Dubliners..not a book review

Finally finished reading James Joyce’s Dubliners, a collection of 15 short-stories. I had been reading it for a couple of years. That for me is the problem with short-stories. I take liberties with them. I read one, then abandon the book and come back to it much later. I took less time reading Gone with the Wind!
So I shall not say how much I liked Dubliners. I remember liking a few stories; I immensely liked the last one (“The Dead”).

Book Review- Hunger by Knut Hamsun

Hunger has been on my “to-read” list for a long time. Written in first person, this is a story of an unconventional and eccentric guy who struggles to make ends meet by writing. For the most part of the story he struggles with hunger and strives to find food to sustain. More importantly, I think he strives for acceptance. What I liked the best about the book are the mood swings he undergoes; at times optimistic, mostly depressed, and sometimes even suicidal. They were brilliantly captured. This is a short book (translated by George Egerton) of 176 pages. This is a very well-crafted, emotional and poignant story that grips the reader.

Books to Read in 2015

These are some of the books I would like to read this year. Hope to read more, but reaching last year’s number (32) ain’t a goal.

1. 1984- George Orwell
2. Lolita- Nabokov
3. Doctor Zhivago- Boris Pasternak
4. Foucault’s Pendulum- Umberto Eco
5. Sea- John Banville
6. Eclipse- John Banville
7. If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler- Italo Calvino
8. Our Moon has Blood Clots- Rahul Pandita
9. Hunger- Knut Hamsun
10. Humboldt’s Gift- Saul Bellow
11. Shipping News- Annie Proulx
12. Deal Souls- Nikolai Gogol

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson- Book Review

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson was on my to-be-read list of 2014. So it was a pleasant surprise when I received it as a gift and I started 2015 with it. The plan for this year is to read great works, especially those I have not gotten to read till now. Life after Life is definitely a step in that direction.
Life after Life was an excellent read that keeps you hooked through the 600 odd pages. The theme of getting multiple chances to relive a life is something I found quite appealing. The characters -the main ones- were very likeable and their choices seemed justified. The back-and-forth trips in time did not hinder the narrative and did not seem forced. The writing was beautiful and was laced with wit, humour and an occasional dose of cynicism.

My 32 Books of 2014

1.    Three Chinese Poets –Vikram Seth
2.    Unbearable Lightness of Being- Milan Kundera
3.    Submarine- Joe Dunthorne
4.    Corrections- Jonathan Franzen
5.    Unlucky Lottery- Hakan Nesser
6.    Fever Pitch- Nick Hornby
7.    Gone Girl- Gillian Glynn
8.    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
9.    Love in the Time of Cholera- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
10.    The Quilt: Stories – Ismat Chughtai
11.    Solar- Ian McEwan
12.    Silkworm- Robert Galbraith
13.    Bossypants- Tina Fey
14.    Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?- Mindy Kaling
15.    Lady in the Lake- Raymond Chandler
16.    On Fire with Fergie- Stuart Donald
17.    Broken Harbour- Tana French
18.    Swami and Friends- RK Narayan
19.    Lonesome Traveller- Jack Kerouac
20.    Salvation of a Saint- Keigo Higashino
21.    A Separate Peace- John Knowles
22.    Murder in the Mist- Willard Scott
23.    Short Stories by Nobel Prize Winners
24.    Hotel du lac- Anita Brookner
25.    Tell the Wolves I’m Home- Carol Rifka Brunt
26.    The Water’s Edge- Karin Fossum
27.    Spinning Heart- Donal Ryan
28.    A small place- Jamaica Kincaid
29.     A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian- Marina Lewycka
30.    Hawthorne & Child- Keith Ridgway
31.    Equal Music- Seth
32.     Malice- Keigo Higashino

Random Pre-French Open 2014 Thoughts

Random Pre-French Open Thoughts (in no particular order):

  1. Will this be the year Halep will win a slam? She says clay is her favourite surface. If fit , she could go deep in the tournament.
  2. Maria could do well too, if Serena is not in her path. Plus, her serve should not desert her, as it sometimes does during key matches.
  3. Is Victoria coming to Paris? Her injury seems to be quite serious.
  4. So Aga Radwanska went to Melbourne as one of the contenders and then was blown away by Dominika. Does Aga’s lack of actual weapons hurt her at Slams? After all, there is only so much of counter-punching one can do and expect grand success at slams. Aga is sometimes compared to Hingis. Perhaps, she is not as crafty as the Swiss Miss.
  5. How fit is Serena? Judging from her first match at Rome against Petkovic, she looked good. She was playing with ease an moving very well. A third title at Paris would be welcome.
  6. So is Rafa’s aura on clay finally diminishing? He started strongly against Almagro at Barcelona and then lost the plot; eked out a win against Kei in the Madrid Masters final, where the latter was playing lights-out Djokovic-style tennis and for the most part seemed to be the better player on the day.
  7. Wrist injuries are tough to heal from; it is a slow and painful (ask Potro). So how fit is Novak? Does playing Rome give him enough match practice for the French Open? He can definitely play himself into form at Paris, but needs a benevolent draw at the French capital.
  8. Can Wawrinka do what Roger and Rafa could not? Courier could. Winning the Australian Open and French Open the same year was a great feat the American achieved in 1991 and 1992. This does not exactly have the glitter of a Channel Slam (French Open+Wimbledon) but doing so would assure Wawrinka’s place in history books.
  9. Roger travels to Paris with very less match practice and dark circles under his eyes. The defeat to Chardy did not perturb him much. Roger, in the past, has missed warm-up tournaments and managed to win grand-slam titles. Plus, he is a fine clay-courter. So cannot rule out the happy new dad.
  10. Who are the dark horses? Dimitrov, Gulbis and Nishikori among men and Stosur and Ivanovic in the ladies draw?