The Golden Room By Irving Wallace

Here’s a book I have read a few times and re-read today (it’s a small book) – The Golden Room by Irving Wallace. Published in 1988, two years before his dead, is about a brothel & the people involved with it and set in 1903’s Chicago. Minna & Aida Lester, two sisters and divorcees, change their last name to Everleigh and open up the fanciest, most popular & most famous brothel in the world, and maintain a dignified presence in the eyes of the people who like them. All their girls were hand picked for their beauty and were trained in the art of seduction. They were told to learn to talk, sit, appreciate art and culture and make an interesting conversation with the patrons. In the 3 storied mansion house that they converted into the Everleigh club in Chicago, there is a restaurant, offices, a large library and several rooms decorated with the finest & most luxurious style in different themes. They charge the most but you get the most for your money and the girls are best and they also get paid more.

However all is not going too well for them; newly re-elected major Harrison, who gets financial backing from rich meat-packer businessman Armbruster, wows to clean up the city and close down all the gambling houses and whorehouses, starting with the biggest one – The Everleigh Club! To make matters worse, Minna & Aida’s older brother has sent his son Bruce & daughter Cathleen to Chicago for 2 weeks and to live with his sisters – until Cathleen’s marriage to Alan, son of Armbruster! The sister sent away most of the 30 girls on a paid holiday to various hotels in the city, keeping only 6 girls to play as hostesses and pretend that they only run a fancy restaurant for the benefit of young Bruce & Cathleen. One of the girls who remains back is Karen, who is really Mayor Harrison’s secretary and who has come to work in the club as their newest prostitute in order to get enough evidence for the mayor to shut down the club once & for all. The virgin Karen has to pretend to be experienced and fools Minna into hiring her as a replacement for one of the girls who has gone missing. Only Karen didn’t expect to admire the sisters and also fall in love with Bruce.

Bruce is asked by Armbruster to marry his daughter and thereby be welcomed into his business that could see him clear off his family debt but the young lad has eyes only for Karen and stakes his earnings on a horse to win the local derby, which it does. Add to the mix is the new doctor for the ladies of the club – a maniacal Dr. Holmes revels in winning over the young prostitutes, luring them to his huge house, where he has sex with them and then gasses them, chops off the dead bodies into pieces and then burns their remains. When Armbruster unknowingly gets his son to the club for dinner and a woman (as a rite of initiation) he finds out the truth about Cathleen’s family and calls off the wedding. With enough proof seen first hand and his bill, Armbruster provides the evidence for Mayor Harrison to close the club and arrest the sisters. However a visiting German prince, who wants to spend time at the club makes Harrison change his mind and he and Armbruster begs the sisters to reopen the club; which they do, provided the wedding of Cathleen and Alan takes place. However Dr. Holmes has trapped Cathleen & Karen in his house; will Alan & Bruce be in time to stop his killing them? Read the book. A good read 7 outta 10!

Quoth The Raven, `Nevermore’

My favourite poem of all time is the uber gothic & uber awesome ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allen Poe. Why? because it’s awesome! It’s a narrative style poem  published in January 1845, noted for it’s musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a talking raven’s mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man’s slow fall into madness. The lover, possibly a student, is lamenting the death of his lover Lenore. After the raven raps at the man’s door and then his window, it is let in and perches on a bust of Pallas. To the questions that the man puts to it, the raven only answers ‘Nevermore”.

The raven has long been considered a bird of ill omen and of interest to creators of myths and legends. The lover puts questions about whether the raven was sent to him as a sign by god or angels to forget Lenore, if the raven is evil or a prophet,  whether he will be reunited with Lenore in heaven and finally comes to the conclusion that his soul is trapped beneath the raven’s shadow and shall be lifted “Nevermore”. Please play the video below which is a narration of The Raven by Sir Christopher Lee.

And watch a recording off a tv of the Simpson’s Halloween special on The Raven. Narration here is by James Earl Jones.

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The Second Lady By Irving Wallace

I’ve read this book a couple of times – once as a 13 year old and a couple of times more recently – and it’s a fun read each time. Irving Wallace, an author known for his heavy research and sexual themes for his books, died in 1990 but is known for some of his best sellers, including this one The Second Lady. This book, published in 1980, is about a fictional plot carried out by the Russians to gain a political edge against the United States. During a good-will visit to the Soviet Union, the American president’s wife is kidnapped and replaced with a Russian spy who is visibly indistinguishable from the first lady. The Soviets need a spy close to the president in order to learn the weaknesses of an American-backed regime in Africa that is currently the focus of a stand off between the superpowers.

