Book Review: Post Office by Charles Bukowski

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

38434Read: 16th June 2017

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 22 seconds. Contains 476 words.

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My Rating: 4 Stars

I can’t understand Bukowski, not even slightly relatable. I find him disgusting and even after that I like reading him, I mean his books. And when I need some push to work my way through then it is his poem that helps me, Roll the dice. “If you are going to try, go all the way.”(I literally have the whole narration saved in my mobile.)

This is Charles Bukowski’s first book, published in 1971. It’s a story of a man named Henry Chinaski “Hank”, Bukowski’s literary alter ego.

To start with, I found this book quite funny, it has funny moments and very crude at times. His writing is not tender and he certainly doesn’t talk much about feelings.

The main character is not very aspirational and keeps losing everything and most of it because of his own faults. He is alcoholic, a womanizer, screw all the time. He is seriously all about booze, women, and sex. I find him dark and depressive though sometimes funny, most of the time disgusting.

I don’t really recommend his books to anyone because what should I even say, Oh! do you want to read a book by someone who speaks dirty, use condescending language to portray female characters, a misogynist, and takes self-deprecation to a new height, or I would say do you want to read a book by someone who’s writing can be ugly, offensive and violent but truthful, who is hostile towards women but that is not it, he is actually hostile toward humankind.

So would you like to read it? It’s good(But if you can’t take offense don’t blame me.)

Now coming to the good part, even though the character is an alcoholic he is not totally doomed, deep down he knows that he can’t just die homeless as an alcoholic, so he does work even though the work sucks, he did survive, poorly but still.

“the first place smelled like work, so I took the second.”

He does love his dog and shows kindness to an alcoholic ex-lover. He is not all bad but he’s not good either, never felt sorry for this guy.

The character hates bureaucracy and he has to deal with it throughout the book while he works at the Post office and he finds it stupid and pointless.

I skipped the part with betting on horses, I can’t read anything related to fishing and betting on horses, I do the same thing with Hemingway, I can’t stand it. They write about it, I don’t read it. I skip it and I just assume that they just talked about betting and then losing and winning money.

I like this book and I gave this 4 stars also because of my personal bias towards this guy. I recommend it because everyone should read some Bukowski in their lifetime. I like his poems and short stories more than his novels, seriously. Poems are really good.

 

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Book Review: The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

“We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves.”

18143905Read: 15th June 2017

My Rating: 3 Stars

This book is a collection contains short stories and essays and a split between fiction and non-fiction.

I liked some short stories and some essay and I didn’t like most of them.

In general I liked the non-fiction part more than fiction. There were shorts stories that I literally skipped, I couldn’t make myself read them, didn’t hold my interest.

I particularly liked Stability in Motion, where she talked about her grandmother’s car which was passed down to her. That was good to read.

And Against the Grain, where she talked about how her mother was particular about her non-gluten diet, I see all the mother in that one essay, I mean how all the mothers are much the same when it comes to their kids, no I’m not talking about the non-gluten diet thing.

I don’t know what I really feel about this book because I really didn’t find anything special in it. But overall I don’t know what is the point of this book, I am only happy that it was a short book because it would not have kept my interest.

Book Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“It’s terrifying when you consider that every thought we have, every choice we could possibly make, branches into a new world.”

27833670Read: 19th June 2017

Estimate reading time: 2 minutes, 16 seconds. Contains 455 words.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Synopsis: “Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

The idea of this book was really interesting and the plot was really fast paced, it took me nearly 4.5 hours to finish this book.

I don’t know how to talk about this book without giving spoilers so I’ll leave that part.

I really liked the whole equilibrium of the book when it started and so did I like the evolution of the story, I mean the rising action. The author threw me in a different world that I had no idea about and he did create suspense and I had no idea what was going on. The series of events that were happening during this stage of the story gave me chills and it was exciting until it all came crashing down.

For me the story was a tad bit predictable and the first time when he talked about parallel world, I think at that point, he gave away a little too much because I could see where the story was going and when he did disclose it in the latter part of the story it was not surprising and that was a bummer.

The romantic bits were extremely cheesy at times. I felt that the later part of the book was quite a mess and he dragged it a little bit.

