Tag Archive | books made into movies

The Colour Purple- Alice Walker : 5/52 (Colour)

Such a feel good book.

Whaat? Yes. To me, it was a feel good book. Because, read it to know why.

Celie. Young, traumatized, lost, helpless Celie writes letters to god because she has no one else to write to. She tells god about how she got big after her Pa visited her at night. She tells god about the babies she gave birth to, the babies that disappeared, the baby she saw again with the pastor’s wife. About how she was made to marry Mister___ just to look after him and his horrid kids because her father refused to let her younger and prettier sister Nettie marry him. Through these letters,she tells god the story of her life. She doesn’t complain, she doesn’t ask him for anything. She just tells him.

Her closest relative is her sister Nettie who suddenly leaves her life, and then Shug enters. Shug, her husband Mister____’s mistress. Shug who had children with Mister_____.But again, Celie just takes it in as what was meant to be. She nurses Shug back to health and the two women form a bond that is so tender, so beautiful and oh so disturbingly twisted. All the relationships in the book are so strong and beautiful. Celie and Sophia, two women at the opposite ends of the spectrum. While Celie submits to fate, Sophia punches fate in the nose, be it her husband Harpo or his new girlfriend Squeak or the mayor’s wife. The women and men are so different, but so much the same. They love, they live, they laugh, they bond. And inspite of everything, they stay together as one big happy family. There are round houses, there are pink houses and there are pretty pants. Yes, it is a happy book because not once did I lose hope. There was always something that kept telling me that things will change for everyone, and it did. Maybe it was the way Celie looked at life with no expectations. Such and attitude shames god and he feels guilty and so, he gives.

I usually don’t highlight much, but in this book, I highlighted almost an entire chapter. The one where Shug and Celie talk about god. It was such a stimulating discussion and it gave me an answer that no one has been able to give me all these years. That is god to me.

The book moves to Africa and gives you a glimpse of life in an African village through the eyes of a black American woman. Something quite the opposite of Americanah. Much of that reminded me of Things Fall Apart. How the white man makes inroads into the continent in the name of civilizing the heathen natives, bringing progress and development and taking away the little bit of life that they have.

There’s graphic sex and violence, there’s deep racism, there’s capitalism, there’s chauvinism, there’s a wide gender divide. But it also overcomes. Everything.

I really don’t understand why this book was so controversial. Maybe those who outraged about it didn’t read it till the very end.

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The Promise- Danielle Steel : 56/52

Lulz

a) I’m too old for this kind of drivel

b) This wasn’t drivel back in 1978

c) I’m too hardhearted and cynical to understand Love

Chances are that the right answer might be option c.

After the thundercloud of This Divided Island, I wanted some cotton candy fluffy clouds. The Promise was one of those books that Chitrakka made be get for her from V K Library. It was the rage back then. Longlongago. I think I even tried to read it as a teenager, I do have vague memories of some beads being buried on a beach. But I don’t think I finished reading the book back then. The story was totally new to me now, new meaning roll-your-eyes-at-the-cliched-plot kind of new.

All it lacked was six songs and two fight scenes. Otherwise it was the perfect BollyKollyTollywood plot. I’m sure this book must have been made into an Indian movie. Or was it too lame for even that? Rich boy, poor girl, villi mother. Lou. Accident, lies, plastic surgery, Devdasish mode. Two years later meet, don’t recognise, fight, make up. Live happily everafter.

Classic Danielle Steel setting: everything and everyone is beautiful. Perfectly dressed women, effortlessly chic in Channel or in miraculous bargain buys . Gold clasp handbags, luxury luggage, gold cigarette cases, gold watch fobs. Adorable doggies, breathtaking views from the window. The works.  And the typical Danielle Steel relationships: old people in love, young people in love, young woman in love with a man 20 years her senior. Gaaaaaah.

Anyway. I wanted fluff, I got fluff.

