HydRAW 2022 SeptemberReads
Write-ups and book reads of our members in September, 2022
For the first time in HydRAW history, a member has read more books in a month than Arun Kumar. It’s Fizza Younis whose book reads count in September is sweet sixteen. That’s very inspiring and we wish Fizza continues her blazing trail. Well done, Fizza, keep it up. Also, in this month’s write-ups is a comprehensive appreciation of Pablo Neruda’s poetry by our senior member Muralidharan Parthasarathy.
First the write-ups and then the lists.
Muralidharan Parthasarathy (on Pablo Neruda’s Poems):
Between the lips and the voice something goes dying.
Something with wings of a bird, something of anguish, and oblivion
The way nets can’t hold water.
[from the poem ‘I have gone marking…’]
There is a country stretched across the sky
Strewn with rainbow’s superstitious carpets
and evening’s vegetation:
that way I go — not without fatigue,
treading grave loam, fresh from the spade,
dreaming among these doubtful greens.
[from the poem ‘Dream horses’]
The day of the luckless, the pale day appears
With a cold heart-breaking smell, with its forces in grey,
with no bells on, dripping dawn from everywhere:
it is a shipwreck in a void, surrounded by weeping.
[from the poem ‘Weak with the dawn’]
In the poem ‘I have gone marking…’, the metaphor is a net in the expression ‘The way nets can’t hold water’. It gives the reader the feel of something crucial simply slipping and vanishing. The choice and apt use of a metaphor is an important strength of a poet.
The poet visualizes ‘rainbow’s superstitious carpets’ in the poem ‘Dream horses’. A very poetic way of symbolising superstition with a rainbow. Both sun light and rains are needed for the rainbow’s arrival. Superstition too shows up when there is a dilemma with two opposite directions intersecting on the horizon and pushing a person to try even something superstitious. Carpets of rainbow is a whole new imagination.
Dawn in our view is a small ray of light slowly thickening and brightening and suddenly spreading all over the sky overwhelmingly. But it is a liquid in the hands of the day which drips it from everywhere in the poem ‘Weak with the dawn’. This expression gives a model to poets that the genre poetry has so much space and scope for creativity.
When I appreciate Neruda I find he takes me closer to the genre and its potentials.
Dreams are very abstract and unfathomable for anyone. Very rarely one recalls a dream clearly and in detail. The poem ‘Nocturnal collection’ is a very long poem on the poet’s dream and dreamers as well, in general. The poem certainly challenges the creative side of a reader moving to greater heights in imagination and abstractness.
It is the wind that shakes the months, the whistle of a train,
the march of temperature over the bed,
In these lines the wind is both tangible and abstract. It shakes months and the whistle of a train alike.
Sleeping Cadavars that often
dance, tied to the pace of my heart
what opaque cities we are passing through
The poet’s command over the genre poetry to take the reader into his abstract world is evident in the above lines.
Comrades whose heads rest on barrels,
in a derelict fugitive vessel, far away
friends of mine, without tears, women with cruel faces:
midnight has arrived and a gong of death
beats around me like the sea.
There is a taste in the mouth the salt of the sleeper.
In the lengthy poem, stanza by stanza, the dreams, from subjective, open into an objective expanse. The reader ponders whether the poem points to the struggles and stresses of modern life where wantonly or involuntarily one person negatively impacts another.
The concluding stanza highlights dreams knock the doors of scores of poor, side-lined, ignored and oppressed men and women the same way as it does on that of the better off:
My heart, it is late and without shores,
Day, like a poor table cloth put to dry,
sways, surrounded by beings and extent:
there is something from every living being in the atmosphere:
close inspection of the air would disclose beggars,
lawyers, bandits, mailmen, seamstresses,
and a little of each occupation, a humbled remnant,
wants to perform its own work, within us.
I have been searching for a long time, I examine in all modesty,
overcome, without doubt, by evening.
