Unfinished

Over the past few months, for some reason I have been borrowing books with alarming regularity but have been unable to read through more than half way through the books. Not that they are lacking in substance or are uninteresting, all of them have been awesome reads as far as I got to them, but I think my focus is very much lacking. In the twitter age, I am finding it quite difficult to sit through and finish a 400 page book. It doesn’t help that the West Des Moines Library doesn’t have an online renewal thing and given the weather, I am finding it an ordeal to take my book every once in three weeks to renew and hence am paying a lot of late fees and hence am developing a certain disinterest to borrow in general. Nevertheless, every time I go in to return a long due book, I end up picking out one more and its kind of becoming a disease with me. Anyways, here are some of the books that I did not get to finish but loved how much ever I read of them.

This was a collection of short stories – connected by its characters in a weird disconnected way, like how you meet a lot of people in your day and how it would be if you followed up on all their stories and then they all merged somehow. The author – Daniyal Mueenuddin – was interesting for me as a man of Pakistani-American origin, educated in both countries. The shorts are set in Punjab border in Pakistan around late 20th century I think, that in itself was refreshing, I was looking for a fresh angle to his stories, I was hoping for non-cliche’d situations. I was not disappointed by the narrative style, the shocking new ways he was looking at sexual politics in a huge mirazdar kind of set up. I was very happy with the way he had shaped some of his strong women characters. But I was still let down that to add drama and the sentiment, he needed to use the poor working class and their points of view. That was the cliche’d part. The poor working class for literary grim novels based out of India is kind of becoming the equivalent of “thaali and amma sentiment” for tamil cinema. Its done to death. Enough already.

I haven’t finished even a quarter of this book. I do want to finish it soon, so I am going to do a follow up on this post with a full post. For now, I am overwhelmed. Its amazing how fresh the writing is and how relevant the human mind is at all times. The book was written in 1866 by a Russian. I am shocked at how much I am able to connect with it today.

This is another book that I do want to finish in the future when I have some time to just sit and read a book and enjoy it for its creativity. To just wonder at how beautifully some human winds work and are able to execute and put in words what they think in such a profoundly simple manner that it resonates with so much innocence. The idea to have this mute man trapped in a boy’s body who shows his emotions and his needs by beating his drum and then make him the narrator for a story in Nazi occupied war torn Poland – how do you think of such stuff? You get so much of fresh perspective when you have this narrator. This idea made me draw parallels to the Italian movie “Life Is Beautiful” – which is a movie about an Italian Father who protects his son’s innocence by making himself a joker in a concentration camp. This kind of tragi comedy gives you some of the most profound lessons which you can never experience for yourself. I will definitely finish this book some day.

I just started this book because of its setting – Bangladesh – I wanted to see what it was like through the eyes of this Man Booker Prize Winner. But then I realized I did not have the appetite for a book on child married to an older man who quoted shakespeare and made her do his chores and work like a maid. Maybe it is a really good take and maybe it is very releavnt in current day Bangladesh, but for some reason I am not able to enjoy manipulative text just as I am not able to enjoy manipulative movies that have cues for you to cry and feel sorry for the protagonist. I do not want a pure hearted hero/heroine who comes to the rescue/has to be rescued from circumstances. I want grey shades in everybody, because that is what reality is.