Archive for the ‘Challenges 2010’ Category

 

Book  – Penelopiad – The Myth Of Penelope and Odysseus

Author – Margaret Atwood

Genre – Historical Fiction

Protagonist – Penelope

Summary –

The story of Penelope – as told by herself.
In The Odyssey, Penelope – daughter of King Icarius of Sparta, and the cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy – is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife. Atwood’s dazzling retelling of the old myth is as haunting as it is wise and compassionate, as disturbing as it is entertaining. With incomparable wit and verve, she gives the story of Penelope new life and reality.
Homer’s Odyssey is not the only version of the story. Mythic material was originally oral, and also local-a myth would be told one way in one place and quite differently in another. I have drawn on material other than The Odyssey, especially for the details of Penelope’s parentage, her early life and marriage, and the scandalous rumours circulating about her.
I’ve chosen to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to her twelve hanged maids. The Maids form a chanting and singing Chorus which focuses on two questions that must pose themselves after any close reading of The Odyssey: what led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? The story as told in The Odyssey doesn’t hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. I’ve always been haunted by the hanged maids; and, in The Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself.-from Margaret Atwood’s Introduction to The Penelopiad

Things I liked about the book– After you have read the long summary I am sure you will have really high expectations from this book . I know I did.. To some extent I liked the book , but not for the subject ( will come to that part later) , for it’s beautiful and creative narrative.  Atwood can weave a story just by her wonderful prose and I realized that when I was compelled to complete this book whose subject line I had lost all interest in by the time I was half way through. But I went on just because of her style.

You must be thinking how can I praise the writing and hate the subject ? Read this book and you will get what m trying hard to convey here.

Another good thing  it ends pretty fast. Small book 🙂

Things I disliked about the book :

Just because you  are making Penelope tell her story doesn’t necessarily have to make this a thing sensational news piece  and if you would have wanted to write feministic stuff then you should have tried messing with some other literature. Too preachy , too judgmental and some times , no most of the times ultra feministic. In some other context I would have totally liked a feministic subject. But I don’t like messing with classics. Period.

This is just my view and I am stating it because I am entitled to an opinion. I would definitely read another Atwood book because she is an amazing author. As for recommendations to this one. I am not so sure. May be if you don’t mind twisted tales you will have no problems with it. 🙂

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I never realized dystopian fiction could be this good. For the uninitiated dystopia is a vision, of an often futuristic society, which has developed into a negative version of  Utopia. A Dystopia is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government. It often features different kinds of repressive social control systems, a lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions and a state of constant warfare or violence. So my book today ,fits this category perfectly.

In this book there is an authoritarian form of govt. i.e  Capitol , there is total lack of individual freedom , Katniss can vouch for that and there is struggle to survive . Also to add they love putting teenagers in the arena for those gruesome ‘ fight until death’ matches that are  telecast . Think reality TV. Brutal and vicious reality TV .Ya, they kinda make a sport of killing teenagers with sponsors and all . Dystopia people ,what else did you want , pillow fights ? Can dystopian fiction get better than this ?I am sure it does in adult dystopian . But Hunger Games is  a YA book and this is as brutal as it gets. If you really want a more depressing ( read really , really  depressing ) dystopian/post apocalyptic book, go read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. If you want a gripping , nail biting , tear shedding one read Hunger Games.

I loved Katniss , I loved Peeta and loved the world Suzanne Collins created.  I felt for every single kid put out there for a fight to live.  I cried inconsolably when one of  the characters was killed. I cheered for Katniss when she outwitted the Capitol . And now I am the newly initiated member of Team Katniss. There’s a lot going on for Team Gale and Team Peeta. I have no qualms as to with whom she ends up with but I know I like this book because it’s Katniss who stands out and makes you want to read on.  Though I might add I am angling a lil on Peeta’s side but I will wait till I finish Catching Fire to see what I think about the whole Gale/Peeta issue.

Highly Recommended. Can’t wait to read Catching Fire.

I talked about a Thrity Umrigar book a few days back and today I am back,  to rave about her book  Bombay Time. Some of you might  know why this book is so special to me. I am a Mumbaikar and devour any book which mentions my city and it’s beauty. Umrigar puts my city in the title. How could I resist this book?

This time she chronicles the life of  Parsi families of Wadia Baug.It has multiple story lines where we get to meet a host of characters of various natures who form this seemingly close knit affluent community. Each one has a story hidden somewhere which more or less explains their individual out look towards life.

She uses  marriage as a tool to bring these people together and takes us through their lives and gives us a glimpse into Parsi customs and their lifestyle . Each time a character is depicted ,Mumbai or the then Bombay is shown in the background. The changes the city has gone through having accommodated and adjusted  while bringing about some good and bad changes in the outlook of  its oldest settled communities is done so well that I felt I was watching this happen rather than reading it.

While reading this book , Jimmy Kanga , Coomi Bilimoria , Tehmi , Dosa Popat and most importantly Rusi were not just mere characters on the pages of a book , they each talked and I am sure every person who has read this book felt the same way.  I could call it a set of short stories but then they are all connected . Umrigar ties knot in a way only she can.

The prose was absolutely beautiful.  No two thoughts about that.Any body who enjoys contemporary fiction will love this book. There is a bit of vernacular used but that I thought added to the charm of story telling.I haven’t let out the story to you because the beauty lies in the discovery . You will  enjoy it more if you don’t know before hand what each one of these characters has to tell you.

P.S. – Airport bookstore was the place where I found this one. The last place I thought I would find a book like this. They usually stock mysteries and racy edgy bestsellers. It was their last copy and I am glad I got it. Some books are meant to found by readers who will enjoy them 😉

A poignant , emotional story told in a way that is simply beautiful. Thrity Umrigar ‘s The  Space Between Us was one book at the end of which I was left speechless , not because of any ground shattering discovery or any revealed mystery but for the honesty with which it was told. Two women  bonded by friendship and divided by social standards makes a wonderful story.

Sera , the Parsi woman who lives a life many would envy has a side of her life that is filled with domestic violence and pain she can hardly speak about. Bheema on the other hand , a servant in Sera’s house has always had a life she wished she never lived to see. One filled with poverty and pain.The sharp contrast in their social standing is equaled only by the similarities they share on a  emotional level.Life goes on until Maya , Bheema’s  unmarried granddaughter becomes pregnant shattering Bheema’s hopes and dreams . In trying to solve Maya’s problem , many things get distorted and life will never be the same for them again.

This was my first Thrity Umrigar book and I was mesmerized by the narration. She knows how to make a reader want to read a book and not leave it. There are lots of issues which this book deals with like caste discrimination , domestic violence, poverty, alcoholism , gender  bias .All dealt with tact and sensitivity.

P.S. – I wanted to review this a long time back but due to some reason it never happened, until today when I saw my copy of the book and re read whole of it and also remembered that if I have to get back to blogging let it be with a book I can recommend to all my blogger buddies.

Veens , I told you I was back 😀

I discovered Graphic novels earlier this year and I was sucked in to this wonderful world. I did read a few books in this genre but I am still a novice.I need some recommendations people 🙂

Ana from things mean a lot and Chris from  Stuff As Dreams Are Made On are hosting this challenge .

Sign Up Page – Here

I am signing up for Beginner’s level where I will be reading 3 graphic novels . I might up the level if I achieve what I have already aimed at.

My List:

1 Emma – A Victorian Romance ( I have finished 4 books in this series , I think 4 more are remaining  )

2 Maus

3 Understanding Comics