Book Reviews

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – by Mark Haddon

By Amrita Sharma

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A 15 year old autistic boy investigating the murder of a dog!

That didn’t sound too promising to me at first glance.

But Christopher, our protagonist, wants to write about something “real” as he cannot lie.

And he cares about the dogs!

So, even though his teacher Siobhan tries to discourage him, Christopher decides to write about his investigations into the death of a dog

“Readers care more about people than dogs.” Siobhan tells Christopher. “So if a person was killed in the book, readers would want to carry on reading.”

Guess what, Siobhan.  You were mistaken!!! Readers would want to carry on reading this mystery novel, only to discover that the murder is not the only mystery here. Even though the dog is the only one murdered, it is not the only victim.

As he gets closer to the truth, Christopher begins to investigate certain personal mysteries and the reader finds not just an answer to the initial mystery of the dead dog but also a new understanding of life with autism

“Lots of things are mysteries. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer to them. It’s just that scientists haven’t found the answer yet.”

This novel is an account by narrator, Christopher Boone, of how his world is turned topsy-turvy by the death of his dog. He ventures on an adventurous and dangerous quest and manages to get the “murder mystery solved” halfway through the novel. But, instead of restoring order, this solution leads to the unfolding of such events that threaten the carefully maintained world of Christopher.

Christopher suffers from autistic spectrum disorder called Asperser’s syndrome which is a neurobiological disorder. He’s a mathematical genius and a whiz at science.  But human emotions are particularly complex for him. He hates being touched, even by his parents. He hates the colors brown and yellow, and if one foodstuff touches another while it is on his plate, he cannot eat it. He needs to have the world just-so…. or he will scream, hit, or moan for hours. He is at a school for “special needs”. This means he is taunted regularly by his peers, misunderstood by copious adults, and is mostly reliant on his friendship with Siobhan, the teacher who is guiding him through the writing of this autobiography.

 ‘All the children at my school are stupid. Except I’m not meant to call then stupid, even though this is what they are. I’m meant to say that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs. But this is stupid because everyone has learning difficulties.  Because learning to speak French or understanding Relativity is difficult. And also, everyone has special needs. Like Father, who has to carry a little packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his coffee to stop him getting fat, or Mrs. Peters who wears a beige-colored hearing aid, or Siobhan who has glasses so thick that they give you a headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs, even if they have special needs

For Christopher, the desire for order and stability is a necessity of living. It is easy to feel sympathy and compassion for Christopher. We feel disappointed when those close to him fail to take his needs into account, even when they are trying to help him.

He needs an ordered and stable life to be happy and safe. But, come to think of it.  Don’t we all??? We, just like Christopher, would dislike being lied to on such a scale as he is here. Many of us would switch off, or like to, when faced with trauma. We often are in a position to not see what is staring at us in the face ~ or on the faces of others.  Christopher must learn to work with, and work through his abilities and disabilities, in order to accomplish the goals he sets for himself. He picks his way through, using a logical reasoning. He gets through truth and lies, fact and fiction, relationships with his parents and relationships with the outside world

And yet, the relationship of Christopher’s parents with their child and what being Christopher’s parents does to their relationship, is a fascinating subject and I think Haddon has handled it well. I felt the anguish of the parents trying to deal with a boy who doesn’t want to be touched or hugged even when in a distressed state.

As we peep into the life of his parents through Christopher’s eyes, we cannot but empathize with them. I can relate to the difficulties Christopher´s mother has with him and admire the way his father deals with the situation. Christopher was loved by his parents. But life isn’t easy, money is not plentiful and opportunities are limited.

This book is beautifully and thoughtfully presented too. You will find diagrams, drawings, letters and mathematical problems amongst the text. Small diagrams are used to better explain some of Christopher’s theories on life, the universe and everything, and these again are a simply yet clever way of keeping the book flowing.  You will probably learn a lot too, as I did. I now know much more about Science, logic, Sherlock Holmes and nature than before I had read this book. The title of this book is actually inspired from one of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Stories- Silver Blaze from The memoirs of Sherlock Homes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Blaze

Christopher’s’ investigations will cast some light on their world and on yours, perhaps. Full of faults and limited like all of us, people in this book appeared very real and very human to me as they went about coping with the world and all its stresses and trials.  As Mark Haddon said in an interview I found on the Guardian website.

