Tag Archives: stories

Daydreams of Angels: Stories by Heather O’Neill

Daydreams of Angels by Heather O'Neill Title: Daydreams of Angels: Stories Author: Heather O’Neill
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 978-0374280420
Genre: Short Stories, Literary
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Stories, stories and more stories is what should also majorly be a part of life. What else is there to life but that? “Daydreams of Angels” was my seventh read this year and as the other reads, this one also did not disappoint. Keeping my tradition of fairy tales and the surreal and sublime, this one followed close on the heels of “A Wild Swan and other tales”.

This is a weird bunch of short stories – of angels, monsters, of animals and children – just that they aren’t set in the age old world but in the world where we live and are a part of us all. The stories are brilliantly thought of and written. I remember talking about “Sting like a bee” which was extremely surreal and hit the spot.

Most stories are just like that – they manage to engulf you and take you to another world. The other thing that I felt or did not feel was that these stories were too childish or whimsical for me as an adult. In fact, most of them make a lot of pertinent points under the layers of being just stories. O’Neill’s strength is in her declarative sentences – she just announces what is happening and is not afraid of showing all her cards to the readers. To a very large extent, this kind of writing always works with me.

There is a story of Pooh Bear writing an apology letter to Piglet, who has been kidnapped. Then there is the tale of Violet who escapes her stepfather who lusts after her in “The Saddest Chorus Girl in the World” and she also thinks it is sad when you fall in love with someone. This is so much like Great Expectations minus the stepfather.

Some of the metaphors and images in this book are completely heartbreaking. As a reader, I could not get more of them and just wanted to re-read some of the stories. In my opinion, if a book manages to do that, then the author has just hit the nail on the head with her narrative and style.

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Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig

Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig Title: Second Star to the Right
Author: Deborah Hautzig
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN: 9780141305806
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 176
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I am back to my reading project of ‘The Novel Cure’ and this time since I finished D, I began with E – the first ailment being “Eating Disorders” and the first cure was “Second Star to the Right” by Deborah Hautzig. I didn’t realize the book was a young adult novel till I started reading it and since I love Young Adult Novels, I was completely bowled over.

Leslie Heller is a bright, attractive and a regular teenager who lives a life of privilege in New York City. Her life takes a drastic turn when she begins to diet in her quest for happiness and that becomes an obsession with her, to the point of death by starvation. She and her family struggle with it and at the same time Leslie also has to battle with her past and her Jewish roots.

The book deals with the emotional and mental trauma that an anorexia nervosa patient goes through. It is autobiographical and therefore the writing becomes so strong and emotional. Leslie as seen through Deborah (because she is based on her) is raw, intense and confused. The writing is heart-breaking as you see Leslie and her family coping with anorexia and coming to terms with what can be done to cure it.

“Second Star to the Right” puts a lot of things in perspective for teenagers, mainly about the issues of fitting-in and acceptance and what it takes in our world to be what you want to be. I think I will for one gift this book to every teenager I know to make him or her understand that life is not always about being accepted. It is about being who you want to be.

Next Up on the Novel Cure Reading Project:

Ailment: Egg on Your Tie
Cure: Restoration by Rose Tremain

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387 Short Stories : 17th of March 2014 to the 24th of March 2014

Here is a quick look at the short stories read in a week:

Day 98: Story 98: 17th of March 2014: The Diary of a Goose Girl by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Day 99: Story 99: 18th of March 2014: The Dream by Ivan Turgenev
Day 100: Story 100: 19th of March 2014: What Sami Sings with the Birds by Johanna Sypri
Day 101: Story 101: 20th of March 2014: Returning Home by Anthony Trollope
Day 102: Story 102: 21st of March 2014: Ginger and Pickles by Beatrix Potter
Day 103: Story 103: 22nd of March 2014: A Short History of Hairdressing by Julian Barnes
Day 104: Story 104: 23rd of March 2014: The Skating Party by Marina Warner
Day 105: Story 105: 24th of March 2014: The Toys of Peace by Saki

Here’s to more stories. Always.

387 Short Stories: Day 16: Story 16: The Star by Alasdair Gray

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Title: The Star
Author: Alasdair Gray
Taken from the collection: Unlikely Stories, Mostly

Alasdair Gray. A name not known to me till I read his short story today. It always feels nice to explore a new writer and his stories. “The Star” by was today’s story. It is a bittersweet story of what happens when a boy finds a star in his backyard – how is he fascinated by it and what is the outcome when he goes to school with it.

The story is simply written. It has a fable like quality to it. It makes you believe in stars all over again and the power that they possess. I most certainly think that I will read more by this author. I love reading authors who keep it simple and tell it directly.

Book Review: Nothing to Declare: Stories by Rabi Thapa

Title: Nothing to Declare: Stories
Author: Rabi Thapa
Publisher: Penguin India
ISBN: 978-0-143-41543-5
Genre: Short Stories, Fiction
PP: 172 pages
Price: Rs.199
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Nepal has had special memories for me. I practically spent every summer there since I was ten with my cousins and the entire extended family and loved it. There was nothing more special than watching rented movies (No DVD age and thank god for that!) and munching on home-cooked popcorn with mugs of hot chocolate and the anticipation of waking the next morning and visiting Pokhra or Bakthapur. We also spent freezing winters there, away from the sweltering heat of Bombay, till the time that Nepal became almost a second-home to us. My aunt is Nepalese and hence we visited Nepal a lot. This review in the sense of the word is dedicated to the country which I in all likelihood never visit again.

Nothing to Declare is a great book though. It consists of 16 short stories and each one – you guessed it right! – is set in Kathmandu or parts of the capital. When an entire book is centred around a city/country, it kind of makes the reader wonder a little about the places and can get a little confusing, however over a period of time while reading it, the reader gets used to the style and involved in the book. That is what happened to me with this one. I love short stories, however the more different one is from the other, the better. Nothing to Declare is one of those books that make you wonder after you are done reading it. Rabi Thapa’s stories are descriptive, bold and try to break the mould of what Nepal stands for – conservative, conscious and ever-judgemental society.

For instance, the title story deals with Bikram, who wants to leave the city and imigrate to London. Then there is the tale of Young foreign returned Nepalis in “Night Out in Kathmandu” and how they deal with the experience of return. They eat, sleep, share tales with the ones’ who did not leave, who did not get the opportunity to leave. The stories provide an insight to the country and what it is also going through currently – for instance, in “Home for Dashain” – the Maobadis think they can make decisions on behalf of the people, which they do and it doesn’t end too well.

At the end of it all, the book resonates in your head. The voices are lined with individuality and want to be heard. Rabi Thapa introduces you to the country like no other writer. For me it was a journey back in time. I identified the places, racked my head and heart for memories and found them all.