The ambitious & outrageous plan is the brainchild of General Petrov, who followed the American elections closely and realized 6 months before the results that a beautiful stage actress Vera Vavilova looked amazingly like Billie Bradford – the wife of the presidential candidate tipped to win the race. He puts his plan in place using the help of Alexyi Razin, a Russian born & raised mostly in the US, to groom the young actress to imitate & play the role of a lifetime – that of the first lady of the United States. Andrew Bradford does win the race and is elected president, so the KGB has Vera operated on to make her look exactly like Billie. Razin grooms her and gets her language & accent lessons and they even have a the interiors of the White House duplicated so Vera can know her way in & out. 3 years from when she started her “training” the plan is set into action and Billie is rugged and switched with Vera. The plan is to switch them back after 3 weeks, after Vera finds out vital information from the President.

If it hadn’t been for former campaign writer, Guy Parker, who was attached the White House and writing a book on the first Lady and started noticing the changes & odd details about the first lady ever since her return from Russia, they would have gotten away with it. He talks to Billie’s press secretary (and the object of Guy’s lust) and although she initially brushes away his concerns, she later starts to share them. They find out about the imposter but who can they go to? Ultimately, the Soviets decide to kill both the spy and the president’s real wife using explosives. At the end of the movie  the plan is only partly successful – one of the women survives and the other dies with Razin, but it is not clear which. The reader is left to decide whether the woman who returns to the president is indeed his real wife or the spy, because the only one who knows for sure is the lady herself!

The Confession – John Grisham

I read a lot of John Grisham novels. This is the latest one that I have read. Bought 4 weeks ago, I read it slowly and took my time. It’s 2010’s The Confession which is about a young man false accused of raping and killing his high school classmate. Nicole Yarber went missing in 1998 a teenage girl and high school student in Slone, Texas. Under duress Donte gives a fake confession, which is all the cops seem to need to put him away. A false eye witness by Nicole’s on & off jealous boyfriend is another nail in the coffin for Drumm. The actual killer, a serial rapist and multiple offender for other crimes, Travis Boyette watches by as the young African-American man, Donte Drumm, is picked up by the cops and interrogated harshly.

Boyette had raped Nicole multiple times, killed her and buried her in Missouri. Donte’s lawyer Robbie Flak fights hard for his client but Donte is convicted and sentenced to death. He has been on death row for nine years when the story takes place. While Drumm serves his prison sentence, Flak fights his case while Black Americans protest his false conviction, creating a law and order situation. While the years passed Boyette develops a tumour in his brain that seems to be inoperable and his health falters. He approaches Kansas priest Reverend Keith Schroeder and confesses his sin. Boyette says that he doesn’t want to come clean to the public but he doesn’t want an innocent man to get killed for his crime. It takes a lot of convincing but Schroeder takes the dying man takes him to Slone.

Despite their adventure and Boyette speaking to tv journalists and declaring himself as the real killer, the execution proceeds on and Drumm is executed by lethal injection. Boyette then reveals the resting place of Nikki and DNA samples show signs of rape and assault on her body. She finally comes home and is given a proper burial as does Donte, where at the funeral his lawyer is able to announce the proof of his innocence. In the aftermath, it turns out that Travis’s tumor is not malignant and the cane is there for protection in his half-way house. His seizures however, and intense headaches, are real. He evades the cops and goes back to finding a victim to rape – but he is beaten by a rescuer and arrested. Keith takes some flack for taking Boyette to Texas and he and his his wife leave Kansas for Texas where he takes up a position in a church there.

Really good novel, drags in some places especially when the riots and fights in Slone are described but otherwise I recommend that you pick it up and have a good read.