The following are the last few lines the long poem ‘Lone gentleman’. The poem is very satiric and portrays how far a person’s heart is dried up, judgmental and cynical in its outlook towards gay love or love between a man and woman. There could be genuine love outside the institution of marriage but might require a bed as high as a sea-going ship. The inhuman world is no more a human habitat and it’s like forest. The figurative visualization that the forest breaths through the flowers which are like mouths in shapes of hoofs and shoes chocking full of teeth. These depictions stun the reader. Hoofs and shoes here symbolize the speed and desperation of the materialistic mind and stresses it undergo ever.
and, later on, the adulterers who love each other with real love,
On beds as high and spacious as sea-going ships-
so far sure and for ever this great forest surrounds me,
breathing through the flowers large as mouths chock full of teeth,
black-rooted in the shapes of hoofs and shoes
Use of ‘Iron age’ denotes a specific era, about 6 centuries prior to 600 B.C, but Neruda uses it in a different meaning, different context and for the contemporary life in which there is no human values in his view. In the poem ‘Signifying shadows’ the last but one stanza reads:
Oh that identity that I might go on living and ceasing to live,
and that I might so acquiesce in this iron age
that the shocks of deaths and births might not disturb
the deep, deep heartland I reserve for myself for ever!
In his figurative depiction of death with metaphors and wonderful poetic visualization, Neruda stands out and any poet reading these lines from the poem ‘Death alone’, draws tremendous inspiration:
Death is drawn to sound
like a slipper without a foot, a suit without its wearer,
comes to know with a ring, stoneless and fingerless,
comes to shout without a mouth, a tongue, without a throat.
Nevertheless its footsteps sound and its clothes echo, hushed like a tree.
Death lies in our cots:
in the lazy mattresses, the black blankets,
lives at full stretch and then suddenly blows,
blows sound unknown filling out the sheets
and there are beds sailing into a harbour
where death is waiting, dressed as an admiral.
Only in fiction the preliminary chapters would be carefully scripted by the writer to acquaint the reader with his narrative style and also to prepare him for the fiction’s pace and pauses. Neruda uses this method in the opening stanza and the next of the long poem ‘Oceanic South’:
The roses of this ocean are only made
of impoverished salt, a throat at risk,
The wind grows in silence
with one leaf and his battered flower,
with the sand which owns only touch and silence-
it’s nothing, it is a shade,
the track of an imagined horse,
it is nothing unless it be wave time has received
since all waves go towards the cold eyes
of time glaring under the ocean
There are so many versions of the eternal knocks of waves on the shores. Neruda finds them going to the cold eyes of time glaring under the ocean. Now with the figurative expression on time we understand the ocean is the expanse of human life and the collective quests and despairs of humans. Individual dreams are distinct and often contrary to the collective quests of humanity. Neruda figuratively depicts a world where there is none and the past is like the tracks of the horses and the future like the rain hovering over the sea:
It is a lonely region, I have already spoken
of the region so desolate
where the earth is brim-full of ocean
and there is no one — only the tracks of horses,
no one save the wind, no one
only the rain adding to the sea’s waters,
no one , only the rain growing over the sea.
The metaphor for human resource is a root in the poem ‘Walking around’:
I do not want to go on being a root in the dark,
Hesitating, stretched out, shivering with dreams,
Downwards, in the wet tripe of the earth,
Soaking it up and thinking eating every day.
For this reason Monday burns like oil
At the sight of me arriving with my jail-face,
And it howls in passing like a wounded wheel,
And its footsteps towards nightfall are filled with hot blood.
The poem opens new doors on the hypes about HR by any employer.
A poem is often a monologue. The poet shares something which is mostly abstract and complex; rather it is multidimensional in which the poet is too involved emotionally to paint it linear, or something we relate to instantly. That is why many modern poets come up with mind boggling similes or metaphors. Neruda’s expressions are classic examples:
the rope which is woven by oblivion and tears
— Autumn returns
I shopped for generosity, walked in the market of greed …
— The poet
At night I dream that you and I are two plants
that grew together, roots entwined,
and that you know the earth and rain like my mouth..