 

Afternote:

And suddenly I realised that this was part of the theme in Anbe Sivam. Rich girl, poor boy. Elopement, accident, disfigured face. Lies. That movie wasn’t about love as it was about other things, but I did wonder what Bala would have done if she had seen Nalla in the end. The romantic in me ( there isn’t one) wants to say that she would have called off the wedding and lived regretfully ever after with an ugly but principled husband. And the cynic in me ( there’s lots of her) says that she would have pretended not to recognise him or brushed him off with gentle words and lived happily everafter with the handsome Ars. What would I have done? I love communists with their lofty ideals and impractical principles, but I think I too would have chosen the MNC slave adman.  But no, the disfigured face wouldn’t have mattered to me.

What do you think would have happened?

We Need to Talk About Kevin: Lionel Shriver- 52/52

My biological clock just left the building.

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There is a reason why I picked up this book. I started it a few months ago, but the first couple of chapters were a drag, so I abandoned it. Then something happened last Thursday that made me feel I just had to read this book. And I couldn’t put it down until that very last chapter, that very last line. That very last line that left me stunned.

At first, I thought Lionel Shriver was a man and that is why Eva Katchadourian came out as un-womanly as ever. No woman, I thought, can even think of writing about regretting a pregnancy just because she had to stay off wine. But then, Lionel Shriver is a woman. A woman who wrote a book so stark, so honest, so unapologetic, so bonechilling and so shockingly real.

I hated Eva. If only she had put in half the effort she put to get Kevin her surname into actually understanding and loving Kevin, Thursday may not have happened. Or would it have? Maybe she shouldn’t have wanted the answer to the Big Question. Maybe she should have just let the page be, not turned it. Turned it to reveal the horror on the next page. Maybe. And I hated Franklin. For all his denial. For all his good intentions. I hated him for just wanting to have had Kevin. But Kevin, I couldn’t hate him. I couldn’t love him. I couldn’t feel anything for him.

An unborn child can hear, it can feel, it is scientifically proven. An unborn child can learn the secrets of warfare from his mother’s womb, it has been mythologically proven. And now I believe that an unborn child can hate. A minute old Kevin shuns his mother’s breast. A four year old Kevin destroys his mother’s favourite wallpaper. A six year old Kevin plays mind games with his mother. A fourteen year old Kevin disgusts his mother. An almost sixteen year old Kevin destroys her life. And his. And eleven more.

The writing was not so great, so many digressions. Letters of confession, unsaid words, unthinkable thoughts all poured out to Dear Franklin. But those digressions were probably necessary. You need to know how much she loved her job and her company and her travels , loved those so much more than she loved her son. You need to know about her agoraphobic mother, maybe that mental condition manifested itself in another way in Eva. You need to know about her contempt towards American society, the very society she brought up her son in. You need to know how much importance she gave to her Armenian ancestry and the genocide. You need to know. Because only then you’ll understand the other genocide. That high school genocide.

Devastating. Haunting. Shocking. Mindnumbing. The book kicked me in the pit of my stomach. The book reached inside my heart and squeezed it till it clogged up. The book reached inside my mind, my soul and made me introspect. Yeah.

PS: Two things I didn’t buy. How does Kevin mention ‘flying planes into the World Trade Center’ in April 2011? How does he manage to keep that object he gives his mother in the end? Doesn’t juvi have the same squat and cough rules as in other prisons?

 

Afternote:

Now let’s get personal.

Last week I got a frantic call from a friend. Her 16 year old son had just called the child helpline number and complained about her just because she refused to buy him a laptop. No, not refused. She just didn’t buy it for him the moment he asked for it.

Five years ago, I wrote this 55 word fiction piece.

 “Half that blood is your father’s. How else do I expect you to behave?”She slapped him. “As long as that bitch’s blood runs in your body, don’t call me Appa” He shouted. The mother’s still remained inside when they found him. The father’s blood had coagulated as a pool around that eleven year old wrist.

