Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The BAD GIRL - Mario Vargas Llosa

Just finished reading "The BAD GIRL" of Mario Vargas Llosa. This book released end of last year is already making waves with some great reviews and recomendations.

Very nicely 'written' book about a Peruvian expatriate (Ricardo) living in Paris as translator , interpreter with UNESCO and his love affair with the BAD GIRL.

Lily came into his world as a 14 year old in his Miraflores neighborhood of Lima and he was smitten by her charm at the first instance. This lady follows ( he calls him the BADGIRL) him in his life and dreams ... from the disguised Chilean girl in his neighborhood, later as a revolutionary on her way to Cuba (whom he meets in Paris and helps her to get away to Cuba) , as the wife of a French Diplomat (Madam Arnaux) , as the wife of a English entrepreneur in London , the keep of a Japanese gangster in Tokyo, returning to him all broke and in disarray after every adventure before leaving him again. She is treated in Paris with his money and marries him later in order to obtain legal papers in France. She again leaves him to lead her preferred life before returning to him, sick and lost. While she is trying to disguise her origin and her background from him, he could not get over with his love for her. She like many , is after power, money , adventure, continue to leave him in search of these pleasures.

It is also about the dualities of life. The good boy and Bad girl , lust and indifferent, poverty and power , love and betrayal , countrymen and expatriates , domination and submission....

Llosa also discusses the falling living standards and the political and military commentary , through the letters and discussions of his uncle Ataulfo with Ricardo and the disappointment of the educated and qualified youth with the regime. Like all other work of this master story teller, the language and the style is good, but there is no meat. This book fails to give me any new insight. However, from a pure fiction point of view , it is very good and recommended.

I borrow the words from a review I read to summarise - " But for all its thoughtful tackling of complex themes, The Bad Girl is certainly not all seriousness; as the Washington Post declares, "Obviously, the novel was written for the sheer fun of it -"the fun for Vargas Llosa in writing it, the fun for us in reading it."
Many readers and reviewers have compared this to Madam Bovary, with possible influence from Flaubert. However, to me, this book evoked the memories of reading "Love in the Time of Cholera". May be for the perpetual wait for their love. Believe me, there are no comparison..

I always believed, that Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the writers who deserve the Nobel Prize for Literature. Though not in the league of "Death in the Andes" or "War of the end of the World" , this book definitely contribute to the cause.

Mario Vargas Llosa
Translated by Edith Grossman
Faber &Faber
276 Pages
Rs 495

PS : I'm particularly fond of the beginning and end sentences of the fiction I read. Here is the last line of this book : "At least admit I've given you the subject for a novel. Haven't I , good boy ?"

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Curse of the Golden Flower - Yimou Zhang

I watched this movie by the Chinese Director Zhang Yimou yesterday , called "Curse of the Golden Flower". Very impressive. Little too colorful and extravagant for a movie, but the story undertone and the performances were very good.
This is about the 10 century Tang Dynasty emperor, and the in-house power struggle. Well crafted screen play and editing.

The over use of the set, colours, stunt choreography and costumes does take away some of the cinematic values, though.

for details on the story and other credits , check this

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The fan-maker's inquisition - Rikki Ducornet

"I stink, therefore I am ", says Sade in this interesting novel by Rikki Ducornet. "The world, some time can be known through the body".

Believe me, I would not have bought this book, if not for the tag I saw on the price. It said ,

Original Price Rs 602
Special Price Rs 60
You save Rs 542.

What ? Shouldn't it be 10% discount and the price 542 was there a typo error ? I called the assist and he confirmed the price is Rs 60 !! Hmm, that would be interesting and what kind of a book would it be whose value depreciated by 90% and yet no one wants to pick ?
I generally glanced through the book and the opening line had caught me off-guard. Here it is..

- A fan is like the thighs of a woman: It opens and closes. A good fan opens with a flick of the wrist. It produces its own weather - a breeze not so strong as to muss the hair.

Wow. I remembered some of the great opening lines.. The one from One hundred years of solitude, the one from Anna Karenina ... ( check this for more of them ). I was impressed with the "it produces its own weather" and not necessarily the first line :-)

The cover also said "A Novel of the Marquis de Sade ". Marquis de Sade is one of the most controversial character in the history of literature, and having read few article about him and the anti-social writings during his time, I was curious to read about him.

The novel is about the interrogation of Gabrielle ( the fan-maker) about her friendship with Marquis de Sade, who is serving the sentence at the prison , during the french revelution. Gabrielle had to defend her relationship with Sade and to had to justify her collaboration with Sade on his writing of Bishop Diego de Landa's torturous treatment to the Mayan people and their culture. Beautifully written by the author it gives us glimpses of the life of Marquis de Sade, through the letters written to and by Gabriella ( the fan maker) with Sade and his writings of a novel on the Spanish inquisition, his memoirs from the prison about his childhood and the testimonials by Gabriella. Though Gabriella is able to protect him on his writing on the account of Artistic intentions with the inquisition committee of the revolution, she is not able to escape beheading for her relationship with her female lover, Olympe de Gouges.

Marquiz de Sade recollects his childhood time he spent with his uncles and his library had shaped his character and his writing. He writes ," she told my uncle that I would be a force to be reckoned with". "And what sort of force would that be ?" . "Of nature" , I said. "I wish to be a force of the nature".

Very sensuous and erotic, and very well researched book on Marquis de Sade by the author. I found this book very enjoyable and an easy read. And before I sign off, remember this.. "There is nothing forbidden by nature. All is permitted."
The Fan-Makers Inquisition
Rikki Ducornet
Ballantine Books
212 Pager
Original price Rs 602

PS : I have also found some nice little quotes; here are some

A book is a private thing, citizen; it belongs to the one who writes it and to the one who reads it. Like the mind itself, a book is a private space. Within that space, anything is possible. The greatest evil and the greatest good.

I'm certain that if we could navigate Infinity, the closer we'd get to the stars, the more we would feel at home.

What are books but Tangible dreams ? What are reading if it is not dreaming ? The best books cause us to dream; the rest are not worth reading.