Posts Tagged ‘Fyodor Dostoevsky’

Electric Kool-Aid Test was the only book review I have ever published. That was six years ago. I tried reviewing Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide a few summers ago, but sobriety’s delayed response sort of killed the effort. With much love and at her Satanic Majesty’s request, a few of my favourite novels…

dostoevsky-cropCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

If memory serves me right, this is the first novel I have ever devoured that wasn’t written by an Englishman. My dad’s swank hardbound version of this Fyodor Dostoevsky classic caught my attention with its ‘black sheep’ status amongst sea of Britannica Encyclopedia volumes. A few nights of reading later, it occurred to me that I was a sick bastard with a fetish for fictional depression. At that point, no other work of art came close to influencing my perception of reality as much as Crime and Punishment did. Kafka’s Metamorphosis was devastating in the way it dealt with alienation, but Dostoevsky…well, he took pleasure in baiting the devil out by elaborating on the details. I’ll put it this way…a large dosage of Prozac could have helped Gregor Samsa retain his sanity, but as for Romanovich Raskolnikov…all the happy pills in the world couldn’t cure the sickness that had pervaded his life. And like any self-respecting reader, I reserved my sense of voyeurism for the utterly hopeless.

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Reading Sophie’s World was akin to getting hit by a freight train loaded with Pre and Post- Socratic philosophy books. In fact there’s so much information that you almost forget that you are reading a novel. Remember all the interesting bits and pieces that often hid in the corner of our textbooks? Information that makes you feel good about being er…informed. That’s Sophie’s World in a nutshell. I could almost picture Ms Amundsen and Mr Knox sitting on two adjacent armchairs inside the 10 C classroom at Don Bosco. I’m right there…taking notes and secretly admiring the fact that out of the eight people I used to hang out with, I was probably the only one who knew why Lego was the most ingenious toy in the world. Why post-pubescent kids aren’t tied up and forced to read this novel, I will never understand.

shepard_riverWind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame

If I could only read one novel for the rest of my life, I’d choose Wind In The Willows. Hell, if I could only watch one animated series for the rest of my life, I’d still choose the animated version that Doordashan used to telecast on Sunday mornings. A bunch of lazy memories come to mind when I think about Mr Toad, Mr Badger, Ratty and the rest. Buttery chicken soup, post hair-trimming bath, the really, really loud chirping of birds, and such. All those things that were once a part of Sunday mornings during my family’s brief stay at one of Chennai’s most secretive post-modern spots – Guruswamy Road. While the television series kickstarted the love I have since had for this idyllic tale, Mr Kenneth Grahame’s novel made sure that it blossomed into a loving cancerous cyst. I swear, if there was one author whose skeletal corpse I could dig up and sing praises for the life it once held and inspired, it’d be Mr. Grahame.

waspfactoryWasp Factory by Iain Banks

The story that 16-year-old Frank Cauldhame tells us is a tortured one. His brother has just escaped from a mental asylum and his impending return to the town where Frank and his dad have been staying for years is one that is anticipated with an equal proportion of trepidation and eagerness. And of course, there are those wasps…dam winged devils, which accidentally keep giving him fucked-up epiphanies to endure and ponder about. And we, the reader, get pretty messed-up reading about it too. Darkness, darkness…you have found your lonesome pillow in the Wasp Factory and its creator, Iain Banks.

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