba Imtiaz, according to me, is one of the most promising writers to have come out of Pakistan in recent times and I for one cannot wait to read her next book.

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Book Review: Penguin Island by Anatole France

Title: Penguin Island
Author: Anatole France
Publisher: Enlighten Publishing
ISBN: 978-8192378206
Genre: Fiction, Satire
Pages: 234
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Penguin Island by Anatole France is a strange book so to say or that’s what I thought when I first started reading it. It is probably nothing like I have ever read before and maybe that is why I did not have a reference point to compare it with, which in a way was the best way to read this book.

So let me straight get to the plot: A monk discovers a previously unknown island. He is half-deaf and half-blind because of age. He cannot see the people clearly (or so he assumes them to be people). He wants to create a world out of this island and ends up performing a mass baptism, only to realize later that the baptism has been carried out on Penguins.

What begins is the creation of Penguin Island. They start living as humans. They develop laws, communities, dress, and ways to cohabit and procreate. They create their saints and their demons. It is almost like The History of Penguins being written by accident. The book for sure is funny, but at the root of it, it is sarcastic, satirical and mocks the times we live in. What happens at the end is quite unusual and will literally leave the reader surprised. That is the crux of the book, which I found most appealing.

The book moves through just about everything on Penguin Island – vices, scams, false accusations, politics, the usual goings-on of the so-called society. Anatole writes with a rhythm that does not leave any societal construct unmasked.
The satire bites where it is supposed to. The writing is blunt and not sugar-coated.

I only wish I knew a little more about world politics, more so Europe as this book indirectly addresses those issues. It is surprising how a book written in almost 1900’s can still be so relevant today. May be the world hasn’t moved on as fast as we have thought it to be.

I liked the writing. I liked the book. I wish that there was more meat at times, connecting the world of Penguins to the incidents that have taken place in ours, just for the overall perspective. Barring that I enjoyed reading this one. It made me think and at the same time it made me laugh out loud in most places. A great read that I will recommend but only if your sensibilities are driven in that direction.

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Book Review: The Ask by Sam Lipsyte


Title:
The Ask
Author: Sam Lipsyte
Publisher: Picador USA
ISBN: 9780312680633
PP: 304 Pages
Source: Publisher
Price: $15.00
Rating: 5/5

The Ask is a weird novel to find yourself really enjoying–it’s like getting punched in the face and laughing about it. It’s hilarious and dead serious at the same time; on one page you laugh out loud, only to be soberly put in your place on the next by the pitiless resentment and biting cynicism that plagues Milo, Lipsyte’s hapless protagonist, who gets fired from his job at the development office of a Manhattan university after mouthing off to an overly entitled student. Then there’s all the other failure in Milo’s life–the failure to be a successful painter, son, husband, and father–and the added burden when his college friend Purdy (the picture of wealth and success) comes out of the past with a particularly awkward proposition for him.

An early review at the Quarterly Conversation has called The Ask “another unrelenting tour de force of black bile…there is no cushy fictional distance between the world [Lipsyte:] describes and the world he inhabits.” But even though The Ask ends on the most unnerving note possible–and regardless of whether or not you’re repelled by Milo’s view that “stories were like people…we pretended they all counted, but almost none of them did,” you at least realize (as Milo does) the guilt-inducing fact that there are always people worse off than you, that no matter how low you think you’ve gone, there are things to feel lucky for. “Everybody wanted to get home,” Milo reminisces after he hits rock bottom at his childhood home in New Jersey, where his lesbian mother lives with her longtime lover. “Home could be a ruined place, joyless, heaped with the ashes of scorched hearts, but come evening everybody hustled to get there.” A concrete sense of home is what Milo apparently seeks the most, but ultimately he wants a life free of illusions about what “home” really means.

What really won me over in The Ask was not only the razor-sharp writing–phrases like “sexagenarian whippersnappers” and “greeting card ontology” are abundant–but Lipsyte’s equally razor-sharp observations about the absurd truths of American life: of the spoiled, uber-connected kids at the university (“they were happy, or seemed happy, or maybe they were blogging about how they seemed happy”); the purgatorial middle class existence he is destined never to leave (“We still did not own the devices that let you skip the commercials. Would we always be part of the slow television movement?”); the satirical, misguided manifestos of child daycare centers; and the sobering realities embodied by war veterans. The Ask avoids tempering the bitterness that comes with all this; instead, it stews in it, even embraces it. It’s sort of exhilarating to finish the book seeing Milo “digging in for the long night of here.”If he gains anything, it will be peace…maybe