–Rain (Rapa Nui)
the flower grew until it consumed the stone,
the sea-froth river rose up to death..
Poetry the tool gets different shapes and uses in the creations of various poets. Poetry the vehicle is an aircraft when the reader flies with the poet, a submarine when both drown, and a chariot pulled by celestial horses when both swap between heaven and earth. Poetry the magic wand makes the inanimate pulsate. Poetry the nectar draws the readers the bees to a garden of wild flowers. Poetry in variably breaks loose the handcuffs with which institutions locked the readers’ hands.
Arun Kumar (on Dreams From My Father) : This book is written for young readers. It deals with family relations, father, son, mother and most of all kids with mixed race parents at a time when it was a taboo. Well written book.
Manohar Grandhi (on Tell Yourself a Better Lie) : This is book on her treatment of her patients who had mental issues. She basically hypnotizes the patients and then finds the problem. One interesting case is when a lady is fat and can’t lose weight. The factor that was causing it is once in her childhood the woman was abused. Her brain 🧠 gave a wrong belief that if you are big you would not have that abuse. So she was trying to loose weight through exercise, diets etc but was not able to do it because deep down she had a belief that by being bad the childhood trauma will not occur.
Fizza Younis (on A Thousand Steps into Night) : A book which I devoured with pleasure. It is told like a fairy tale and keeps you on your toes with twists and turns at every corner. The story is set in a world where humans, demons, gods, and spirits co-exist. Humans use talismans and enchantments to protect themselves from demons. Human villages are protected by spirit gates, which don’t let the spirits enter. And they avoid traveling after dark. It is also a world where women are discriminated against. It’s hard to say which people despise more, a woman or a demon. But what if it is a woman demon? And that is the central question of this story.
Miuko is an ordinary girl who is discontented with life. There are so many things she is forbidden to do. Basically, her father owns her. Although he is a loving and kind man, Miuko hungers for freedom. And it comes in the most unexpected way imaginable. She is cursed to become a malevolent demon. Now, she must struggle to keep her humanity and also find a way to break her curse before its too late.
On the road to her salvation, Miuko will find allies and make enemies. There will be times when she will doubt herself and her destiny, but her friends will help her to rediscover her purpose. Her journey is going to be full of dangers and trials. But she is determined to go back to her human self, no matter what. And if she saves the world in the meanwhile, well, that’s even better.
I think this book is phenomenal. I love Asian fantasy and YA fantasy and it’s a perfect mixture of the two. I’m not familiar with Japanese folklore & myths, but that didn’t affect my reading experience in the least. Because I might not have known the backstories of these spirits, gods, and demons, I think the author has done an excellent job of bringing them to life. The deeper messages of gender discrimination and judging someone based on how they appear also resonated with me. It just makes this book exceptional in my eyes. I would definitely recommend this book to fantasy fans.
Dhruva Nalla (on Atomic Habits) : It talks about how a small change can led to significant growth in a person. The author also says how to create shorter goals and complete them first and slowly the bigger goal would seem easier to achieve. He also explains how environment plays a key in human behaviour. This book contains valuable tips and it’s must read for everyone.
(on Manhunt) : It’s a thriller novella, it starts off with a bomb blast. Then a NYPD police officer and FBI try to catch the criminal. There is some Russian and American politics involved in the story. It felt like a movie script to me. It’s a plot driven story and thriller fans might like it. If you have read Stephen king or Dan brown you can ignore the book.
(on Taxi Driver [screenplay]) : I read the script of Taxi Driver; it’s about Travis Bickle, a Vietnam war veteran. He works as a taxi driver in the nights. He is a mentally disturbed man. The movie is about his journey who starts hating everything about the city he lives in, the people and the government. It’s a brilliant character study of a mentally disturbed man, his point of view of the society he lives in and how his hatred turns him towards violence. To sum up, the movie is a character-driven story and contains some controversial themes but if we look past them, there is a lot in this movie.