Book Review : The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a novel by celebrated best selling authour Stephen King, who is my favourite of all time. I have read several of his books (IT is his best) several times and really enjoy this master of the macabre. The book is about a girl, Trisha, of 9 who is lost in the woods in upper Maine and neighbouring New Hampshire, while out hiking with her recently divorced mother & hostile brother. Trisha separates from her family as she takes a pee and is lost for over a week. She has some food in her backpack and a walkman, through which she gets her comfort – listening in to baseball games of her idol, Tom Gordon, and his Boston Red Sox. She wears a Red Sox jersey with Tom Gordon & 36 printed in it & also has a Red Sox cap which is autographed by Gordon. She survives by wisely eating as little of her supplies and then on berries & nuts. She has to resort to drinking dirty water which makes her sick and gives her pneumonia, diarrhea and makes her vomit. She gets fever and shaking while in the rain and makes a makeshift shelter. She starts hallucinating; she sees images of people in her life including Tom Gordon, speaking to her. King does not let on if the monster that she feels and has glimpses of is real or hallucinated.

She comes across the carcass of a dear and sees claw marks on a tree. She makes it to an old road and takes shelter in an abandoned truck from which she see a glimpse of her stalking apparition during a rainy night. Meanwhile, her parents are searching for her and have united in their fear for what has happened to their daughter. Trisha keeps listening to bits of commentary of Red Sox games. A symbol of her girlie attempts to keep upbeat despite her situation is demonstrated in her singing along with a jingle whenever it plays on the radio between commentaries. Finally she faces her stalker who looks like a huge bear to her but with black sockets for eyes and maggots, flies and other insects crawling inside it. However, it seems like a normal bear to a passing hunter and he shoots at the bear just as Trisha throws her now battery-dead walkman in a baseball curve at the bear’s head. The “bear” is chased away and the hunter carries Trisha to a hospital, where as she recovers, she is reunited with her brother and her reconciled parents. The book is split up in the form of innings (nine) and a ‘pregame’ (the morning before she got lost and starts her adventure) & a ‘postgame’ (as she recovers in the hospital).

It’s not one of his best and it kinda drags on and on without much happening and it isn’t as exciting as a lot of his other work. All in all it’s a good read but I wouldn’t be able to finish it at one go.

What Have You Been Reading Lately?

I’ve been trying to read more these last couple of months. I tried reading a few old novels that I had lying around. I re-read The Da Vinci Code for the 4th time recently. I also re-read The Bretheren & The Vampire Lestat last month – the former for the 3rd time and the latter for the 2nd time. Not mind boggling titles but it’s still stuff that I like a lot and will probably read a few more times before my death. I am now almost halfway through Stephen King’s Thinner which I have read 3 times before.

I’d like to read a lot more as there is a ton of good books but I don’t really go out to buy new books as 1) I don’t want to spend too much money on books 2) I don’t want to clutter up my place as space is at a premium and my two shelves are already filled up with my collections and other stuff. I have a bunch of books collecting dust in a big built in cupboard that I have read at one point and have no interest in reading again at this point (but might change my mind a while later) and I either need to clean them up and try reading them or sell them and get new books which I can store in the same space. I want to get all the Game Of Thrones books (or whatever the books that inspired the tv series are called) by George R R Martin at some point this year. Unfortunately, I have only seen them being sold as a set in one of the premium book stores which means I cannot buy them one at a time to adjust with my budget. I tried looking for the same set at a discount and/or used book store but they hadn’t eve heard of it! (Blasphemy)

Comics I Read As A Child

As a kid I read a lot of Amar Chitra Katha comics –  one of India’s largest selling comic book series, with more than 90 million copies sold in 20 Indian languages. As a child the comics books that retell stories from the great Indian epics, mythology, history, folklore, and fables in a comic book format were a mainstay in the evenings for me & my friends. Parents willingly bought these comics for us and encouraged reading them. Along with those comics I also read a lot of Twinkle, Richie Rich, Archies and Superman, Batman and other DC & Marvel comics. Children’s books like Nancy Drew (sue me), Famous 5, Hardy Boys and I know I had one more series but I can’t remember the name right now. I know I’ve read 2 or 3 books of those as well.

Once we moved back to India, I read a lot more comics for the next 3 or 4 years because I didn’t have that community of friends living in the same building as I did when we settled down in Thrikkakara. Ofcourse I had friends but just 2 or 3 lived within walking distance and ofcourse I had my cousins but I only saw them during the holidays. And I got a lot of comics from my cousins too. Here in India I read a lot of, and I mean a lot to the point of addiction, Phantom & Mandrake comics. They were my favourites and I devoured the books for hours on end. Other than those there were a few others but I can’t for the life of me remember the names. Phantom, Mandrake and Archies were it for me. And ofcourse I loved Tintin & Asterix comics – I have both entire collections on my laptop in PDF format. The books are just ridiculously expensive to buy but I got the ebook versions for free download so who needs the book formats anymore?