There were some deep and bigger ideas in this book(though we might have just read about most of them) and I think the author could have used them more wisely in character evolution, he did put them out there and only used some of them for evolving the story. So even though I can say that the story was moving and evolving with the turn of every page, the characters not so much.

“Life doesn’t work that way. You live with your choices and learn. You don’t cheat the system.”

Though I still think that it was an exciting thriller and I don’t regret reading it. So the conclusion, I loved the first half of the book very much and second half not so much, but it was interesting and kept all my attention.

“Until everything topples, we have no idea what we actually have, how precariously and perfectly it all hangs together.”

 

Book Review: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

“You are all a lost generation.”

3876Read: 14th, October,2016- 19th, October,2016

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 23 seconds. Contains 1079 words

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Book Description: The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

This is the second book that I read written by Hemingway, the first being, The Old Man and The Sea which I liked. But I’m not quite sure about how I really feel about this book, The Sun Also Rises.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway which he wrote in the mid-1920s is a book about Lost Generation or Wasted Generation.

Lost Generation: noun, the generation reaching maturity during or after First World War, a high proportion of whose men were killed during those years.

Ernest Hemingway volunteered to serve in Italy as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross during the First World War so he himself was a part of the Lost Generation that he talks about in this book. These people lost a part of themselves in the war. The experience of the war deeply changed the way people see themselves and who they think they are. So yes this book is about the generation who faced and suffered during the First World War and Hemingway in this book tries to talk about how the war changed people and how they couldn’t ever be the same people they used to be, and how they could never come back to the society and felt like the outcast.

Now let’s talk about the book.

This book is a beautiful melancholy and it captures the entire generation, the lost generation as I talked about earlier. His characters show that they have dreams, that they want to accomplish, they want to achieve something but they can’t because they lost themselves.

“Going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.”

These people were trying to have a good time, but most of it as Hemingway described in this book was booze, women, food, going to places, and hanging out. They were doing many things but nothing was really happening in the book.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”

Similarly how nothing was happening in their lives(that makes sense.) They were lost in the modern world and the whole time they talked and talked but about nothing, that shows the chaos and how they were lost in the chaos(I don’t know what am I writing, I’m lost).

“This is a hell of dull talk…How about some of that champagne?”

This book was very stereotypical Hemingway.

The book in itself was very calm and slow paced, but most of the things that he wrote seem to me of no importance. A large descriptions about what they drank or how much money they spent on that bottle of scotch, so many details but of no use. I see that he did that on purpose but why I don’t see.

I did start to like this book once they reached Spain and I also liked the bull fight part and did start catching up with what was happening(and I guess that was half way through the book.)

“The bulls are my best friends.”
I translated to Brett.
“You kill your friends?” she asked.
“Always,” he said in English and laughed. “So they don’t kill me.”

I couldn’t really understand their emotions because he didn’t talk about them and none of his characters did.

Brett was every man’s love interest and nothing deep really happened. I don’t even know what they felt and what they felt about each other.

My problem with everything that was happening in this book is that I couldn’t really relate to it, most of the things sounded ridiculous to me. Yes, maybe something more suitable for that generation but not so much to this.

The day I started reading this book, it was late at night around 1 A.M. and I was laying on my bed reading this book on my phone, lights were off and the window was open so that I could enjoy the fresh air and then I came across this passage from Chapter 4 and I loved it because it was so much similar to the setting I was in and it is one thing that got stuck in my mind. I was thinking about my version of Brett and trains were running on the tracks and that is only sound you could hear in the silence of the night. I may have cried a little bit because of the whole situation that was building up and fell asleep as I came towards the end of the passage.

When I think about that moment, I think of it as a moment that I shared with Hemingway, in a way(very cheesy, I know, but it did happen and I’ll always remember it.)

“I lit the lamp beside the bed, turned off the gas, and opened the wide windows, and I sat with the windows open and undressed by the bed. Outside a night train, running on the street-car tracks, went by carrying vegetables to the markets. They were noisy at night when you could not sleep…

…I lay awake thinking and my mind jumping around. Then I couldn’t keep away from it, and I started to think about Brett and all the rest of it went away. I was thinking about Brett and my mind stopped jumping around and started to go in sort of smooth waves. Then all of a sudden I started to cry. Then after a while, it was better and I lay in bed and listened to the heavy trams go by and way down the street, and then I went to sleep.”

