In the past, a character like Offred would have made my blood boil. I would be silently seething as I read and screaming at her in my head to do something. “Stop looking at the flowers and mooning about the weather! Stragegize!” would be my constrant refrain. But not this time.
It is funny how fiction introduces me to myself so often. I have changed and this change is visible in the way I reacted to Offred and her tale. I accepted as I read that some times you are a hero, a fighter, a warrior and some times it takes all you’ve got to simply survive.
This book while thought-provoking was highly disturbing and uncomfortable to the point of making my skin crawl. Mainly because despite its bizarre world, it has possibility on its side.
As I read, it began to dawn on me how easy it would be to render someone like me powerless. One minute I matter and the next my entire life, beliefs, everything I hold dear becomes inconsequential. And there would be nothing much I would be able to do about it.
The sense of helplessness is palpable and as I went along with Offred on her journey I felt it. The lack of information, inability to find out anything or change it felt like a stark contrast to the click gratification for anything and everything.
The understanding, not just mere intellectual knowledge but real knowing in your bones kind of understanding is difficult. To do that is to confront a situation again and again so that real learning can happen.
It was a glimmer of this understanding that came to me in the course of this story. Not everything can be changed. Not everything is fixable. I am only superficially in control of my life. All I can do is hope and try.
At one point in the book, the narrator says, “I wish this story were different. I wish it were more civilized. I wish it showed me in a better light…” this about sums it up.
In the description this book has been labeled a gripping psychological thriller though I believe this is quite a stretch. It is actually extremely slow paced with barely any major twists along the way or in the end.
But if you were to read it merely as an exploration into human nature and human relationships then the book is not a bad read. The bit I really enjoyed was how Harrison has created a sense of always keeping the reader out of the loop of what is really going on with the characters. Half formed thoughts, a steadfast shying away from self analysis, imtentionally or unintetionally burying oneself in the minutiae of routine life are hallmarks of Harrison’s characters. It is impossible to not feel a wall surrounding the protagonists of this book that the reader can never penetrate. We have all met people of this type. They seem normal on the surface but there is a sense of something missing. And knowing that maybe this person isn’t aware of it either and doesn’t even want to be made aware.
Other than that I enjoyed all the information about psychological theories etc. peppered throughout the book. My only gripe was that I would have liked the book a lot better and not felt an immense disappointment had I not been led to believe that this was a thriller with a massive twist which never came.
Some stories are written in such a way that their words penetrate your skin to go straight through to your bones and into the very marrow of your being. As soon as I read the first two pages of thi…
Source: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Often expectations get set even before the first page of the book is opened. Usually the attempt to give an idea of what the book is about using marketing blurbs, the genre of the book, the cover o…
Source: Evading the Shadows by Rajesh Iyer
I have decided to participate in this challenge as I love to read Indian writing. I think this will be a great opportunity to discover more Indian writers and also spread the word about my favourite Indian writers. I think about one book a month so 12 books will be my target for this challenge.
The story is fairly simple. Three editors, very smart bordering on genius, read esoteric material for their publisher. They read books by people they have dubbed “Diabolicals”. These diabolicals write about secret societies over the ages. Templars, Illuminati, Rosicruscians, Masons, Neo Templars, Jesuits, everyone features in these books. There are mystical ceremonies, initiation rites, many unbalanced, bordering on crazy, characters. In the midst of all these magical, mystical things Belbo, Diotallevi and Casaubon are the only sane voices. And then they decide to have some fun with all the vast information they have gathered on all these cults over the years. And we all know how that usually turns out, just harmless fun.
For me the redeeming feature of this book was its climax. The entire story is told in flashback right before the climactic moment. The book is a tough read unless the reader has in depth knowledge of history, religion, and the cultic societies. I say tough because it isn’t that the storyline is hard to follow without this knowledge, you always know where the story is headed and it has an extremely elegant climax. But reading this book without having at least some background in mathematics, history, religion, templars etc is like walking down a path with a scenic view, in the fog. You can grope your way home but the beautiful vistas are forever lost to you.