Monthly Archives: July 2019

Have you heard of The Wind Done Gone?

The Wind Done Gone was a novel written by Alice Randall which tells the story of Gone With the Wind from the point of view of Cynara, Scarlett O’hara’s half sister, Mammy’s daughter. She’s a slave too. The names of all major characters, other than Mammy, have been changed. Tara becomes Tata, Scarlett becomes Other, her father, Gerald O Hara becomes Planter, her mom becomes Lady and Ashley becomes The Dreamy Gentleman. Like Scarlett she also falls in love with ‘R’ and after he leaves her, Cynara becomes his mistress.

We all know what happened after the book was published. Margaret Mitchell’s estate sued the author and after much litigation a settlement was reached. The book was branded a ‘parody’ and all but disappeared from public memory.

There are other spin offs to Gone With the Wind. There’s Rhett Butler’s People, which traces Rhett’s journey and there’s Scarlett, the official sequel to the book. None of them could come close to Gone With the Wind.

While spin offs, sequels and series have almost become a norm, I haven’t come across many novels that have tried to tackle a story from a different perspective. Of course copyright issues might be a deterrent.

Some authors like Chitra Banerjee and Kavita Kane have explored other POVs in Indian epics and I’ve loved most of them.

I find different POVs fascinating. For instance, I’d love to read a book from the point of view of an upperclass wife in The Handmaid’s Tale. What did she feel as she watched her husband bed another woman? Did she, even for one small moment, feel a pang of sympathy for the Handmaid? Or did jealousy and insecurity chase away all other feelings?

I’d love to read Rebecca from Maxim’s point of view. The backstory leading up to her murder and then his encounter with the new Mrs de Winter would have been quite a roller-coaster.

So tell me, which popular book would you like to read from an alternate point of view?

Advertisements

Ghosts and Writers #BookBytes 12

I am currently reading Eating Wasps by Anita Nair. Here’s a quote that caught my eye, specially as a writer.

“Ghosts and writers are more alike than you think. We can be what you want us to be. We can hear your thoughts even if you don’t tell us. We can read the silences and shape your stories as if they happened to us. And I was both: a ghost and a writer.

Eating Wasps by Anita Nair

I firmly believe that observation is the most important tool of a writer. Do you agree? Do you see the stories behind people, even strangers? You might not know the stories but do you shape them in your imagination?

When you’re travelling in a bus or a train do you watch the man standing with an impassive face and understand the turmoil of his mind? Do you look at the vivacious group of giggling teenagers and smile at their naive thoughts? Do you watch a couple sitting together and know the relationship they share?

Do you weave stories about the people you see around you?

***********

If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for August 6th.

Ravan: Enemy of Aryavarta #BookReview

Book: Ravan: Enemy of Aryavarta
Author: Amish Tripathi

I have a soft spot for this series by Amish Ramayan series because it was with the first book  Scion of Ikshvaku that I kicked off this blog. I loved that one. I was curious about how Amish would handle this multilinear narrative and that was what made me pick up Sita and now Ravan: Enemy of Aryavarta.

The story

The book traces the life of Ravan, son of Rishi Vishrava and Kaikesi. Disliked by his father and not particularly fond of his mother Ravan, is a lonely child. He has a streak of cruelty that makes him torture small animals and watch them die.

If he has one tender place in his heart, it is for his baby brother Kumbhakaran. Ravan leaves his father’s ashram with his  mother, his uncle Mareech and Kumbha to protect his (Kumbha’s) life.

He knows he is made for great things and he sets out to achieve what is rightfully his, Kumbha and Mareech by his side. From a small-time smuggler he turns into a pirate and powerful trader. Unfettered by the values and principles that hamper others he forges ahead.

However, there is one pure, unsullied memory from his childhood that refuses to leave him – a face, a voice that could potentially steer him away from his reckless path. He seeks out that face but on the verge of turning over a new leaf it is snatched away from him. Filled with rage, he unleashes it on the Sapt Sindhu. Ravan thus emerges as the quintessential villain. He challenges the authority of Kubaera the businessman ruler of Lanka and displaces him to become king.

As he notches up victory after victory he is unaware that he is part of a larger plan, a cog in the wheel rolling towards a greater goal, orchestrated by the great rishi Vishwamitra. 

Ravan was a disappointment

First there’s the voice of Amish. He speaks the language of the millennials and that gets jarring, specially in a mythological setting (Remember Hanu Bhaiya in Sita?). I get that it’s his style and I did love Meluha though it had the same voice. Perhaps it might have something to do with the fact that I’ve grown up listening to the Ramayan and so find it tough to adjust to this pop-version.

My biggest complaint however is that the book turns plain boring in bits. There were too many and too detailed explanations and descriptions – of the Sapt Sindhu, the caste dynamics, the trading system, of traditions and palaces. There are too few dialogues, slackening the pace of the story.

Then there’s the story itself. Amish is known to give his own twist to every tale. I’ve liked his twists, I’ve liked how they tie in neatly with the original familiar story. However here, without giving out spoilers, all I’ll say is that Ravan as an angry lover-boy didn’t seem believable at all, more fantasy than mythology.

Then there’s the reference to Sabarimala. In his previous books he brought in references to a gory rape and then Jallikattu, this time it was Sabarimala. Perhaps that’s an attempt to weave in current events but it seems like a forced addition to the narrative.

The saving grace was the portrayal of Kumbhkaram – the endearing, good-natured giant. He is Ravan’s conscience and emerges (almost) as the hero of the book.

Also, I’m a little curious how Amish will take the story forward now that Ravan knows who Sita is. I’m hoping with all the war-action the next one won’t be a disappointment.

Perhaps the author should stick with lesser-known mythological re-tellings. He certainly has the knack for bringing alive mythological settings, of building up strong characters and of springing surprises.

Last thought: Read it only if, like me, you’ve committed yourself to the series. You might find yourself skipping pages though.

Memories #BookBytes 11

“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.” 

Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

That’s the quote I’ve picked today. Isn’t it a beautiful thought?

The big moments of our lives remain etched in our memory for a long long time – winning a race at school, that first job, your wedding day, holding your baby for the very first time – those are the big ones, the ones we’re not likely to forget.

What I’d like to bottle, however, are the small, innocuous moments when life seems perfect for that one day or one hour, even though there’s nothing special about it.

I would pick out moments from my childhood – when we went on one of our precious few vacations to a hill-station and climbed a mountain peak then sang our way down with dried leaves crunching beneath our feet. I’d bottle up memories of freezing winter days when we’d come back from school and mom would hand us warm freshly ironed clothes to change into or a cold glass of lemonade on a hot May afternoon.

I’d bottle up this weekend when the kids and I snuggled together and watched Hunger Games while it rained outside, or when we sat out in the balcony studying together or even now as I sit writing this post on a cool cloudy day with sparrows chirping at my window.

A million happy moments disappear undocumented into the labyrinths of our memory, those are the ones I’d like to keep bottled up.

What are the memories that you’d like to bottle up?

***********

If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for July 16th.