Sunday, 25 May 2014

Book Review : Remember by Karen Kingsbury

“Substitutes Props for characters, End for narration and Quantity over Substance”

Remember by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley is the second book in the Baker Family Chronicle by Karen, which is also called the Redemption series. The truth is, It is more precisely described as a nagging drama of Ashley Baxter and her return to the Baxter fold. The story revolves around the lives of The Baker kids and is set a few years after the previous book (Redemption) left off. The book follows a similar line of thought and narrative as Redemption and mostly revolves around Catholicism and it's ideals in keeping with the previous book. But with all the respect I have for the Catholicism, this books fails abysmally, it neither succeeds in conveying the relevance nor the necessity of this principles in day-to-day life. The book manages only to show off its characters as depraved and enchanted.

The book is neither a precious piece of literature nor is it interesting to dedicate oneself to. In fact it is one book that you can totally skip without the fear of missing out on anything of value. But the book may come in handy if all you are interested in reading is an uncomplicated story of people whose lives are needlessly complicated, or if you find yourself in a long train ride with no admirable company whatsoever. 

The issue with the book is not the over inducement of Christian teachings in it but the sheer inability of the author to look at her characters as humans with their own lives and stories. She treats most of them as props to guide her protagonists to the predefined destination. She is brutal to her sub cast, she labels them as good and evil without ever bothering to view them as children of circumstances nor does she explains why anybody, even her main characters act the way they do. The book for some reason has defined the end first and the narrative just craves to reach there and in this blind pursuit it loses out on the journey and the characters. 

Remember by Karen Kingsbury is yet another example of why she is called a Christian author, But beyond that she makes no claims and her claims make no fame. She is an author who sadly lost the story for the end. These are but few of the several reasons that made Remember by Karen Kingsbury quickly climb up high on the list of the worst books I read this season. Redemption was by far a few notches better than its successor. 

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Friday, 16 May 2014

The Indian Elections 2014 finale

The Indian election 2014 is unarguably the most sensational and most interesting election to date to have occurred in India. The massive election that involved the participation of almost one eighth of the world population was no less interesting than any show in the world. There are a slew of factors that has made this election as electrifying as it has been, most people are watching this election as they would have watched their favorite football team battle it out in the world cup finals. The elections of 2014 has it's share of everything that would make it a blockbuster any where any time, be it the stark contrast in personas of the leaders, the fiery salvos being fired at each other, the blow by blow media coverage of the election fiasco and even the angry restless supporters swearing at each other in the various social media sites.

The major reason why the elections are as hyped up as they are now is less because of the candidates and their actions but solely due to the relentless work of India's free corporate media that has learned the knack of making anything and everything into a sensational marketable item. The more successful candidates were the ones that were able to use and tap into this media frenzy for breaking news and use it to their advantage. The rise of AAP can be attributed to this effective use of media prowess and so can the painstakingly and precisely calculated brand image building by Narendra Modi. They both used the media effectively, one for carried away but that is a discussion for a later time and the incumbent Congress was terrible at media management and that has affected them and now by all predictions they are heading for an unceremonious demise (But there is lot more to that than just that, Congress messed it up big this time).

When media has helped the election and its campaign get covered in a never before way, making this the first election to be televised extensively and where the media dictated fortunes, the leaders of the many parties unwittingly turned this election away from a federal one where party mattered to a presidential one where the individual was the prime focus. Such a successful shift of election style has helped BJP the Indian right wing party greatly and punished the incumbent congress party; this is mainly because of the sharp contrasts in personas of their prime ministerial candidates, where one is strong, opinionated and decisive the other appears clueless, confused and undecided. This contrasting persona has and will affect the election to an election that has been turned into a personality contest in a country whose dreams of being a world super power has been shattered and their ambitions violated. This is what the campaign has all been about, to bring back the nation to the glory days and to enable it to see the dream that appeared to be within grasp half a decade ago.

