Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Shining - Stephen King

Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control.

As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?

Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel - and that too had begun to shine...


Stephen King

If ever there was one book that made me fear the dark and made my spine tingle with dread, this is it. This book was my third Stephen King novel and his first two books that I read had not gone down well with me. I read Dreamcatcher and Misery before this book and I understood that I have not read the best of Stephen King yet. Amidst this background, The Shining came as a great surprise loaded with horror and terror that can inflict fear on the bravest of hearts.

In his previous two books, I felt Stephen King was beating around the bush a little as he was taking loads of time to get to the main event. I felt that problem resurfacing in this book in the beginning. I still feel Jack's history of alcohol abuse was a little off track to the main plot. However, once the reader toils through a handful of pages and finds the Torrance family locked up in The Overlook for the winter, the action begins and there is not let up in the intensity and the pace from then on.

I'm still amazed how an author can bring fear to the minds of people just by "words". He doesn't get to use visual effects; he doesn't get to use sound effects; he doesn't get to use 'Jump Scare' techniques. All the author has at his disposal are "WORDS". And yet, I must say, the words from the pen of Stephen King has managed to surpass all techniques that a traditional horror movie director employs to scare his/her audience. Perhaps, that is why, the film adaptation of this novel The Shing (Movie) directed by Stanley Kubrick did not impress me as much as the novel did. There are some people who say the movie is better than the book, but I firmly differ from their opinion.

The characters are all well-developed. The Overlook, the haunted hotel is itself a terrific character with a mysterious and horrific past.

The Overlook Hotel(as shown in the movie)

Joey Tribbiani tells what is so great about The Shining
I personally liked Wendy, who struggles to save her son from his father who has fallen into the clutches of the haunted hotel and is slowly going insane. Dick Halloran is another character who leaves a mark in the reader's minds after the book is completed. I liked the fact that there are so few characters so that the reader is not burdened with too much clutter that are not essential to the central plot. King means business in this book.

Remember Joey Tribbiani in Friends, hiding The Shining in the freezer? Well, that is one way to avoid the Overlook haunting you.


"Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters."
"Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win." 
"Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in." 

If you want to be scared out of our wits, this is one book you must never miss. The Overlook is waiting for you! 

Monday, 3 October 2016

A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India.

The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.

As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.

My Thoughts:

This is one book that is bound to leave a lot of readers teary-eyed. Though Rohinton, the author claims this work to be fiction, I wonder if this story was made up. You can still see thousands and thousands of Ishvars and Oms in every nook and corner of India. The book has everything that is impending the nation's development. It speaks about the deep rooted caste system and class differences. It speaks about blind urbanization and the resulting loss of nature and it's resources. It speaks about corruption. It speaks about politics. It speaks about population expansion. It even speaks about feminism. In general, this book IS India for you!

The story is about four  people who are forced to live together in a major city due to various circumstances. Ishvar and Om are untouchable cobblers turned tailors who have come to the city in search of a living. Dina Dalal, a middle aged widow hires them to work for a major Export company. She also rents one of her rooms in her apartment to her friend's son, Maneck, who has come unwillingly to the city from his home in the hills to pursue his education. Thus begins the extraordinary story of the four people and how life takes them on a harsh journey spanning poverty, illness, hunger, injustice, cruelty, prejudice, depression and misfortunes.

The story is grim - there is no getting around that fact. There is no happy ending. But everything is real. I wonder why this book did not win the Booker prize though it was shortlisted. This book is a gem. More people need to read this book. It helps to understand the ground reality prevailing in the country and also opens their eyes against their prejudices. The author has a knack of making a 600 odd page book feel like a breeze while you read. The author does not frustrate the readers by indulging in unnecessary narration or description, nor does he use complex words that render a dictionary indispensable. Instead he relies on his sharp wit and to-the-point narration to create a vivid picture and keep the readers glued to the book.

A MUST-READ book for everyone!

Golden Quotes:

"The human face has limited space. If you fill it with laughter there will be no room for crying."
"But nobody ever forgot anything, not really, though sometimes they pretended, when it suited them. Memories were permanent. Sorrowful ones remained sad even with the passing of time, yet happy ones could never be recreated - not with the same joy. Remembering bred its own peculiar sorrow. It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain."
"After all, our lives are but a sequence of accidents - a clanking chain of chance events. A string of choices, casual or deliberate, which add up to that one big calamity we call life." 

About the Author:

Rohinton Mistry

Rohinton Mistry is considered to be one of the foremost authors of Indian heritage writing in English. Residing in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, Mistry belongs to the Parsi Zoroastrian religious minority.

Mistry’s first novel, Such a Long Journey (1991), brought him national and international recognition. Mistry’s subsequent novels have achieved the same level of recognition as his first. His second novel, A Fine Balance (1995), concerns four people from Bombay who struggle with family and work against the backdrop of the political unrest in India during the mid-1970s. The book won Canada’s Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. It was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for the Booker Prize.(Source: Goodreads)

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Rise of Social Media - Keyboard Warriors and the Online Activists

          Ever since the advent of social media, the lifestyle of common man has changed drastically. Each and every one of us has become a judge. We sit comfortably in our offices and pass judgments on people whom we have never even met. When every man has an outlet to express his feelings and opinion in the form of social media, it is more important that one chooses one's words wisely and in a more mature manner. With more and more people becoming keyboard warriors and online activists, I believe it is very important to distinguish between the true and the hoax.

          Online trolls and abusers use their keyboards as swords to kill any opposition for the cause that they might be preaching. People hiding behind the cloak of anonymity are beginning to wreak havoc everywhere. An actress who posts a picture of herself with his close friend is presumed to be a husband cheater and is abused. A sportsperson who posts a picture of himself having his dinner is lashed at for not donating to the poor. Each and every word a celebrity says is twisted and skewed, every sentence is construed to hate religious sentiments and people are getting offended easily. The laying bare of each and every individual's personal life on the online platform have lent an air of intolerance and insecurity among people.

         Men and women keep crying for 'Change' without actually doing anything substantial for the change to materialize. They don't worry if they come across as hypocritical, all they require is that they should register their opinion on almost anything and everything. A man sharing a spectacular video against Child Labour thinks he has done his bit for the society while he forgets the 11 year old boy mending shoes outside his office. There are numerous such instances where people have put up a fake face on the Internet.

          I'm not trying to say such online medium provides only threats to man as a whole. A lot of incidents have been witnessed where the social sites have been used in a productive manner. The December 1, 2015 Chennai Flood is a typical example where the Internet made sure that help reached people even in remote areas as soon as possible. The social media sites served as a platform where people in need posted their grievances and got immediate assistance and relief. That was one incident where humanity rose above the debris of inequality and social media played a crucial role in the overall scheme of things. However, such display of humanity is often marred by terrible incidents where people could have acted more judiciously. A few months back, a young girl was forced to commit suicide by online abusers who kept passing nasty comments on her online page.

          By the look of things, it seems like the Internet and social media are here to stay. As in every other case, the matchstick has been placed in man's hands. It's up to us to either light a candle or burn the house down.

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