“It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night is another thing.”

Book Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck on Friendship and loneliness.

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

186521Read: 12th, February, 2017

Estimate reading time: 5 minutes, 35 seconds. Contains 1116 words.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Three months back I went to a bookstore and found two book kept side by side, at first I was very indecisive when it came to making a choice between this book and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, I really like both the writers so I ended up buying both of them and reading both of them though I still have to read last few pages of In Cold Blood, I’ll make it happen, I know that and I’ll write about it soon.

So about this book, the book cover says: The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength.

Before I begin I must say that I love John Steinbeck’s books, I haven’t read them all but whatever I have read I always loved it. I really like the profound messages one can find while reading his books and how he can write stories about rookies and ordinary working class people and make them relatable to everyone reading them. Great Depression indeed provided him with a whole lot of subject to write about and it’s worth reading.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck which he wrote in the year 1937 is based on the theme of friendship and loneliness. It’s a story of two drifters in search of work during the time of Great Depression, it’s a story of their companionship and friendship and how people need each other.

“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.”

George and Lennie have no one other than each other in the whole wide world, they don’t have a place to live. But they have a dream, one common dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Lennie asks George to tell him about their dream repeatedly throughout the book because Lennie is forgetful and he likes when George tell him what they both would do when they will have land of their own.

“Everybody wants a little bit of land, not much. Jus’ som’thin’ that was his. Som’thin’ he could live on and there couldn’t nobody throw him off of it.”

George is street smart and wise while Lennie is big, strong and dumb or I may say mentally handicapped(I don’t know how to put it subtly). Lennie likes to touch soft things but since he is strong that most of the times he kills them and creates trouble for both of them.

“Trouble with mice is you always kill ’em.”

George is a good friend he takes care of Lennie though he sometimes feels trapped with him because he thinks he can be so much more if he doesn’t have to take responsibility of Lennie. He constantly complains that if he did not have Lennie then he could have a girlfriend or go down for drinking and build a life for himself but then he takes care of Lennie as a parent and he genuinely want Lennie to stay with him.

“Guy don’t need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus’ works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain’t hardly ever a nice fella.”

When you read this book you can feel emotional appeal and can feel for every character. The undertone of this book is loneliness, every character is lonely, some are so lonely that they long for attention, they are afraid they will lose their partner, won’t let go because they are afraid they will be left alone, be the leader so that they get to have followers and try to stay put with people and what happens to people when they are isolated.

Few things were terrifying for me because I’m someone who tends to isolate.

“A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin’ books or thinkin’ or stuff like that. Sometimes he gets thinkin’, an’ he got nothing to tell him what’s so an’ what ain’t so. Maybe if he sees somethin’, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. He can’t turn to some other guy and ask him if he sees it too. He can’t tell. He got nothing to measure by. I seen things out here. I wasn’t drunk. I don’t know if I was asleep. If some guy was with me, he could tell me I was asleep, an’ then it would be all right. But I jus’ don’t know.”

Curley’s wife, although a bizarre woman but yes she longs for attention, she indeed is left alone and she does feel lonely. Candy won’t let go of his dog because he knows that he will be left alone even though his dog stinks and left with no life, Curley always looking for his wife afraid he would lose her to someone else, Slim being the leader so that he can listen to people and be around them.

In Chapter 3 Candy says, I oughtta shot that dog myself, George, I should not oughtta let no stranger my dog.

George from above statement did learn some lesson.

I really like the symbolism of the snake which Steinbeck used twice in the story, once when George and Lennie first came to the ranch and second time towards the end of the story.

“A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shadows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.”

The symbolism of snake bring the forces of evil and symbolizes something bad is to come and here in this story it totally foreshadows death. In the beginning of the book that very snake glides without harm.

This book is straight realism, it’s life and has some kind of sweetness but most of it is heart-wrenching and a bit depressing.

I think I’ll never forget about this book because the way it ended was heartbreaking and completely brutal. I still remember how I felt while reading this book and how the ending completely drained me.

Book Review: The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy

“Death is finished,” he said to himself.  “It is no more!”

