Tag Archive | Pulp Fiction

The Reluctant Detective-Kiran Manral: 22/52

Chicken soup for the Masochist’s soul
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What is the longest it has taken for you to finish a book? A 180 page book?

Circa 2012
In which I buy the book: A Twitter celeb wrote a book and it was all over the place.I decided to buy said book out of curiosity, mildly combined with a twinge of jealousy since I feel jealous of all people who write and get published.

In which I start reading the book:  I read a couple of paragraphs, struggled through the first chapter and threw the book in disgust.
In which I attempt to read said book again:  I tried. Honestly tried.

Circa 2013
In which I consider throwing the book away:  Just like my fake Jimmy Choo handbag with the torn lining that I picked up on my trip to China, the trip just before I went on that trip to Bangkok where I wore my golden shift top and black trousers to the fancy nightclub where I saw a Man In Something Something make eyes at me inspite of my fat backside that refuses to shrink even when I wear my shapewear knickers, and my bottle of Insert Long and Fancy Brand Name of an Expensive and Fancy make up product that I cannot bring myself to throw away, I couldn’t bring myself to secretly slip in this book along with the newspaper pile to the raddiwalla.

Circa 2014
In which I succeed (Finishing it, not throwing it away) :
I saw a retweet of the tweet that the author twittered about said book being on some offer in Amazon. I checked said offer and it was Rs.128. I cursed myself for having purchased the book for Rs.One Sixty something when I could have bought myself a shade of Kill Me Now nailpolish from a footpath stall selling poisonous lead laden nail paint for the difference in price.

I woke up one Saturday morning in spring aka summer in Chennai and checked my schedule. I had no lunches or shopping trips or meetups with The Girls aka my BFFs planned. They have been my BFFs since we were in pigtails. Insert long winded extremely common incident that happens in school. So I put on my grey T shirt, the grey being the shade of a pigeon’s backside, and pyjamas in the colour of an awesomely cool colour that goes perfectly with said grey TShirt. I bristled around and made myself a cup of green tea and sat with said cup of green tea and willed myself to finish the book come what may. While said tea aka Weight Loss Tip number gazillion of trazillion that I follow sat on the Urban Ladder Fancy Name coffee table, I skimmed through the pages of the book with the determination of a one legged mosquito climbing Mount Everest on foot.

In which I cannot do this anymore:
Ok. I can’t write as badly as this book was written even if you hold this book to my head and make me write. But I finished it. It is about a woman’s life in a Mumbai apartment complex, her cliched husband aka The Spouse ( yeah, that’s still a thing) and her son aka The Brat ( as someone said, that’s the new Munna) who speaks in retarded SMSese ( shoot me for using the R word, but dat iz how she madd d kid tak thru oud d boog) and her entire wardrobe.
And some murder and something.

In which I challenge you to finish the book: Hah.

Disclaimer: I am in no way responsible for the Lobotomy/Extreme Aarghing/ Banging your Head on the Wall/ Project Write My Own Book Because If She Can So Can I venture/ Deathbeatings that you subject yourself to afterwards.

In which I ask you to read this first: If you enjoy the review, thank you. If you were not able to read the whole review, you’ll get what I’m trying to say.

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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.

The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction : 15/52

When I was growing up, a certain kind of books were widely popular among the typist akkas who worked in the small tea companies in my neighbourhood. They would always have a slim book with a large eyed woman on the cover next to their typewriters. These books were traded back and forth and at some point, the women on the covers would have been embellished with ballpoint pen bindis, additional tendrills of hair and sometimes moustaches or blackened teeth. Ay Naaval Time. There was something in these books. Something. So I left my brains behind and read this translated anthology. And oh, it was one crazy ride.

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The Women: ( Except for the ones in the two sensible Vidya Subramaniam stories)

a) Good ‘family’ women never cut their hair, not even split ends. They get terribly disturbed when they see PDA and the degradation of Indian/ Tamil culture. ‘Modern’ women go to beauty parlours, cut their hair, wear ‘chudithars’, gossip about film stars and some even try to seduce their bosses.

b) When the clue to a murder is a cigarette butt, Tamil women can be eliminated as suspects because they will never even be in a room where there is a cigarette, let alone smoke. ( But on the other side there are also college girls who do drugs and sleep around)

c) They silently bear their husbands’ insults and make cashew pakodas for them

d) There are also ‘free type’ women, the detective’s sidekicks,  who wear shorts and T-shirts with words like ‘Swelling yours’ (ewwwww) written on them. They talk about Debonair and take sleazy innuendos in their stride.

Science Fiction : Idhaya 2020 made me wonder which came first Endhiran or Rajesh Kumar’s robot. And there were Fate Life Readers. But by the time I read the story with NASA astronauts planning conception in outer space, my mind was blown.

The Detective stories : Take a bow Sherlock Holmes. Murders solved from carefully written diary entries, torn magazine covers,  beedi butts under the bed and jasmine scented hankerchieves, again, conveniently dropped under the bed. But I must cut them some slack since one of these stories was written in 1967.

Words :  Most of the words and expressions were explained for non-Tamil readers in the glossary at the end of the book. So you need not wonder what a ragalai or kuja is. But this one word, one that I would love to use in a real life conversation someday, wasn’t explained: Jagadalapradhapan. I’ve been rolling it around on my tongue ever since I read it. 

While I would not buy the next volume of this anthology, I recommend this one. Pulp Fiction deserves its rightful place in Tamil Literature and this book gives you the right sized bite of it.