These Circuses that sweep through the Landscape by Tejaswini Apte-Rahm #BookReview

These Circuses that sweep through the Landscape by Tejaswini Apte-Rahm #BookReview

Many of my friends and fellow bloggers stay away from short stories.  But I enjoy reading them.  Writing a short story is an art in itself.  It is difficult to create a world, pull in the reader and make him care for the protagonist in so few words.  But a good story writer does exactly that.  And when you read a good story, you want to linger a little longer,  to stay in the same brief world and savour the beauty of it.  It should leave you with more questions as you begin to care and feel for the characters.

Tejaswini Apte-Rahm’s book is a delight.   The writing is top-notch. It reminded me of Jerry Pinto’s writing.   The book has 10 short stories.  Each story is unique.  All the stories are excellent.  But I will highlight the stories I loved.

The Mall :  A rich female shopper gets lost in a shopping mall.  She goes to the mall to buy things she doesn’t want which is a pea colored dress.  She gets it and then decides to get pea colored shoes to go with it.  She gets lost in the mall trying to find a way out.  She is directed by people to go to the 5th floor or the 3rd floor or to find a door at the end of another shop as there are no other exit doors.  Unable to go home,  she lives in the mall for months.  Since she has money,  her daily wants are taken care of.   She calls her friend who is in the mall to rescue her,  but she too leaves after some time.  The shopper then follows someone who is on the way out only to be roughed up for stalking.  She even feigns a medical emergency assuming the ambulance people will take her out,  but fails again.  The narrator’s antics are funny, desperate and sad at times.  You are reminded of the “poor little rich girl”.   She has all the money in the world to buy whatever she wants,  yet no one loves her or misses her enough to come and look for her.   Does it remind you of Facebook and Twitter followers?   Continue reading

We should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have to travel to a different city this month for work.  And my first thought was what will I wear to the meeting?  I was more worried about what time I will reach there,  where will I stay,  will my clothes be in synch with the trend there.  I realised,  I did exactly what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her book ‘We should all be Feminists’.  If I was a male,  I would have prepared my notes,  set up my schedule for the meeting.  But,  as a female,  I thought about that last.  Isn’t that how we are all wired to think?  Isn’t it a bit unfair that we have to worry about our appearance,  an external, superfluous facade while the men can just go in crumpled suits and bad hair and get the work done?

We should all be Feminists is an essay prepared by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,  a Nigerian author, for a TedX talk in 2012.  It was published as a 52 pages book in 2014.  You should all read it, atleast once.   Or listen to the talk which is available on the net.

Chimamanda talks about the differences we apply when treating women,  just because they are women.  She says in her own words, ‘by being born female,  she is guilty of something.’    We women are victims of our own society,  in the way we are raised.  It is in the way we are asked to dress, not to appear too smart in front of a prospective groom,  look down when we talk,  do not raise your voice against men.  Well, we can have whole chapters on honour killing, female foeticide,  child marriages, sati.  Many of our laws also do not grant equal freedom or financial security to women.   We even have some famous phrases in Malayalam like, “when men are talking,  there is no need of a woman to give her views or concern as it is insulting to the men.”.  In fact,  when searching for a bride in the family,  we are put off if we have to speak with a woman even over the phone.  Comments like,  “the woman seems to be the decision maker in the house”  is passed and looked down at.  We have to put on symbols to show that we are married like the mangal sutra,  sindoor.  What about the men?  They do not have to declare their marital status so blatantly.  One of my woman friends started earning more than her husband.  I remember her mother was so concerned that the poor husband will feel bad about it.   Bad for what?  For being successful? For having an intelligent, educated and well-earning wife?  If it was the man,  the woman would have been proud about it and may have flaunted it.

Chimamanda has pointed out that we are doing a great “disservice”  not only in the way girls are brought up but also boys.  She says, ““We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them.  We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.”  As the mother of two boys,  I whole-heartedly agree with her.  Boys are automatically expected to study harder and earn better than their spouses.  It is mandatory that they should be a success financially.  It pressurizes the boys to get better jobs without giving a thought to what they want to be.  There is not much of creative freedom for them as well.  They have to be these aggressive,  strong and successful human beings who have to protect and support the females.  Why?  We do not want to be protected or supported.  Just let us be.   The recent suicide of a young man shook me.  He was successful in his studies and seemed a gentle soul.  But,  he was a failure in getting a job.  Ultimately he gave up.  If it was a female,  he would have worried about just getting married instead of feeling like a failure as she has the choice to remain unemployed.  But a man keeping house is somehow considered inferior or unsuccessful.  I wish we can stop gender stereo typing and let people be.  It is bad for the boys,  but worse for the girls.

When young, we give the girls wings to fly and tell them to reach for the stars.  As she grows older,  we tell her to fly slower than the boys and only take those stars left behind by the boys.  Further ahead,  we also tell her that she should not go for the stars. She should be glad that she has a place on earth.  Every day we kill her dreams one by one.

