Summer Reading – I

P. G. Wodehouse, What Ho!: I read this during my trip to sunny California,  and although it contained many stories that I had read before, this was a superb read. Wodehouse never ceases to amaze me; his works are brilliantly funny. Humor is one of the most difficult genres to write and this man is surely the master of his craft. I can never tire of reading Psmith and Jeeves and Ukridge. What wonderful luck then that this guy is possibly the most prolific authors of all time. Oh Wodehouse.

R. K. Narayanan, The English Teacher:  A lethargic, slow, languid novel that seemingly has no story or sense whatsoever. The events unfold without any order and the characters lack depth — they have a sort of a wooden feel. Nothing seems real, or even remotely possible! This is my second Narayanan novel — the previous one being Waiting for the Mahatma which I read over my break in India — and I have to say, I am thoroughly underwhelmed by this novels as of now. Is this the genius that people seemingly adore? I am not going to give up however, some more of Narayanan’s tales are to follow, apart from my attempt at reading the work he is most famous for — Malgudi Days.

Mark Haddon, The curious incident of the dog in the night-time: I know that I am late to the party — but the beauty of books (especially good ones) is that they never get old. The stories in them live on forever, because good books manage to capture some timeless quality of human existence. Mark Haddon has done a wonderful job in this novel (which I managed to finish in a day!), and his world (rather Christopher’s world, as narrated by Mark) is so beautifully etched out that I couldn’t help but laugh and feel sad at the same time. What a wonderful story, what an excellent writer and what an amazingly novel way of putting words on to paper — show me another best-selling fictional novel with a proof that involves the Pythagoras theorem! I thoroughly enjoyed this masterpiece and highly recommend it — especially the carefully etched out art!

Gerald Durrell, The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium:  I cannot believe that I have spent all these years unaware of this author. An Indian-born Brit, Durrell ranks right up there with Woodehouse in terms of humor. This book was a wonderful collection of truly hilarious short stories. I thoroughly enjoyed the one where Durrell and his family get on to the streamer with a Greek crew, and was laughing out aloud pretty much with every line. His prose is so lyrical, and his narration so straight-forward that one cannot help but wonder at his genius. He has written a handful of books apparently, and I am now adding those to my cart on Amazon!

Garth Stein, The art of Racing in the Rain: This is possibly one of the first novels that made my cry. I finished this in 3 sittings and could have possibly done it faster, if it wasn’t for the need to wake up on time everyday morning. This was a beautifully crafted story (a bit contrived maybe, still) and the narrating dog — Enzo — made for a wonderful character. Although I am not a big fan of racing, I could literally see the cars whizz by me as the author described the races — now that is good writing. This novel deserves all the praise it can get and some more! A must read.

Bill Watterson, Lazy Sunday Book, It’s a Magical World, Scientific Progress goes “Boink”, Revenge of the Baby-Sat:  I am pretty sure I have never chronicled my bordering-on-crazy-love for the brilliant Watterson. Bill Watterson — for those who have no idea who this genius is — is the creator of possibly the best comic series – Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is my all-time-favorite creation. Not only is Watterson brilliant, so it Calvin. I thoroughly enjoy reading Calvin’s fantasies and find myself cheering for him when runs away from festering frenzied foolish aliens, who only want to boil him in the putrid pasta that they have so painstakingly created. These series of books are only a small dip in the ocean that is Calvin-ness. What wonderful reads. Here is one of those one-liners that Calvin comes up with:

If this is not brilliant, then I do not know what is!

Scott Adams, Journey to Cubeville, The Dilbert Principle: Although I worship Calvin, Dilbert is one of my demi-gods…actually, Adams is. What wonderful imagination, what accurate descriptions of office life. Dilbert is a genius. When I discovered that there is a prose-world (The Dilbert Principle) associated with Dilbert, I devoured that. Adams, thank you.

This is turning out to be quite a good summer indeed — and we are just about getting started! 😉

Anush