Monday, December 24, 2012

Dance Dance Dance

No, this is not a remake of Mithunda's 80s movie (that one had only 2 Dances in its name). I recently went looking in the bookshop for more Kazuo Ishiguro (for details see earlier post on Remains of the Day), but instead found Haruki Murakami.

Murakami is a prolific writer, if the number of books on the shelf was any indication. He writes in Japanese, and most of the English books are translations. Dance Dance Dance is a sort of sequel to another of Murakami's books, so I was not as familiar with the characters as perhaps the author intended, but that was a small obstacle.

Murakami is highly awarded and very well regarded by critics and readers alike. It is easy to see why - the prose is lyrical, the thoughts deeply philosophical, and the characters memorable. The plot of the story itself was a bit abstruse - indeed I admit that it took me several days to motivate myself to read further than the first 15 pages. But once I waded in, there was no looking back. Part supernatural, part murder mystery and part magic realism, the story kept me expecting some kind of climactic denouement.

However, that was not to be. The story's resolution was a bit too pat, or maybe it was too abstract for someone who likes to see everything explained fully and all loose ends tied. That said, it was definitely worth the read, and I think while I may not remember much of the book a year out, I will certainly remember the title and what it stands for.

Incidentally, I was in the bookshop again last evening, in front of the same row containing Murakami's other books. I almost bought a few more, but then replaced them again. Too metaphysical for me, perhaps?

Friday, December 07, 2012

New Genres

Tis' the season of new genres. I recently read Cut Like Wound, a police procedural set in Bangalore, written by Anita Nair. The setting is quite novel, and the plot racy enough to keep one hooked. While the story is sometimes too dark for my tastes (spoiler alert: it has transgender abuse, child abuse, and gory details of gruesome murders), the characters make up for any flaws.

Inspector Borei Gowda is interesting, an alpha male trapped in a lifetime of mediocrity and bureaucracy. The story walks through his resurrection, which I liked quite a bit. He finds a girlfriend, bonds with his teenage son, and discovers a sidekick much like himself, all in the course of a few weeks. He also manages to re-discover his sex life (the sex is well written, I thought)!

Other than the characters, nothing much to remember the book by. However, I think this is probably the first book in the series, so will be looking out for the next installments.

Also saw Talaash (surprise, surprise! got tickets for it in Chennai!), the new Aamir Khan movie. Didn't know what it was when I went in. I had some vague idea from the promos that it would be a murder mystery, but turned out to be a disappointment in the end.

The plot was stale, to say the least, but the treatment was interesting. It is probably the first mainstream attempt to create Indian noir cinema. Well acted, too (Rani Mukerji was especially masterful), though I just wish they had plugged the many holes in the story! Worth watching once, but nothing that will be remembered six months hence, in my view.