The Litigators – John Grisham

The Litigators is John Grisham’s 25th book and one of his best. And that’s saying quite a lot as he has lots of page turners and some real classics. The master author makes this a David vs Goliath legal novel (and coincidentally  as the lead character’s name is David) an interesting read and you will find yourself unable to put the book down as you root for the underdogs.

David Zinc leaves a high pressure job in one of the biggest law firm in Chicago and the nation having had enough of the place after 5 years. The 31 year old leaves the office building without warning one morning and heads straight to a bar where he proceeds to drink his first day of freedom away. He somehow manages to find a small  two-partner & two member law firm, Figg & Finley of the ham & egg, ambulance chasing variety. David promises to pull in some business and joins them as an associate. Oscar Finley and Wally Figg are two different type of lawyers; as Figg mops and moans through the day, wishing he could divorce his wife of 30 years, a 4 time divorced and recovering alcoholic Wally dreams of the cash cow.

Wally’s various schemes have never brought in the high payoff case but he seems to have found one in Krayoxx, a drug that lowers cholesterol and manufactured by pharmaceutical giants Varrick Labs. Hoping to hitch a ride on a mass tort case done by much bigger firms, Wally convinces Oscar & David that they need to round up clients in Chicago. At first the case seems to be a simple opportunity to sign up patients who took the extremely popular cholesterol reduction drug, Krayoxx, which was the number one prescription for obese patients. Wally finds 8 death cases of heart attack victims who used to take Krayoxx. Convinced that the drug is responsible, Wally signs up the 8 including the first case and joins mass tort lawyer Jerry Alisandros and his firm.

Varrick hires David’s former employers Rogan Rothberg who assign the case to Nadine Karros, a legal ace who has never lost a case in her career. As the trial date approaches, Wally’s dreams of milking in the big bucks vanish when Alisandros backs out as reports of the drug being quite safe come out. However the judge wants the first case to be tried and the trio of Figg, Finley with David go to court. However Figg suffers a heart attack on day 1 and needs surgery leaving Wally as lead counsel. In 3 days the pressures of trying a losing case gets the better of Wally and he starts drinking and disappears on David. Now it falls on David to try the case and he does a fine job on the final day, creating dents in the armour of Varrick but the jury finds the pharma giants not guilty. Not that David or anyone else expected them to rule in favour of the plaintiffs. The case is over and all future cases against Krayoxx are pulled. David helps Wally get to a rehab center as Oscar recovers from his surgery.

The secondary story is about David & his wife Helen finding a Burmese immigrant family whose son suffers from illness & brain damage after playing with a toy called Nasty Teeth – fake fangs. The paint chips in the fangs and he ingests the lead used to manufacture it, which causes the damages. David uses some of his own money to help the family and finally traces the company that now owns the toy makers and represents the boy’s parents. He settled the lead poisoning product liability case for $6.5 million, including $1.5 million in legal fees, which he uses to pay off the firm’s debts and include a bonus for their secretary. The rest is split between the 3 lawyers. He attempted to become equal partners as Finley, Figg & Zinc.The partnership did not work out as 63 year old Oscar retires and Wally is unwilling to try big cases and was dissolved after twelve months. Zinc opened his own product liability practice, David E. Zinc, Attorney-at-Law.

Deception Point – Dan Brown

Rachel Sexton is the estranged daughter Senator Sedgewick Sexton, a presidential candidate who is more popular than incumbent President of the United States Zachary Herney. But she is also an Intelligence Analyst who works for the NRO. The Prez sends her to the Milne Ice Shelf to validate the findings made by NASA – a meteorite which struck the earth around 190 million years and embedded within an are insect fossils very similar to, but not the same as, species on earth. NASA claims this as proof of extraterrestrial life.  The President also sends four leading civilian scientists (Michael Tolland, a famous oceanographer and TV personality; Corky Marlinson, a brilliant but eccentric astrophysicist; Norah Mangor, a prickly glaciologist and Wailee Ming, a palaeontologist) to the Arctic to verify the meteorite’s authenticity as unbiasedly as possible.

