Books I read – Nov 2011

The saga of Pulitzer has been rudely terminated by the steady deterioration of opinion. The Stone Diaries was ok, but it went downhill from then on with A Thousand Acres making me want to gouge someone’s eyes out.    I decided to play it safe and chose Geraldine Brook’s  “March” whose blurb was very attractive to me.  “March” was apparently the parallel of “The Little Women” by Lousa May Alcott that I had for English non-detail in class VI. I had loved the characterization, plot and narration (in all the innocence of a VIth grader)  and assumed that the 2006 Pulitzer winning parallel must be just as endearing.

I give up.

I did not go beyond 10% of the book in my kindle.  The narrative, I am sure, was wonderful to connoisseurs, but to me, it was too tedious and (gasp!) boring and even the first 10% indicated possibility of total doom and despair to follow.

I give up on Pulitzer; at least for the next month or so.  I have had enough gloom for a year.

——–

The line between confidence and arrogance is thin.  But it is exists, nevertheless.  Confidence stands alone in the conception of worth.  Arrogance requires standing on the head of (real or perceived) inferiors.  I found “The Battle hymn of the tiger mother” sway dangerously into arrogance rather than confidence.  Parenting is as diverse as parents, and no single style can be the best.  The author’s “Chinese parenting” method may be good by itself, but the endless, overemphasised tirade against Western parenting is tiresome, to say the least and invokes instant defensiveness.   I suspect the book became popular not because of its worth but because of the primal sensationalism it caused.

On a personal level, the book left me very confused.  What is success?  Personal excellence or secondary adulation?  What does the tiger mother want for her child?  Both?  Neither?  At the expense of what?  She claims she does not care if her daughters hate her.  They would find happiness in success.  Is that all?  The more she justifies her parenting by her daughters’ successes, the more intense is the feeling of disgust, partly at the approach itself, but mostly by her arrogant belittling of “Western” parenting.

———

Having been disillusioned with Pulitzer fiction, I moved to Booker non-fiction – ” The Emperor of All Maladies”.  Ever since I heard of the book, I have been torn between the desire to read it and the fear of the can of worms it might unleash from the dark recess of my memories (my mother died of cancer).   Tentatively I started the book.

BRILLIANT.

I am only 10% into the book so far (it is a big book) and can already perceive the author’s sincerity of purpose, intelligence and acknowledgement of the intelligence of the reader.  Siddhartha Mukherjee has done a thorough study of cancer from all aspects and presented it in a clear, pleasing, and most importantly, UN-DEPRESSING way.  It is also a very thought-provoking book, and describes the heroes of the past and present who have gone to great lengths, trying to tame the monster. As I know from personal experience, the crab is still wild, but the story of human ingenuity and perseverance is stimulating.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book.

——–

Many people have asked my opinion of the Kindle and I have uniformly raved about it. True, it is fantastic for fiction, but for non-fiction the kindle leaves much to be desired.  For one, it is very difficult to navigate pages randomly.  While fiction progresses linearly and it is usually unnecessary to move up and down to understand something better, non-fiction is based on the premise that you refer back and forth constantly to understand the subject matter.

For non-fiction, I would NOT recommend the kindle.   For example, kindle is useless for The Emperor of all Maladies.

—–

Such stands the book read for now.

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About LG

Just because...
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