It’s about how badly we communicate with one another. It’s about accepting that every life is narrow and that our only escape from this is not to run away (to another country, another relationship, a slimmer, more confident self) but to learn to love the people we are and the world in which we find ourselves.’

Refreshing, enlightening and ultimately heartwarming, this book is neither a murder mystery nor a book about aspersers. It’s a story about people, with a different perspective.  Looking at life from a different perspective enables us to realize that our circumstances can be different, yet life per se is essentially the same for everyone. We all carry our own personal Cross which was handed down to us by our circumstance. At the same time, we are also struggling with our individual weaknesses… (Physical, mental, social and psychological)…which put a limit to our ability to bear the cross

A lucky few, like the boy and his father in this novel, manage to overcome this. The mother is overwhelmed by the situation and still we find that we cannot help but sympathize with her because she DID try her best. Only trouble was that her best was not good enough.

 

A HOUSEWIFE’S CHRONICLES

Crafting Delight

Features, Welcome

The one who made writing go beyond – Kiranjeet Chaturvedi

Kiranjeet Chaturvedi a sociologist and a social worker by educational training. She has worked in consumer insights for corporates for years. She then went on to build a home in the Himalayas, got into advocacy and activism in the community, in areas of women empowerment, working with  diversity and inclusion, and sustainability. Always interested in literature and writing she finally started the writing workshops and support group around 4 years ago. Her House in the Himalayas is Birdsong and Beyond and the writing group is called Write and Beyond.

Here is knowing Kiran better , RAPID FIRE!!!!!

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Kiranjeet Chaturvedi, Founder Write and Beyond and Owner @ Birdsong and Beyond

a. Where did you spend your childhood? All across India, with a lot of years in Calcutta.

b. What do your parents do? Father was an army officer, Mother was a teacher.

c. When did your love for books begin? Earliest memories are – Mummy would get us books from libraries and we also had a few at home.

d.       Where do you stay? And who all are in your family? I live in Gurgaon mainly, and often go away to a little village in Garhwal where I have another home. 

e. What are your hobbies other than books? Farming, birding, hiking, all sorts of nature friendly things, Music.

f. Who is your twin personality, if you had to choose one, from the characters of the literary world? Elizabeth Bennet, probably.     

g. A book you swear by – the bedside book that remains there forever? No one book, I always  have three four different books I am reading at all times.  

h. Do you prefer Kidnle or Hardcoverbooks? Real paper books!

i. Library or buying books? Both, though given how little of a library system we have here, and my desire to have the books stay with me, I end up with more books bought than borrowed.

j. What is the time of the day that you love when it comes to reading? Any time really. I spend most of my reading anyway

k. What is your way of reading? 2 pages a night? Or 3 books simultaneously? Or something else? Reading is my main occupation, so everything goes, depending on what else is happening in my life at that time. But mainly I read quite a few books together. If a book is absorbing my interest I can read it through the day and night.

Write and Beyond regularly hosts Writing workshops and you can find them on FB here -https://www.facebook.com/groups/writeNbeyond/

On the group you will find generous doses of creative writing. Unabashed, free, away from judgement, being written for the Joy of writing, and when she calls it a Support Group – you will feel the same there.

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One of the Collaborative Writing Sessions – One such at Roots Café, Gurgaon

Q1. What was the idea behind Write and Beyond Group? The USP? What made you get people together in a group on writing?

It started as an idea I was sharing with the author Kanchana Banerjee to run residencies and retreats in my mountain home, for people to come and relax and do a bit of creative ideation and some art, including writing. Kanchana loved the idea and suggested making it mainly about writing as she had been teaching people creative writing online for a while, and she had trained specifically to do that. I had always been into reading and was a closet writer so far. She came in to help in the first year, and we got connected with so many supportive writers who came and spoke at our sessions. We learnt as we went along.