That was when the same child had threatened to jump off the balcony.

Two years ago, I got this email from my friend. She had fractured her leg and was immobile without her crutches.

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That was when she had asked the boy to study.

And last Thursday, I took calls the whole day. From the mother, from the father, from the aunt and from the child himself. Horrible language was used, tears were shed, family was disowned, death threats were made. The rage resonated across 600+ kilometers and sent a shiver through my spine.‘ Oru savam inniku vizhum paarungo’. And I thought to myself, ‘If only this was America, this boy would have grabbed a gun and shot a dozen of his classmates’. And that is why I picked up the book from where I had abandoned it. No, he is not Kevin, she is not Eva and he is not Franklin. Thankfully, there is no Celia. This is a more complex story. But in some way, they are too.

We take it for granted in India that ‘good news’ questions are in order two months after the wedding. Why India, even George Clooney’s father-in-law wanted babies even before the wedding pictures were sold to a tabloid. And of course, no woman can not want a baby. She is either a monster, a career minded bitch or just plain hormone deficient if her uterus doesn’t skip a beat whenever she sees tiny crocheted socks or catch a whiff of Johnson’s baby powder. Maybe our society, culture and complex family network helps such monsterwomen overcome their true feelings and go on to make happy families. But you can’t deny that such women do not exist. Or that such thoughts do not cross the minds of some women, even fleetingly.

And then there’s postpartum depression. Maybe our oldwives call it something else. But another friend wept to me five years after her daughter had been born. About how she couldn’t touch the baby for a fortnight, how she hated her husband for feeling so comfortable with the baby. About how when she was alone, she slapped the week old baby. Slapped. The. Week. Old. Baby. Again, our family system complete with gushing mothers and mothers-in-law, neighbors, extended family and long paid maternity leave help tide over this kind of crisis. This child has ofcourse turned out alright.

But I’m afraid. Very afraid now. Is there a Kevin walking among us? How many?

 

52 done. And what a book to finish with!

 

The Devil Wears a Prada-Lauren Weisberger :45/52

As chicklitty as chicklit can get.

When it comes to chick-things, I am an unashamed fan of chickflicks. I’ve spent entire weekends with Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts. But chicklit, not so much. The movie is *always* better than the book. I had started this book several times and couldn’t go past the first few paragraphs where she struggles with a stickshift car, cigarette in hand and wearing some fancy shoes and breaking the heel. But I finally picked up the motivation to get past those first few pages and things started looking better.

The Devil takes on more importance than the typical whiny, self-deprecating chicklit heroine that Andrea is. So it makes the book tolerably spicy. Miranda Priestly is amazing. She is my role model now and I aspire to be a boss like her some day. Who wouldn’t love to have two young girls whom they could bully to death at their beck and call. Ahndrea, where’s my coffee? Ahndrea, this coffee is too cold. Ahndrea get me That restaurant review from That newspaper. You can read my mind as to which one I’m talking about. Ahndrea get me yet another $200 white Hermes scarf.  Ahndrea, get my underwear drycleaned. How great would it be to call your assistant in New York from Paris and ask her to connect you to a mobile number in Paris or to get her to charter you a plane during a storm at midnight. Too bad that I’m basically a very wimpy niceguy. I’ll never make Boss.

Andrea is boring, but likeable. Especially when she does things like regularly buying Starbucks coffee for the homeless and charges it to the company account, or wiping her greasy fingers on Miranda’s Versace clothes that she has to get cleaned. Lily the BFF, Alex the good boyfriend and the mysterious Christian who turns up at the most unexpected places and flirts with her ( what is it with these guys named Christian) come and go and offer some twists in the tale. Stereotype gay men in the fashion industry, snooty senior assistants, designers, designers and more designer names. Bleh. The writing was painfully repetitive and predictable. Same old same old. But I rushed through reading those parts because I wanted to read more about Miranda being Miranda.

