Monthly Archives: December 2017

One more year passed by in blink and here we stood again at same conjecture to review gone year, wearing reading glasses with courtesy of goodreads.com.  Passed year in terms of reading could be summarized in short as “the year in prose”. Where I still clung to tried-n-tested authors for modern literature; number of classics raised in significance.

I deliberately set reading challenge to one book per month so not to include short, anything on the way to reading list, just to complete the challenge. I had inclination of devoting time for classics. And reading classics can take time. Still I was ahead by 3 books at end of the year 2017.

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Let’s see what was hit and what was miss among these.

Book with most pages I read (Frankly speaking completed) in current year was “The complete collection of Sherlock Holmes”. It was long reading project. The book contains all the four novellas and almost entire collection of stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Though started reading long time back, I could only conjure up enough time to return the salutation to Holmes “Last Bow” in the year of 2017.

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There are two candidates for “most surprising and enlightening read”. One is old world Russian literary classic “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov and the other modern world literary supreme “The Voice of Fire” by Alan Moore. Let me clear one thing. Lolita is controversial. But there is not a single word, prose or snippet which could be classified as vulgar or titillating. It is masterfully crafted in monologues. And served with one of the best prose writing competing to Charles Dickens. I had never had such eliciting experience of reading the word-formation in such delight.

 

When we are talking about prose writing, then let’s not forget only modern era master class in prose writing or any kind of writing; Alan Moore. “Voice of Fire” was his first novel after very successful writing history in Graphic Novels (From Hell, Watchmen, V for Vendetta are just few gems). Moore experimented heavily with first novel in terms of writing were interconnected stories’ timelines vary from initiation of mankind to Alan Moore himself; incorporating various historical events in process. He had started something called Geo-psychology where he traces the history and events of particular place and put it in more weird, contextual, and sometimes magical view. Not spending much time as it will take forever to discuss Alan Moore.

“You can always count on a murderer for fancy prose style” – Back cover of Lolita

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Other notable reads are “1984” from George Orwell (Again classic) and more Russian literary classic “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy. One short, depressing Orwellian account of dystopian world  which has started “All seeing Big Brother” concept; while other was sprawling storytelling covering Russian aristocracy and class divide intermixed with love, family values, relationships and marriages (along with issues).

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In terms of Graphic Novels, it was dominated by well-knowns. Great was the wine soaked narrative of Eddie Campbell on existence of Greek gods in modern times in “Bacchus”. At the same, though I’m crazy of such stuff, to-much-meta references has killed my interest in Grant Morrison in ” The Multiversity”. While Alan Moore’s “Top 10” was pleasingly light read, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier” (again by Alan Moore) was fun take on his own brilliantly conceived original TLEG.

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In modern novels, “Metro 2035″ was satisfying but not as much as the previous two installments of Metro universe. ” “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”  was unnecessary addition to Lisbeth’s (Novel’s protagonist) journey. Dan Simmons “The Fifth Heart” was as I expected but still nowhere near Holmes magic created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Most disappointing read for me was “Black Water Lilies”. Though it might be good for others but I had somehow “guessed” whole crux of the twist and story arc from very beginning and hence just dragged myself to complete it.

That’s it for gone year of 2017. While I am slowly but progressively sucked into more of literary classics, getting into more prose reading, once a while I’ll get my hands on modern popular. With few more Russian classics in-line along with “most diverse read I had ever done”, coming year is going to be really sensuous and enthralling.

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Happy Reading. (And also new Year 🙂

PS: Ready player One was not meant to be present on “to read” list in near future, even after promising trailer of upcoming movie by none other than Steven Spielberg. But rifling through its pages in one of the book outlet at Las Vegas airport, I came across something which couldn’t be ignored. A statement; defining all geeks and nerds  and book itself a love letter to all grownups like me who spent their childhood in 80s (and 90s and 00s ….)with videogames. It was instant buy. And more rapid read. So this last-minute update changed above stat by +1 book.
Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable – Ready Player One.

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Chicago Blues

Only three and half hours drive away, Chicago was neglected like a rotting flower which was never meant to be visited when whole lot of other places flashing their most beautiful visage to attract visitors like me till one weekend I reservedly complied to forceful request of my friend to accompany him in touring Chicago.

Though adorning one of the most memorable skyline and one of the tallest structure in the world, I was skeptical about liking it altogether. It was never meant to have blog on it.Continuing above analogy of rotting flower, sometimes you need a different pair of glasses like UV spectrum used by some of the insects and birds to visualize the true nature of it ( Some birds and insects use UV spectrum to choose flower for visitation which is not visibly evident to us as our eyes evolved only to be useful in visible spectrum).

Visiting the Willis Tower (Formerly known as Sears Tower) and witnessing spectacular night vista of the Chicago from its 103rd floor glass boxes was just tipping my “interest measure” above 5 on the scale of 10 till I observed something which I shamefully ignorant of. Having donuts as pre-dinner energy food at roadside deli late evening, Chicago downtown looked bit familiar. Imitating sodium vapor lamp, lampposts were feverishly illuminating underway which was surrounded by buildings with metro tracks passing overhead. Not at much height but just looming there as ominous steel serpent ready to devour anything in the way; crisscrossing the city with “rattle” of passing tram periodically. I imagined drive under it (which was not possible at all considering my under-driving skills). It had that deja-vu moment but if I had not experienced it then it means it had to be from my active imagination fueled by movie scene. And if I remember it so soundly it means it has to be from The Dark Knight.

The movie I so adorned and in love of that I have seen it so many times that I left counting after counter reached to double figure. How could I be so ignorant about its shooting locations? Chicago was there on my “liking chart” almost approaching 10, just after that particular moment.

So we visited other places like Shedd aquarium, Navy Pier, had experienced beautiful Chicago skyline, tried to be creative at Cloud Gate structure at Millennium park, had Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza and also lost in countless “Diwali” like illumination of city itself at night from Willis Tower which is evident from photos herewith.

But still for me the moment which instilled the “that’s what I want” moment was the self-realization that city which I was visiting was no other than Gotham city itself.

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Navy Pier