“Many (in the group) have felt supported in the very act of starting to write, of feeling confident and encouraged. Many have been inspired and guided to make their own first book, second book happen”

People love the kind of conversations and engagement they get at our sessions, which are not usually accessible in other forums , be it book clubs or lit fests or open mic sessions .Many have felt supported in the very act of starting to write, of feeling confident and encouraged. Many have been inspired and guided to make their own first book, second book happen. Many have been blogging with more focus and writing for other publications and so on. It has widened everyone’s horizon and given us a community of like-mindedness, which is the biggest USP, in my view.

It has been four years now, and I have come a long way as a writer and as a writing facilitator in this journey.

Q2. Creative writing is a skill a lot of us crave for? What would you say to people who want to start?

Read, read and read! Really. That is the first commandment. Read across genres and authors. Learn to pick what you don’t want to write, what you want to write. Learn to discern other’s voice, and discover your own. Write daily, write with discipline. Pay attention to what you like when you like something written by someone else. Write without fear and without the voices in your head telling you what you can or cannot do. Then read your work aloud. Then leave it aside. Go back to it after a few days. Read and re-write it. Then edit ruthlessly but only after you have written unabashedly. Read about writing as a craft. Got to writing and reading events. Find a writing and reading community and stay engaged with them

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One of the sessions with the author Natasha Badhwar

Q3. What do you do to keep yourself updated about creative writing? Or keep yourself in shape for it?

I subscribe to a whole lot of newsletters from across the world, and I follow a lot of writer blogs. I read on writing, and I talk and learn from my writer friends. There are so many resources and so accessible on the internet. I also regularly join courses and workshops in India and abroad for keeping myself in shape and motivated and to feel supported. And of course I keep writing for myself even though I am not a big one for sending out my work in the public.

“I subscribe to a whole lot of newsletters from across the world, and I follow a lot of writer blogs.”

Q4. What kind of books do you read? Who all would you say are your Favorite Authors?

I read all sorts. But non-fiction is my all time favorite overall. Things with a socio-psychological bent. And a lot of nature writing, and things more esoteric. I love James Herriot, Gerald Durrel, Bill Bryson, Nan Shepard, PG Wodehouse, Jane Austen, Jerry Pinto, Anjum Hassan, Saikat Mazumdar, Anne Patchett, Santosh Desai, Muriel Burbery, Agatha Christie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Margaret Atwood, Ursula LeGuin…so many actually it is hard to mention even most of them. I have listed those that came to mind immediately and those that I have been reading or referring to recently and some are eternal favorites.

“I love James Herriot, Gerald Durrel, Bill Bryson, Nan Shepard, PG Wodehouse, Jane Austen, Jerry Pinto, Anjum Hassan, Saikat Mazumdar, Anne Patchett, Santosh Desai, Muriel Burbery, Agatha Christie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Margaret Atwood, Ursula LeGuin”

 

We had loads of fun getting to know Kiranjeet better, hope you 
guys liked this month's feature. You can follow them @ Write andBeyond and become a member on Facebook. 
The Group is based in Gurgaon.
Know of someone related to Literature / Books/ Reading , 
doing some great or interesting work and should be featured? 
Write in to us @ thedelhibookclub@gmail.com

 

Events

Current Read

Theme - No Theme
Venue - To be Decided.
Date - 27th May 2018 , Sunday
Time - 10:45 AM

Ok so the Club has had a few busy months and now its time to do some reading for the fun of it. After all, that’s the reason for the club anyway. So this time No theme. Let’s just have good cup of coffee and a relaxing conversations.

Also, It’s time to review our Reading challenges that we all ambitiously made starting of 2018. Where exactly have we reached? Are we there yet? Will we ? Wont We?