However a plot is soon discovered to fake the fossils (actually a recently found earth lifeform but not yet published) and that the powerful NRO director William Pickering is the mastermind behind it. He did it to hurt Senator Sexton’s campaign, protecting the American people in his eyes and also to boost the NASA supporting President’s chances of reelection. Sexton wants to cut NASA’s fundings and promises to spend more on education if elected President. However President Herney himself is unaware of this plot and genuinely believes that NASA has found authentic findings. Pickering has his small squad of black ops soldiers kill Dr. Ming & Dr. Mangor when a flaw in the data is discovered.

It is up to Rachel, Tolland & Marlinson to evade the NRO Director and his men and get the evidence of the fraud findings out to the public. Add to this mix is Gabrielle Ashe – Senator Sexton’s aide and former lover – who finds out that the Senator is selling out to private companies & plans to make space exploration go public. He has been accepting large sums of cash from the companies to fund his campaign. When she finds out this and the fact that she was being lied to by the Senator, Gabrielle decides to help Rachel expose the Senator. Marjorie Tench the Senior Adviser to the President is also killed when she comes close to finding the conspiracy that Pickering had set in place.

A good political & deception thriller, although not as good as the other 3 books of Dan Brown that I had read. Still a good real.

A Good Biography / Memoir

Hmm funny enough I haven’t read that many biographies or memoirs but I actually find them very interesting and would like to read more. The very first one I read, and I remember this so well cause the book is something that I  hold very dear to me, is My Life & Game which tennis legend Bjorn Borg co-wrote along with the writer Eugene Scott. Published in 1980, it is a fascinating read in which Borg tells us his story from his childhood, to how he won his first real tennis racquet, to playing in the juniors and then on turning professional. He writes a lot about the events and things that happened to him uptil 1980. By the time the book was published, Borg had won his 5th French Open title and also won his 5th consecutive Wimbledon title.

He talks about his rivals, his friends, some great matches and tournaments. His endorsement deals are showcased. One of things I remember well is how he explains his initial emotional outbursts on losing badly during the junior years and how his coach smacked some sense into him. He wrote about being embarrassed about his behaviour and that led him to change his demenour and outlook and a legend was born – Borg the professional player was known for his stoic approach, barely any emotional displays and reported to have “ice” flowing in his veins aka the IceBorg nickname! The book also talks  about his romance with Romanian player Mariana Simionescu (who he later divorced) in July 1980.

Although I have since read a few more biographies/ memoirs, this one stands out as it was the first one I read. I was 11 when I started getting into liking & watching tennis and I got this book, along with a few others, back in 1988. I must have read this from cover to cover atleast 20 times. I think I sold this book along with a whole bunch of other just before I moved houses. But I always tend to remember this one very well.

Last Library Visit

It’s been ages since I was last in a library. When I was a teenager I had two library memberships – one was a very small collection above a supermarket (which was then the only actual supermarket in the city and hence we went there once a week) and the other was a proper library with a solid collection of books, occupying a half floor of a building. The one above the supermarket had to share it’s space (all 4 large shelves of books) with a video tape rental, a dry cleaners, a gift shop and an ice cream parlour.

From the age of 12 till 17 I used to  go to the small library and rent a couple of novels for a week or two and return the books always well in advance. Their selections were poor but for a bookworm like me that was the only real place I had to go. Until I joined Elloor lending library which was near three major colleges in the city and hence always have a heavy flow of students who also liked to read coming and going at all hours of the day. I used to love this library because they had very cheap membership fees but had an awesome collection. I used to rent 2 to 3 big novels, a bunch of Archies comics and maybe a Tintin or Astrix ever two weeks from the age of 17 till 20. I loved reading and since there was no internet at the time reading was the major way I spent most of  my free time.

Also I had a girlfriend at the time and we used to plan our meetings at the library, spend an hour there and then go to one of the ice cream parlours that served as the only meeting place for young lovers to spend some quality time (wink, wink) with each other during those years. Ofcourse after the year 2000 the number of such places to hang out mushroomed, making me think that if only I was born a few years later! Anyways, I haven’t been to a library since 1999 when I was 23 and I went and cancelled my membership as I didn’t want the yearly fees to be incurred. I started buying more novels and trying to maintain a good home library.

