READING: Recently & Currently

Recently finished: CANDIDA by G. B. Shaw and Currently Reading: Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer

BOOK REVIEW: THE MINISTRY OF PAIN by Dubravka Ugrešić

The Ministry of Pain tells the story of Tanja Lucic, an exile from Yugoslavia and a lecturer in Serbo-Croatian literature at the University of Amsterdam. I was interested in reading a story about another culture and world view that was so outside of my own. In the long run though I felt like the story didn’t really go anywhere.

Dubravka Ugrešić, a literary scholar and a writer, tries to capture dolorous outcome of people trying to make a living in an alien surrounding, and her main character, Tanja Lucic, shows a similarity with the author of sharing an ideology of anti-war. Tanja’s class is filled with other Yugoslav exiles, not much younger than she, who have found temporary refuge in the Department of Slavonic Languages. Rather than to teach literature, Tanja nudges the students to reconstruct their pasts by writing essays that indulge their “Yugonostalgia” and their memories of Yugoslavia’s culture and disintegration in war.

As the plot which seems real, paces slowly, and it weakens. Though the author has honestly tries to capture the reality through her characters and as her words flow, the book becomes a bit  boring with the lack of pace. I am not judging it to be a true story though it is very closely related to reality, but if it’s a fiction, as mentioned it in the book , it should not lack the characteristics of a fiction. Neither has it the characteristics of a non-fiction.

But I am not saying that you must not read the book. It’s up to you. To explore something new, to feel a different emotion, to understand the consequences of war and dividing people according to their ethnicity which are not shown on a television or written in a newspaper due to the work of bad human instances, you should grab it. I can honestly testify that the book is a new and different experience to read. Not much to judge.

2.5 out of 5 from me.

MANSFIELD PARK TURNS 200

Mansfield Park turns 200 (as published in 1814) this year. It might not be as popular as Pride and Prejudice but it is worth reading. Whether you are a fan of Jane Austen (and no, you do not need a women’s body to like and read Jane Austen’s books) or not, you should read this one. It will be a good start to become one and explore Austen’s writing.

When I read it, few years back, I was astounded how different this book is from her other works, especially Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. Fanny Price, the main character, her timidity and morality, quite different from the heroines of the other two. They were smart and sensible, but Fanny Price is different. Also, the plot of this book is quite different from what Jane Austen regularly wrote.

The precise book and the character have both receive criticism at a higher rate but that makes me wonder why? In my belief, the character of Fanny Price and the book Mansfield Park, both are very close to reality in comparison to the other two books written by Jane Austen. Fanny’s character is based on realism and on first read she might look too naïve but she is a women of deep convictions.  Some people also say that the character of Fanny is nothing but a sympathetic figure but they also forget about her situation which is tough and how she is never allowed to forget about what an object of charity she is and make her feel from time to time that she is unequal with the people she has been living. The other characterizations, including of Henry Crawford, throughout the book is simple and enjoyable.

The book truly is written by a different Jane Austen as her other books which I find more of the same and the protagonists when compared will have a bit of similarities. I want to congratulate Jane Austen personally on writing Mansfield Park, if I could.

IT’S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

De Profundis is an epistle written by Oscar Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol, to Lord Alfred Douglas. I picked this work as it was recommended by few friends to me, sometime back. Also, it is one the few works written by Oscar Wilde remaining which I have not read.

Well, what are you reading?

NEW BUY- NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND

Notes From the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

HOW I BECAME A READER

When I think back on how I became happily addicted to books and reading, I inevitably focus on three things: my mother, my first buy, and then came “the church of books”: my school’s library.

Mother

The whole credit of my reading habit (which turned out to be an enormous habit), or the gateway to the heaven of books was unlocked by my beautiful mother when I was a kid. I remember when she used to read to me from time to time and when I grew up, she would sit beside me and make me read and understand a lot of things. I can imagine that purely but titles we read together are vague in my memory. Somewhere I read recently that what we are taught in childhood which when becomes a habit, we don’t think twice before performing that action again. And yes, I would say I am always indebted to my mother for making me explore the world through words. Thanks Mom.

My First Buy

The next was when I bought my first book, Ghosts Don’t Eat Potato Chips by Debbie Dadey & Marcia Thornton Jones. I remember I was beaming for weeks whenever I looked at the cover, and the white pages (which now have turned yellow when I last saw it, and yes I still have it somewhere) holding it in my hands, and taking it wherever I went. I was in third standard and I don’t remember reading it wholly. But that book has been a motivation factor in my school days to buy more books.

The Church of Books: the School’s Library

I was never very popular in school, and I was an admittedly easy target for teasing (I didn’t have a very robust vocabulary of curse words, I was small and skinny, and naive). Suffice it to say, I didn’t like many of my classmates. When those kids would roam and run, and chatter and make fun, all day, I would sit in the library and read books. The place was heavenly. All started with a compulsory library class scheduled in between other classes twice a week. But then, thanks to those two lovely librarians, I was allowed to come and sit and read whenever and whatever I like. The combination of auburn colored wooden tables and the plastic chairs, all the sections divided alphabetically, the stale smell of yellow pages, and the dust covered hard bounded books which were not even moved from their positions in a decade. I read them. They were my classmates and taught me about love, relationships, marriage, artistic creation, despair, work, racism, sexism, injustice, freedom, and commitment. I could sit there experience what the books describer and I could travel and see so many beautiful things. Books were my refuge, my comfort, and my teachers.

A BOOK HERE, A BOOK THERE

CALL ME ISHMAEL

MOBY-DICK by Herman Melville

Might start it by next week, lets read what the fuss is all about!