This book is full of similar thoughts,  things we take for granted never realising that we are contributing to the gender problems.  Read or hear this book.  Let it make you uncomfortable and change your ways in bringing up the next generation of boys and girls.  Highly recommended for all.

 

#MondayMusings
Review : Uncanny Magazine Issue #14 January / February

Review : Uncanny Magazine Issue #14 January / February

Keeping in synch with my theme of ‘Discover’,  when @uncannyMagazine asked for reviewers,  I jumped in without thinking.  The editor, Lynne,  immediately sent me a soft copy of the magazine.  I am so glad I decided to do this review.  The magazine has been very different from what I normally read.  The magazine has a set of short stories, non-fiction essays, poems and author interviews.   It is also of the genre fantasy/YA and everything in between.  It is also stories from and about the LGBTQ world.

I must admit,  it was everything I never read.  But thanks to this magazine,  I promise to not shy away from similar content.  I read some amazing short stories and poems.  I wish I could write like them.

Let me start with the cover.  It is simply magical.  It is beautiful and attracts interest.  The magazine tells me that it is done by award-winning cover artist John Picacio.    It sets the tone for the magazine.

  • Bodies Stacked like Firewood by Sam J. Miller

    The story is about Cyd who has committed suicide.  Cyd was in love with the narrator.  But, in the narrator’s own words, ‘Both locked our hearts up tight’.  This simple statement tells the crux of the story.  The words create vivid images.  Cyd and his eccentricities are clearly brought out in the initial few words.  He seemed to have a lot of friends or followers.   The have created Cyd Cards in his memory which contain quotes said by Cyd.  His parents think he is weird.  Cyd wants his body to be burnt as he had a lifelong fascination for fire.  His parents don’t seem to be aware of this and have the body sent for funeral preparations.  No one understood Cyd like the narrator.  I loved the way everything is told through the narrator’s eyes.  He is also discovering many aspects of Cyd just like the reader.  The story has a parallel layer comparing with The Great Gatsby.  The writing is superb and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this short story.  I wanted to immediately tell the writer that I loved this story, and I did via twitter.  All the artifacts have contact details of the authors.

    Monster Girls don’t cry by A.Merc.Rustad :

    Again a beautiful story with a great message.  It talks about monster girls who have weird features like horns, wings,  lips in their palms.  They try to blend in with society by sawing off the horns which keep on growing,  trimming the wings.  It is a bloody activity and painful.  The monster girl, Phoebe, is unable to understand what is wrong with her.  Yet,  she tries to blend in.  Her sister Maria has more grotesque features which doesn’t help her to blend in and as a result stays locked in her home.  It is a beautiful story when Phoebe finally realises that she need not blend in. It is an allegorical story with deep insights.  Well told.  There is also an interview with A. Merc Rustad in the end where she talks about this story.  I am a fan now.

  • Goddess, Worm By Cassandra Khaw :

    In this story,  the author uses the SilkWorm which dies to create Silk which is so coveted by all.  The worm is trying to win her case.  She doesn’t want to transform.  She just wants to be as she is,  but the others who think they know better,  do not agree.  On the contrary,  they tell her that she is being elevated as it means more silkworms to be raised.   I loved the way this story is structured by putting points one, two, three. Sample this,

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Second Chance at Forever by Summerita Rhayne #BookReview

Second Chance at Forever by Summerita Rhayne #BookReview

Author : Summerita Rhayne

Version : Kindle

Genre : Romance

Source : Amazon Kindle 

Publisher : Self Published

Second Chance at Forever is a beautiful, mature love story with loads of romance and passion put in.  It it was a Mills & Boon Romance,  it would have surely been a red cover.  This book took me back to my teenage years which was full of Mills & Boon Romance.  Well,  that was the only stuff available at affordable rates from the local bookstore.  My mom did worry that I was reading too much of this stuff trying to imagine the story looking at the scandalous covers of the books.

Its been a long time since I read a Mills & Boon.  I still have over a dozen of those which is in my TBR pile.  It is like watching a Hindi movie.  We know what the story will be.  The hero and heroine will fight in the beginning.  Then fall in love followed by a split. And finally,  they will realize that despite all this,  they still love each other.  The movie will perhaps add a villain or two to keep it spicy.   Continue reading

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Author : Yaa Gyasi 

Version : Kindle

Genre : Fiction, Historical Fiction

Source : NetGalley.com

Publisher : Penguin

Pages : 320

 

Homegoing is the debut novel of Yaa Gyasi.  The book takes us through the lives of two half sisters Effia and Esi who are not aware of the other’s existence.  Effia, the beauty, was born to Maame when she was a slave of Corjo,  deep in the forests of Ghana belonging to the Fante tribe.  At her birth,  Maame sets the village on fire and runs away.  Corjo saves the child and hands her over to one of his wives Baaba.   Corjo fixes the marriage of Effia with the leader of their tribe.  But Baaba has other plans.  She plots and gets Effia married to the British Colonial James who owns the castle and runs the slave trade.   Continue reading