My All-Time Favorite Authors

Anne Rice : I love her books which I discovered after watching the movie version of her book Interview With The Vampire. But it was a few years down the line when I first got any of her books. I started with Interview, then The Vampire Lestat, Blackwood Farm, Merrick, The Queen Of The Damned, The Vampire Armand, Blood Canticle and Blood & Gold. I enjoy all the books although some are a bit dragging. I’ve always enjoyed reading Anne Rice’s books a a bar near my apartment when I would have either a couple of beers or vodka and then some lunch. The bar is reasonably well lit and with enough sunlight coming in from the large windows, it was a swell place for me to sit & read in their comfy, cushioned chairs while drinking and eating.

John Grisham : It took me a while to get into Grisham because his books deal with the law but after reading a couple, I got into his stuff big time. I have all of his legal drama books uptil 2009 and have read The Painted House, which I didn’t care for. His books are amazingly engaging and I just love The Firm, The Client, the King Of Torts, The Partner, A Time To Kill, The Pelican Brief, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, The Summons, the Last Juror, The Broker, The Appeal & The Associate. Whew, that’s a lot of books! I often read his novels multiple times as it is easy reading and the stories flow well.

The late Michael Chrichton : Like most people I became a fan of Mr. Chrichton post the Jurassic Park movie which was based on his novel of the same name. Since then I have read his Jurassic Park, The Lost World, The Andromeda Strain, Disclosure, Eaters Of The Dead, Timeline, Congo, Sphere & Rising Sun. I really enjoy all these books and have read them multiple times. Thank you for giving us such amazing works of words Michael!

Stephen King : And finally, my all time favourite, the King of Authors, the Master Of Macabre – Mr. Stephen King. Responsible for writing my favourite novel of all time – IT! I just love this giant book and have read it 16 times. I also love Carrie (which I first read on a 16 hour train journey from Bangalore to Cochin), Salem’s Lot, Christine, The Shining, Night Shift, Cujo (and the movie), The Running Man, Pet Sematary, Thinner, Skeleton Crew, The Eyes Of The Dragon, Misery, The Tommyknockers, The Dark Half, Four Past Midnight, Gerald’s Game, Needful Things, Dolores Claiborne, Insomnia, Rose Madder, The Green Mile, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Hearts In Atlantis, Dreamcatcher – Whew!!! That’s a lot and I still want more. I want the Dark Tower series which is 7 novels.

Discovering New Books

I wish I could read as much as I used to as it now takes me a month or more to read a single novel whereas I would devour 2 or 3 in a month in years gone by. I was a bookworm but I am no longer one. Now since I read at such a much slower pace I have to pick & choose what books I read. In such cases I go for the tried & tested authors or I get help.

The internet is a good option – read synopsis & recommendations from website or blogs that review books. Check what other people are reading and saying about the books that they have read. Facebook posts, Twitter tweets etc etc. These days it’s the best way to find not just a good book but also movies, music & recipes for food & cocktails.

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Book Purchase – Hitch-22

I don’t buy books anymore. For ages I used to buy novels that I’d read over & over again. I used to be a book work, reading most of my free time. At first comics and then novels. I love non-fiction but I do also read fiction on occasion. With easier access to the internet books went on the backburner but I still did read a bit. I stopped buying them though – spending Rs. 300-500 on a good title was stupid as India forgets to lower prices to more reasonable rates as the years go by.

Instead what I did find was a used book store and a discount book store. I was happy as I got most of the stuff that I wanted and a reasonable price Rs.75-99 was the usual rates. Hmm, i could buy 3 or 4 more books for the price of 1 at the usual book stores! I slowly built a good library of books. However both the stores have closed down (no clue as to why) and even that outlet was gone for me.

But yes, it has been ages since I found myself in an actual book store and that’s where I was today and I spent just 6 or 7 minutes browsing through their shelves before I found the late Christopher Hitchen’s memoirs – titled cheekily as Hitch-22!  The book was published in June 2010, and was later nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Touring for the book was cut short later the same month so that he could begin treatment for newly diagnosed oesophageal cancer.

I’ve just started reading this book and got 20 pages done while sitting with a coffee in a cafe this morning. It’s very interesting and entertaining and, I must say, some sadness. Especially when you read the Prologue with Premonitions. I’m going to take my time with this book and read it over the next week. I’ll give you my review post that.