18386My Rating: *4 Stars*

I read this book few days back before going to sleep and I must say that this book made me think a lot.

The only reason I don’t pick up Russian books is because they are fully loaded with Russian names and in the end, I end up calling people whatever name I want to. So, the only name I remember is Ivan Ilych.(I know you don’t have to know this, but it literally sucks.)

So as the title suggests and you can totally make this out that it’s about death of a person named Ivan Ilych.

The theme of this book is Death and just so you know I love reading books that deals with death.

This book makes you think inward and ponder upon the subject of life and death, sure it does. When I started reading it, the tone of the writing was really cold and it does suit the setting that was of a funeral with some slap on the face humor which I wonder was there or it was just an effort made my Tolstoy to bring the readers out of the depressive setting that he created in his book.

Tolstoy did talk about morality and there were few situation where even I gave out a chuckle or two and then I thought how inappropriate it was. He starts with how when someone dies people for a very brief time show their sympathy, they feel a bit sad for the person who died, but they feel more happy for they didn’t, for they are alive and it’s not their time, yet.

I want to quote few lines from the funeral part of the story…

His acquaintance…

“Schwartz was waiting for him in the adjoining room with legs spread wide apart and both hands toying with his top-hat behind his back.  The mere sight of that playful, well-groomed, and elegant figure refreshed Peter Ivanovich.  He felt that Schwartz was above all these happenings and would not surrender to any depressing influences.”

Schwartz didn’t give a hoot. He was there just to mark his presence.


His wife…

“Oh, terribly!  He screamed unceasingly, not for minutes but for hours.  for the last three days he screamed incessantly.  It was unendurable.  I cannot understand how I bore it; you could hear him three rooms off.  Oh, what I have suffered!”

And then his wife said that she suffered. I ask from what? The screams of her husband that she couldn’t tolerate? OH MY GOD! Reading those lines made me feel worse.


His friend…

“The service began:  candles, groans, incense, tears, and sobs.  Peter Ivanovich stood looking gloomily down at his feet. He did not look once at the dead man, did not yield to any depressing influence, and was one of the first to leave the room…

…Peter Ivanovich found the fresh air particularly pleasant after the smell of incense, the dead body, and carbolic acid.”

He just wanted to get out of the awkward situation that he was in, the funeral. So, that at least he can feel happy about his life and that he was alive.


I suffered from all insensitivity these characters showed, made me think for once that how people really do that kind of shit all the time. Some of them feel sad when other people suffer but they feel more happy for themselves because they are all well and fine, then there are few people who don’t give a hoot about anyone, they only think about what they can get out of others suffering, how others suffering can benefit them. And some of them feel relieved that at least it’s all over so that they can move on in life.

Ivan was a nice man, he lived a well to do life, he owned a good house, had a good career, money, a good position in the society and a family. If you look at the surface he had it all. But one day when death announced itself to him, everything came crashing down.

“Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”

When pain and agony made him question his life, when he looked back in time, he realized he lost all the joy with time and he started questioning life. All that he had was what the society was expecting from him, not necessarily what he wanted out of life.

“False. Everything by which you have lived and live now is all a deception, a lie, concealing both life and death from you.”

“And in imagination he began to recall the best moments of his pleasant life.  But strange to say none of those best moments of his pleasant life now seemed at all what they had then seemed—none of them except the first recollections of childhood.  There, in childhood, there had been something really pleasant with which it would be possible to live if it could return.  But the child who had experienced that happiness existed no longer, it was like a reminiscence of somebody else.

 As soon as the period began which had produced the present Ivan Ilych, all that had then seemed joys now melted before his sight and turned into something trivial and often nasty.”

Alone while suffering and waiting for his death he questioned himself and his soul. He saw his life in a different light. He suffered his destruction all alone and died everyday a little thinking that no one really cared to understand his sufferings.

“It can’t be that life is so senseless and horrible. But if it really has been so horrible and senseless, why must I die and die in agony? There is something wrong!”

And then he died and we came to an end.

“Death is finished, he said to himself. It is no more!”

And there it was “The Death of Ivan Ilych”.

It’s a short book but I believe one should read this book, it can be a heavy read for some people but worth reading. Once you’ll start reading it, I’m sure you won’t be able to put it down.