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Showing posts from June, 2012

Number9Dream by David Mitchell : Eiji Miyake's surreal quest to find his father

Number9Dream is the tale of Eiji Miyake who wants to find his father. He travels to Tokyo from his village to do so. Its not a straight out quest though. He encounters the Yakuza along the way. Dream sequences and Video games abound. There are death sequences so horrific that the line between the surreal and real begins to blur.  David Mitchell is a pure storyteller. He creates suspense and keeps you turning pages all the while churning out prose of the highest quality. This is especially true when he goes into flashback mode. His ramblings are even better and he probably knows Japan as well as anyone with its unpredictable earthquakes and confined spaces along with the food. (He lived there for quite a while hence this is no surprise really). As with his other novels  he structures Number9Dream into self contained arcs that make a whole larger than the sum of its parts.  There are also a ton of John Lennon references that I didn't care for but that is a small gripe in an

Railsea by China Mieville : An Imaginitive tour de force from one of the masters of the genre

The story is about Sham Al Soorap a young apprentice on a train which hunts Moles.  Its the future, the sky is poisoned. So is a lot of the land. The only way to travel is over the sea of rails crisscrossing each other. The rails themselves have been built before and No one knows how they came to be. Myths and deities abound. On the railsea there are moles, not your ordinary moles but giant ones who are hunted. A lot of captains have particular targets referred to as philosophies. Sham is on a  doctor's apprentice on Medes, one of those trains. The Railsea itself is described beautifully in sparse prose with well chosen words. The book has a lot of substance. It doesn't have any romance that stifles the storytelling as in most novels. The moles themselves are beautifully done. Mieville excels in describing the hunt, putting you in the scene and his omniscient narrator is a delight. Parallels with Moby Dick are ever present but the story is much more deftly told.

On Kapil Sibal and his flawed proposal

Kapil Sibal has lost it. He is taking the one fair exam that the nation has and turning it into something that is vehemently unfair. When I went to IIT, I met a range of people with extremely diverse backgrounds. One of them was from a village called Kaimganj which doesn't have even the basic schooling infrastructure in place. There is no way his school would have produced someone in the top bracket. That is the problem with most villages. At least this way with one common examination they have a chance. At first glance his arguments have a point. The coaching institutions do give an advantage to those who study there but at least the teaching body and the examining one are independent of each other unlike the boards. Also his argument about money is flawed to say the least. Money always bestows an advantage no matter what the system may be. A student with the right parents will always have an edge over the poor one. Thats the way life works but as far as possible the gove

Announcing KBookSearch - The best way to find the cheapest book prices

I like to read(understatement) but there so far there was no easy way to get the best price for a book.  I often found myself manually sifting through the book sellers. Sometimes the difference in prices almost made one weep. I thought I could do something about it so I sat down this weekend to hack and the hack turned out to be much better than expected. Have a look at  KBookSearch . It looks at all the online book stores and gets the best price. For example have a look at the differences in prices for the  Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy  here. I have made it as fast and clean as I possibly could and hope it solves the same problems for you as it does for me. Mostly everything should just work. If something goes wrong feel free to comment on this post or send me an email.

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway : Victorian machines and madness

Nick Harkaway can write.(Understatement) is what I discovered after reading Angelmaker The prose is top notch. The characters are brilliant. There is Joe Spork, good son of gangster who turns bad. Edie Banister was a world war two spy but is now an octogenarian and it is her world war adventures that are narrated with the most verve and panache. There is Frankie the crazed french woman scientist and of course the villain is the best of the lot. The passion Nick Harkaway has for steampunkish machines just shines through. There are passages of such brilliance describing a mundane detail that you wonder how he managed to put so much life into the object. The trailer should tell you all you need to know about the plot. Its simple on the surface but there are many subtle reveals along the way which should not be spoilt. Its just a brilliant read full of inventive wit.