RIP : Christopher Hitchens

Influential writer, cultural critic & popular atheist Christopher Hitchens died yesterday due to complications of cancer of the esophagus. He was 62.

Over the years, Hitchens’ caustic attention was directed at a broad range of subjects, including Henry Kissinger, Prince Charles, Bob Hope, Michael Moore, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa. His career spanning 4 decades has seen him be a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the Hoover Institution in September 2008. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after.

A well known debater, his confrontational style made him a huge set of admirers and some detractors as well. Identified as a champion of the “New Atheism” movement, Hitchens describes himself as an antitheist and a believer in the philosophical values of the Enlightenment. Hitchens says that a person “could be an atheist and wish that belief in god were correct,” but that “an antitheist, a term I’m trying to get into circulation, is someone who is relieved that there’s no evidence for such an assertion.”[14] He argues that the concept of god or a supreme being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom, and that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization. He wrote at length on atheism and the nature of religion in his 2007 book God Is Not Great.

Though Hitchens retained his British citizenship, he became a United States citizen on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial on 13 April 2007, his 58th birthday. Asteroid 57901 is named after him. He has 2 children from his first marriage to Eleni Meleagrou. In 1989 Hitchens left Meleagrou for Carol Blue, an American writer.They have one daughter.

Christopher Eric Hitchens (April 13th, 1949 – December 15th, 2011)

Has A Book Ever Brought You To Tears?

Yeah I tried to read a book on christianity many years ago and I was so bored that I yawned a lot and tears came running down my eyes. I also remember two other books that would put me to sleep as soon as I tried reading a few pages – Zorba The Greek & The Last Temptation Of Christ. Both by Nikos Kazantakis, a Greek writer. Hmmm a trend is noticed over here. Maybe something lost in the translation from Greek to English. Although, many years later I came to like Zorba a whole lot more.

I also you know have had some tears while going through a few magazine spreads of Playboy & other such nudie mags. Those woman are enough to make a grown man cry. So sad; all that money and yet unable to fully cloth themselves! Makes me wanna go over and hug them to me and tell them everything is gonna be alright.

For the more serious answer, no I don’t think a book has ever brought me to tears. Emotionally Stephen King’s IT is the one closest to me; I feel that this novel has everything you could ever ask for from one novel and it has always resonated close to my heart. It has been my favourite novel of all time.

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Is The Book Always Better Than The Movie?

Well, what I have found is that the book is usually better than the movie. That does not necessarily mean that the book is way better than the movie. Yes it is true sometimes but it is also because once you read the book, you form a certain perception of how the visualization of it should be and often a movie based on the book will fail to reach the imagination of our minds. The mind is a vastly advanced and entertainingly exciting film maker and unfortunately there are very few instances of anyone being able to re-create the same scenes from one’s mind to the reel. It usually will fall flat.

Take me for example – the science fiction related imaginations of my mind are far more interesting and exciting than anything Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Farscape or any other Scifi franchise or movie can create. However, Gene Roddenberry I ain’t and therefore I cannot even begin to start thinking about create a movie or even a single episode of the stuff in my head – heck, I even have trouble putting it in words! So I must rely on film & tv series makers to get my fix.

Similarly, when you read a book, you create these images in your mind of how the houses, how the people look like. What cars do they drive, what clothes do they wear? How do they talk, walk, smile, cry, yell? How the scene unfolds – all this just from reading of some words in sentences. So when you see a movie based on the book, you are essentially seeing someone else’s interpretation of what you read and created/saw in your mind. It most likely will not match with what you saw and usually you are disappointed and it will fall short. On a few lucky occasions, you will find that the movie far outweighs what you envisioned when you read the novel and are quite happy to praise the movie.

If I think of examples of the exceptions to the norm, I often think of Jurassic Park – there is no fucking way in hell that you were even remotely disappointed to see the Magnum Opus of Steven Speilberg’s work. Yes Michael Crichton wrote a wonderfully detailed novel but the movie did managed to shadow it. Stephen King’s books are fantastic and the man has a very active imagination but Shawshank Redemption & The Green Mile movies do match up to his prose. And although most of you may disagree I did like the Da Vinci Code movie a whole lot and think that it atleast matches the book.

That’s all that I can think of at the moment. Do comment and let me know of any examples that you can think of.

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