But what made this book more interesting was that it was actually a sort of tell-all book that was based on the author’s stint as Anna Wintour’s assistant. Anna Wintour is rumoured to be much more demanding than the fictional Miranda Priestly, if that is actually even possible. Miranda is this ice queen-fashionista-bitchbosswoman whose one look can get her assistants to change out their comfortable shoes and wear Jimmy Choo stillettos even when doing their coffee runs. I had a difficult time believing that part because daily-trimmed-perfect-bob notwithstanding, Anna Wintour wears the fugliest shoes ever. Maybe they are custom made Manolo Blahniks, but puhleese. These?

I checked out the movie trailer and that seemed more interesting. Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep are just perfect. I should watch the movie soon.

I’ve got Revenge Wears a Prada also, but that is going to just sit there for long time. Maybe I’ll wait for the movie instead.

Summer and the City- Candace Bushnell : 20/52

What better way to recover from Stephen King’s Carrie than a dose of good ole Carrie Bradshaw. Or that’s what I thought. Having loved the SATC TV series, I thought I’d give the books also a try

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Thinking that The Carrie Diaries would be too teeny bopper, I started off with Summer and the City assuming that it was about a more grown up Carrie. I was wrong. It is about a not-yet-eighteen Carrie experimenting in the big bad city. Experimenting with writing, fashion and older men. In no particular order. Set in the eighties, it takes some effort to deal with rubber, vinyl and plastic garments (loved the scrubs, though) , lack of hard disks and mobile phones and firebrand feminism. Oh, scratch the last one.

But what I absolutely couldn’t deal with was a Carrie who cooks and a Samantha who is engaged and wants to ‘settle down’. Very, very un-Samantha. Way to bring the characters we watched and loved come crashing down. Miranda is Miranda, on the right path to becoming Miranda. Charlotte too,making an entry at the very end, is very Charoltte. Carrie comes out as clingy and whiny at times, but that’s what she was with Big, so her clinginess with Bernard isn’t something new. And Bernard, though he sets a foundation for Carrie’s Big obsession, certainly is not Big. Not that it matters much, but I don’t know what genre this book comes under. Was it Young Adult fiction or Age-No-Bar Chicklit? If it was the former, I have problems with the unapologetic underage drinking and excessive smoking. If it is not, I don’t. (What does that make me?) Bleh and a half stars for the book, but I will certainly read The Carrie Diaries and Sex and The City only because my OCD won’t allow me not to.

Girl, Interrupted- Susanna Kaysen : 9/52

It makes you wonder.

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After having watched the movie a dozen times and having loved it, I finally got my hands on the book. No, though I’m tempted to, I will make no comparisons. Because both aren’t the same.

Everyone goes through a phase, be it at 18 or at 38. Do we really need to give that phase a name and put it into a textbook? That was the question that I kept asking myself long after I closed the book. Were all those cups of medication pumped into her for no reason at all? Is Borderline Personality Disorder actually a disorder? I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to these questions. And that’s what she asks herself throughout the book. Was I really sick? The Brain vs Mind chapter provided some deep insights from a layperson’s point of view, in pretty simple language.

After the much hyped The Bell Jar made no impact on me, I braced myself for another disappointment, since this book too hovered on a similar theme. Sylvia Plath gets a mention in this book, having been an inmate of the same mental hospital earlier. But the simplicity of Girl, Interrupted was stark, rather than bland ( which was what I felt about The Bell Jar)

Short chapters that read like a shuffled diary, no flowery prose.  She was just saying it like it was. What she did, what she felt, whom she met, whom she liked, whom she didn’t.

Small characters like the Other Lisa, Alice Calais and Torrey made an impact, and left me wondering what happened to them. The meeting with Lisa Rowe after her release seemed more cinematic than real, and I was slightly worried about the fate of her child. I sincerely hope he turned out ok.

This is a kind of book that I will pick up again whenever I feel like it and just read random chapters.

PS: I loved the story behind the book’s title. Here is the painting. 

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