Month: December 2015

Here’s one for Halloween

This is my review of Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin.

From what I’ve heard, the movie based on this book is something of a cult classic. Honestly, I just picked this one up because I wanted something quick-I’m way behind on my Goodreads book goal for the year. It was surprisingly good; I expected something much more ‘pulp fiction’.

Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse are a young newly-married couple looking for a house in NYC. They fall in love with a four bedroom apartment and immediately move in, despite its history of bad luck and strange occurrences. Rosemary wants to have children, but Guy is an upcoming actor and wants to wait until he makes it big on stage.

They befriend an elderly couple who live in the next apartment. Guy, in particular, becomes very close to them and their circle of strange, but well-meaning, friends. He agrees that it is time for them to have a child, and Rosemary quickly becomes pregnant. Soon after, he gets his big break when another actor mysteriously goes blind and he’s called in as a replacement.

Rosemary is severely ill for the first few months of her pregnancy. She loses weight and craves raw meat. She grows increasingly suspicious of her kindly neighbours, but is unable to pinpoint any malicious intent. She eventually works out the plot, but cannot escape in time.

What I liked- The story is refreshingly unique and subtle. Makes for a quick read. Was successful in creeping me out- what more could I ask from a novel of this genre?

What I didn’t like- The overly simplistic plot would be more appropriate for a short story. As it is, most of the plot focuses on ‘setting the scene’ for the final revelation. It probably makes for a brilliant movie, though.

4/5. Recommended for rainy nights when you want to spook yourself out.

Confession: I’m not as free as I once was, so I’ve resorted to queuing posts weeks/months in advance. Shouldn’t make too much of a difference, I hope.

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Movie Adaptations, Morals in Children’s Books, etc

Firstly:¬†Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility movie.

I haven’t read this classic by Jane Austen, despite liking Pride and Prejudice. But Emma Thompson won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for this one, and I wanted to understand what exactly goes into adapting a screenplay. I mean, Austen did all the work already didn’t she? Plus, it’s Ang Lee’s first English language movie and he is all famous now.

I’ve concluded that there are only a dozen active British actors. You see them once in a while in Hollywood movies, but whenever any big budget Brit movie is made, they congregate into one star-studded lineup. This is no different. Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney), Kate Winslet (from that sinking ship movie) and Hugh Grant (from all those chick flicks) play the main roles. And Alan Rickman (Professor Snape) is one of the romantic heroes!!

The story has the typical Austen-esque drama- “He talked to me, but he is already engaged!”. But the characters are not as cartoon-y as the book, I think.

All in all, a well made movie especially if you’re a fan of the genre or can appreciate the subtleties of good direction and acting.

Secondly: CS Lewis’s Narnia series, and what he really meant.

The Narnia series is widely accepted to be a Christian allegory, with King Aslan playing the role of Jesus. The question, then, is what does Susan’s situation signify? As a kid, it never bothered me one way or another. She enters the magic kingdom along with her brothers and sisters, and in due turn, is banned from it when she becomes ‘too old’. However, she does not return at the end of the series even though her older brother Peter does. This is attributed to the fact that she has ‘discovered lipstick’ and is interested in socializing. Which is still okay, until you realize that she’s being punished pretty severely for these ‘mistakes’- her entire family dies in a train crash at the end of book seven. Harsh. Reddit has discussed different interpretations¬†here, give it a look if you’re familiar with the series and curious. As always, Reddit’s infamous hive-mind has come up with some amazing stuff.

Fantasy-Crime-Thriller-Romance-Mystery

Whew, quite a mouthful. This is my review of Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher. As the title says, this is a very mixed-genre book that’ll appeal to anyone who isn’t a literary snob.

Harry Dresden is a wizard. In the mortal world, he makes ends meet by offering his services as a private investigator. He’s also a consultant for the police force, working on cases that have supernatural involvement. Think Psych with magic.

One day he receives a house call from a woman whose husband has gone missing without a trace. Almost simultaneously, he’s called on to investigate a gruesome double murder.

The best part of this book is its fast pace. Both the mysteries (plus a false framing, some flirting, comedy, and a spirited demon) are wrapped up in under 150 pages. The literary equivalent of a 20 minute sitcom episode. It’ll take longer than 20 minutes to read it, but you get the idea.

The worst part of this book is its predictability. No part of the story will evoke even the mildest surprise. It’s about as original as a Hardy Boys book. But I’d love to see this series on the small screen.

4/5, would read the rest of the series if super bored.

 

The Pursuit of Happyness

The world is your oyster. It’s up to you to find the pearls.

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Chris Gardner’s life is amazing, and boy, he writes about it soulfully in his book, The Pursuit of Happyness. A small part of this book was adapted into the very famous movie which goes by the same name.

There is no need for a plot summary of a book that’s made into a movie. But as a person who enjoys reading many folds more than watching a movie, I feel obligated to urge you to read this book if you liked the movie. You will love the book. The movie has a good deal of Hollywood to it –¬† for instance, the day-care for Chris Jr wasn’t as bad as they showed it to be in the movies. And the life of Chris Gardner as a child, which was fully skipped in the movie, is much more forceful than I’d expected.

There are pieces of the book that shocked me. But I was soothed by the way Chris handles his sticky situations. As a 13 year old he saw more hardship in life with the dexterity of a winner, than anyone I know has.

The fervor with which he yearns for a better life for his son and for himself (because Moms said he could) is so high pitched that goosebumps weren’t altogether unexpected.

I don’t usually use a pencil when reading fiction. But this book is an outlier. There were simply too many wise words that needed deep pondering, and which I intend to go back to. For instance, there’s this: “No one else can take away your legitimacy or give you your legitimacy if you don’t claim it yourself.“For anyone that has felt the pangs of self doubt and low self esteem, this should be like a breath of fresh air. And it was for me.

The Pursuit of Happyness is an easy read, but also an engaging one. It has made me happy. In my pursuit of happiness, I’m glad I was able to read this book on the way. 4/5