This election has stood out from the rest on the fact that this must be one of the first elections to have bee selected on the plank of development and a prosperous future alone. When usually elections deteriorate into petty minority politics and divisive strategies to isolate and consolidate various vote banks, where segregation along communal lines are a common strategy to achieve electoral victory, this election has become a stand out. During most of the election the candidates has distanced themselves from theses lines and is mostly seen as a self-destructive strategy to adopt. Though there have been some lone salvos and the some attempts to convert the election to old lines, they have remained mostly unsuccessful with Narendra Modi showing great restrain.

What ever be the result that comes out today, one thing is for sure, it will be historic and fantastic for the future of the nation. A change is in the reckoning and many expect Narendra Modi to deliver on his elaborate and embellished promises. I as all curious Indians out there am currently glued to the television screen, counting seconds before the first numbers to start trickling in. After all the speculation, anticipation and projections there is no substitute for the real thing. See  you on the other side.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Nature of Stories

The thing about stories are that they give you a world of your dreams in which you can live and do the impossible things that you wish you could do. They give you a freedom and your imagination a free reign. You take to your heart your favorite characters, and slowly and secretly you live their lives as if their life was inseparable from yours, as if they were but one. You feel their anguish and their happiness, you cry with them and you laugh with them. Their emotions are your emotions, their success yours, their failures your failures. That is why we love them, we embrace them and we crave them.  That is we are hurt when they are hurt and that is why we flood our eyes when their heart is laden.

Have we not all begged in agony when we knew that our hero was walking into a trap, have we not consoled our hero when he blamed himself for the sad demise of his trusted companion, have we not sneered and cursed the villain who tortured our hero’s beloved. Is it the hero that makes him so amiable to us, is the story that drags us towards it and them submerges us in its intoxicating world or is it ultimately us the reader who has taken upon his heart the courage to lose himself and decide to adore and love the story and its hero. Somehow the story, the hero and the author are immaterial to the reader.

The reader weaves his own story every time, he makes his own castles and give his heroes the face of his creation. He crafts the enchanted forest and despicable moors.  The story of any story is the creativity and imagination of the reader not the creativity and the imagination of the author. It’s the reader who weaves the story and who gives it a life force that is capable of animating the whole world and it’s ultimately the reader who breathes life into the story and makes it come alive. It is the reader who fathers the story, the author is but a guide who lightly guides him through the altogether unfamiliar world the reader has conjured up. That is why a truly great story is one that is open for interpretation in as many ways as there are fertile minds there in the world.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Book Review : Redemption by Karen Kingsbury

“The perfect travel companion, blissfully light and engaging”.

Redemption by Karen Kingsbury is the first in the Redemption series, A trilogy revolving around the Baxter family, a highly religious and orthodox family living in Bloomington, Indiana. Redemption, the first book in the series redemption revolves around Kari Baxter. When Kari Baxter finds out that her husband, Tim Jacobs a college professor who is having an illicit affair with his understudy, her whole world falls apart. She is further devastated when he asks for a divorce. The much distraught Kari takes to religion and its echelons to save her and her marriage from this crisis.

Redemption is the story of betrayal and as the name of the book gives away 'redemption', Karen reiterates that the troubles of Kari are not enough reason to throw away a otherwise perfect marriage away and that marriage like all relationships require care and effort. Redemption is by far Karen's effort to convince the reader that even perceivably devastating betrayals in marriage can also be forgiven and a that a stronger marriage can at times be redeemed from these ashes.

Karen builds up a fairly elaborate family, each member with their own problem and in midst of her narrative she occasionally takes a detour to ramp the reader up on the background stories of the rest of the Baxter. Even then she forgets many main characters and fails to build them up, unfortunately they just remains as names and references. The most unforgivable of those is the story of Angela, Tim's lover. Even though she is central to the story she is conveniently forgotten. The story and its over reliance on religion and not on reason and the fact that the very story that is central to the book, the story of how the reconstructs their broken marriage is ill developed and leaves gapping holes and enormous in-continuity in the narration.

Otherwise the 360 odd page page-turner is a fairly light read, its one book that could keep you company during a short journey and would provide you with reasonable amount of entertainment. It however doesn't reach up-to the authors reputation of being an inspirational masterpiece.

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