And I got myself the Penguin Modern Set and I am going to be getting the same along for all to see. It would be great to see , touch feel the product before actually buying it. So here is my set.

Uff, so much to share and such little time and space. So well, Also there is going to be an Uber exciting news for new authors, people with a flair for writing and people with stories in their heart. Great Collaboration in store with a youthful zingy Publishing house. Anthology anyone? 🙂

Credits for Cover Image – http://www.niamhennis.com

Events

Top 10 Books on DILLI!

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Theme - Dilli - Delhi - Indraprastha 
Venue - The Stainless Gallery , Okhla , New Delhi
Time - 11 AM

Hear people speak about their favorite Book on Delhi and you speak about yours. The book could be a Fictional piece, a mythological piece or even a historical book. Anything that is magical or not so much about the City we love or love to hate. Here’s your chance.

Clueless about what to read? Here’s a quick list from the DBC Members –

  1. Twilight in Delhi – Ahmed Ali
  2. The Last Mughals – William Dalrymple
  3. Adventure in a Mega City – Sam Miller
  4. Delhi : A Novel – Khushwant Singh
  5. City of Djinns – William Dlarymple
  6. Delhi It’s Monuments and History
  7. Capital: The Eruption of Delhi – Rana Dasgupta
  8. Besieged: Voices from Delhi 1857 – Mahmood Farooqi
  9. Unsettling Memories – Emma Tarlo
  10. Perpetual City – A short Biography of Delhi – Malvika Singh

Here are our top Ten – Any we missed out. Shout and let us know. and catch us on 21st April at 11 AM at Stainless Gallery. Here are a few pictures of the beautiful gallery which will house us.

 

 

 

Book Reviews

The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel

By Vidurr Sharrma

Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by author Michael Finkel.

Is a story of a man who at the age of 20 suddenly disappeares into the woods. “One day, just another day, Christopher Knight drove his car gave up and then his legs drove him to the jungle.”

Christopher Knight disappeared in the woods of rural Maine shortly after completing his graduation from high school & spent his next 27 years in the forest until he was caught by police. Nobody knows why he did that, why he exiled himself from society, why he did not want to be the part of world, to have family!

The story majorly narrates with elucidating his daily struggles for food, how he managed to break into houses to steal food and all the essentials he needs to survive in the tough jungle. His life was complete isolation and he was literally prepared to live in the woods and die in the woods. Unfortunate for him, in one of his acts of break Ins into camp sites, his hour of luck ran out and he was arrested. As he was quite famous for his regular heists, the story spread like a fire and this is how journalist Michael Finkel came in contact with Knight and ultimately it led to the writing of this book.

I really admire the hardwork which the author has  pulled in to collect Knight’s whole experience in the woods – showing us a different side of a life where a man left all the social pleasures and lived in complete isolation.

Well recommended ! 4 stars.

Book Reviews

The Giver – Lois Lowry

By Shabbir

The GIver

What does the perfect society look like?

Its an important question without an answer. Which is strange because the question is extremely basic.

We are humans and we ought to know what’s the best way to live in groups. Only we dont.

The Giver explores the question in a very unique way. Through describing a safe, efficient society set in the unknown future. Through telling first about everything that’s right with it, and then everything that’s not. Told with a simplicity children can understand (it is in fact a children’s book, and like all good children’s book, not limited by the reader’s age), it’s one of the stories that gets you thinking, about a question which has no answer. Maybe to bring home the realization that some questions just do not have an answer.

Book Reviews

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Review by Joseph Rai

joe

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – a book about the joy of reading and letter writing. How can it possibly go wrong?

Just imagine that a book you once possessed has landed in the hands of another discerning reader. To your utmost surprise one day, you get a text message from the reader saying that he/she is in possession of your book and wants to connect. Of course you had scribbled your phone number in the book for reasons lost to you by now.

This sort of forms the premise of the magnificent epistolary romance/historical novel set in World War II.

 

Full Review on Delhi Book Club Facebook Page -https://www.facebook.com/groups/delhibookclub/permalink/10155527038290787/