Lavanya Nukavarapu (on Murder at Seebe Lake) : I liked the way the author gave the name to the protagonist’s inner voice, ‘Satire’ and used sarcasm effectively. However, I felt the plot was very simple, the detailing was good but felt convenient at times. I could predict the murderer before so I was not that excited to reach the end.
(on Miss Manali and the Missing Tiara) : Having read the author’s previous two books, I do not consider this as one of her best works. Could be that I am not a romance genre fan. Though there was suspense, I was unimpressed by the romance section altogether and felt the plot was convenient at some places. I finished the story but was left with an underwhelming feeling especially when I know the potential the author has. Definitely a one time read and my not so strong inclination towards romance could be one of the strong reasons for me not connecting to the characters and the plot. But I did like the way the author showcased the bully character and the victim’s journey.
(on The Heist Artist) : I enjoyed the story, though there wasn’t any wow factor a heist or a con artist plot has, but the author really did a good job in telling the story in details. The first person narrative was engrossing and I easily connected with the main character. A lot of cliches that could have been avoided. But what makes this book appreciable is the sheer honesty of the author to stick to his style and his way of working the plot.
(on Atomic Habits) : I have two words — inspiring and executable!
Sudheendra Fadnis (on The Hero with Thousand Faces) : It’s a fantastic read. Initiation, separation and return. It talks about Freudian concepts and Jungian archetypes and the importance of father-like figures in our lives. All mythology and folklore are symbolisms. They have the same patterns. The star wars director is greatly influenced by this book it seems.
- Collection of Poems by Pablo Neruda
- Didn’t We Have a Lovely Time! by Sir Michael Morpurgo and Quentin Blake
- Signs of Survival by Renee Hartman and Joshua M. Greene
- To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite
- Marvin Redpost: Alone in His Teacher’s House by Louis Sachar
- Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama
- Walking Is a Way of Knowing in a Kadavar Forest by Madhuri Ramesh
- Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
- Incredible Chocolate Box by Roald Dahl
- Raj Kapoor by Yug people
- The JAZ Gang Book 3: The Mystery of the Secret Chamber by Vaishnavi Anantha
- Holes by Louis Sachar
- Our Tigers Return Story of PTR 2009–2015
- While The Storm Rages by Phil Earle
- When The War Came Home by Lesley Parr
- Grit by Angela Duckworth.
- Bulls, Bears and other Beasts by Santosh Nair.
- Get Epic Shit Done by Ankur Warikoo.
- Tell Yourself a Better Lie by Marisa Peer.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
- Living Life as a Thank You by Nina Lesowitz, Mary Beth Sammons , et al.
- Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul
- The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak
- A Song of Sky and Sacrifice by Lana Pecherczyk
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- A Magic Steeped in Poison (The Book of Tea 1) by Judy I. Lin
- A Venom Dark and Sweet (The Book of Tea 2) by Judy I. Lin
- Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
- A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee
- The Reeds by Chele Pedersen Smith
- XOXO by Axie Oh
- Rose: Future Heart by Jazalyn
- Hollow: A Love Like a Life by Jazalyn
- The Duke’s Rules of Engagement by Jennifer Haymore
- Last Night at the Cafe by Joie Y.
- A Very English Murder by Verity Bright
- An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan
- A Quiver Full of Arrows by Jeffrey Archer
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Manhunt by James O. Born and James Patterson
- Taxi Driver (screenplay) by Paul Schrader
- Murder at Seebe Lake by Nisha Mohan
- Miss Manali and the Missing Tiara by Supriya Parulekar
- The Heist Artist by Vish Dhamija
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- The Right Companion by Prachi
- The Hero With Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- The Heist Artist by Vish Dhamija
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
- The Right Companion by Prachi