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My brief thoughts on, Salman Rushdie’s : The Satanic Verses

Although the title may be confronting and off putting for many readers… I decided to read “The Satanic Verses” By Salman Rushdie. It definitely was not what I expected.

I don’t think I have ever read a book by an Indian Author, Mostly fascinated by European and American Authors, this came as a pleasant surprise.

Both from the context of Indian life and the life of Indians abroad, especially in the UK, it gave context for life of immigrants in the UK, their feeling of treatment by the English as well as feelings in India for the English, although this aspect of the book was secondary… or maybe not.

The title of the books relates to the schizophrenic thoughts and behaviour of an Indian actor, in context (not really understood till later in the book), I can see how this book drew so much controversy in the Muslim world, the author himself being subject off a fatwah for his writing. The thoughts of the author are fairly obvious, rejection of religion, the sanctity of “Holy” word, passed on by Muhammad – mouth of God… the book questions both the old context and rise of Islam as well as placing heavy weight on how someone claiming to speak for God would be received today… in the book, heavily Medicated and potentially institutionalised.

The books could be viewed as heretical by some, but it is quite beautiful, even though I found myself lost on the shifting realities of protagonists, the various foreign names, I found I lost track of who I was reading about every few pages. Parts of the book were overly sexualised , reminding me heavily of the works of Phillip Roth.

Apart from the religious context of the book, there were many human aspect that the author dealt with expertly, through love, jealousy, lust, loss & death – I found myself glued to nearly every page, I wanted to know how the author would tie the many ideas together, and in a way the author attempted to separate himself from some of it, by hiding behind a characters mental illness, and I think necessarily to avoid backlash from religious fanatics (allowing for deniability), I did not find any of it offensive, but then again it’s not my religion, many valid points that I have used myself speaking with devout friends and acquaintances… and it can easily relate to Christianity if one lets it. It also gives context to my own rantings about religion at times and the potential offence I may have caused in the past (some food for thought on a personal level).

Overall a quite brilliant book, sometimes comical, but not in the extreme. Apart from religion, it looks at immigration, with assimilation as well as as rejection of values placed by the host country… If you would want to see what life perhaps is like for foreigners in your country, I would highly recommend this book to you… if you have a strong stomach for the irreverent, I must warn you the first half of the books without context or guidance from the author can seem bizarre, well not seem, it is.

I am glad that I read it, never wise to judge a book by it’s cover or in this case “title”.

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“Revolution 19” by Gregg Rosenblum – A short review

So I read and reviewed a John Lennon book earlier today, it left a stale taste in my mind.. So I went looking for a book that would hopefully be more appetising. I chose Revolution 19, because the title tag caught my eye and had a great front cover. “We built them to save us. Now they want to destroy us.” I was hoping for another Terminator / I Robot type book…

What I got was a very simple story, crafted I think for teenagers or possibly younger, the story itself was a nice read… With streaming services lately not having much to offer, I have been trying to motivate myself to read more… As simple entertainment that can be read in a few hours.. This book filled the role well. I kept wanting to know how the story evolved.. If you are looking for intellectual content… the book may offer a shred of philosophy – and hopefully incite a need to look further, plenty of holes in the technological side of things, seeing as the book was written in 2012, and set in 2049 or so… It feels like the author was a layman and refused to do research into technology or robotics etc and felt like I was reading a 1950’s vision of robots and the level of technology humanity and a self aware robot race could have.

Apart from that, the technology set the stage for a story.. and it was fun enough to read. If you are looking for safe book for your kids to read, to get them away from their Playstation or XBox, this would be a great choice… a small amount of violence, some death and execution of prisoners, and no sex etc. But it did introduce some cool concepts like social re-education one might encounter in a totalitarian system, I don’t think the book was pushing politics, there was no euphemism for any real life government… Pure science fiction entertainment…. And sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that.

Nice enough book, hardly challenging. Some food for thought, but not much. A nice enough story that will keep the reader interested till the end, and opens for the possibility of a sequel. Thumbs up from me 🙂 Not great but definitely not terrible.

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“Skywriting by Word of Mouth” by John Lennon – A Short Review

Having admired and loved “The Beatles” & John Lennon for their music my entire grown up life, I decided to read “Skywriting by Word of Mouth” as I had purchased with a large lot of Beatles related non fiction titles.

I was expecting something brilliant… and perhaps to someone out there it is… maybe someone who has a better idea of the life of John Lennon and the Beatles, there are most likely very personal references to people etc. But I was left with a feeling of dissapointment.

The book grabbed me as the ramblings of a LSD raddled irrational mind.. jumping from attempted humour to pure gibberish… I got the feeling that this was a cross between James Joyce “Ulysses”, an Andy Warhol picture, A Bob Dylan song from the 60’s and elements of Monty Python movies.

It didn’t take long to read maybe 3 hours.. but I was constantly checking page numbers to see how long I would have to survive this drivel. I had great respect for John Lennon and if not for his fame I doubt this book would have been published.. Perhaps it was never meant to.. sold off for money by Yoko Ono… the last 2 pages are devoted to her description of John leaving her letters and odd musings to make her laugh… I feel perhaps a lot of this book was in-talk / secret language between the couple, words and sentences designed to have significance and humor for their perspective.

To me it was the drug addled schizophrenic writing of someone belonging in rehab or the psych ward – or if deliberately written in this style… Overly pretentious. With a heavy heart I write this… I was expecting genius and instead got a crazy disturbed vibe from this.. I don’t know what his state of mind was… But the book left me with a stale taste in my mouth and the level of admiration I had for one of my favorite artists diminishing.

I may have not understood the point… perhaps no one was meant to…

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My thoughts about Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in A Strange Land” – A Short Book Review.

I am a member of several groups on Facebook where people share their experiences reading books like Frank Herbert’s “Dune” – Someone suggested that Frank Herbert was inspired by Robert Heinlein’s ‘Stranger In A Strange Land” also a funnily enough coincidental reference in Disneys (Star Wars) “Book of Boba Fett” the first episode was called “Stranger in A Strange Land”.

Having this book on my shelf, and not having read this, but having read several other Robert Heinlein books in the past… I decided to give “Stranger In A Strange Land” a read.

I must say I don’t read anywhere as much as I used to, but over the last year I have started reading again.. And happily have found I can focus for intense reading sessions, being able to read a book in 1-2 days of solid reading.

I liked the philosophical musings in the 1st half… societal conditioning, the nature of humanity, politics etc. the second half was more the “story as such” dealing with identity, sex, transformation and religion. I liked it.. especially the 1st half was impressed by the author and the introduction of intellectual content in an easier to follow format (fiction) – as opposed to reading Bertrand Russel, Friedrich Nietzsche (that i encountered in university).

The book was great, although some the 60’s type hippie counterculture in Sci fi that i encountered in other books… by John Boyd and others, the dated role of women (sexually and their limited roles in society) – i think perhaps these books pushed feminist progress 60’s to 90’s to the levels of equalilty and equity we are starting to have now.

The book felt a little dated, but the authors main point about changing the way we think as a society is still very valid today… perhaps of instead of learning to think in martian (Not necessarily Martian… but the “other”) as in the book to stimulate progress…. The idea that linguistics and the language we learn to think in develops societal norms and ethics….

Having spoken to several members of the group who had read the book, they suggested that we are already changing language in terms of identity and inclusion for the younger generations, perhaps over the next century we can redefine language to offset the need for material gain, jealousy and other mitigating reasons for injustice and inequality globally. I’m not suggesting something as drastic as Orwell’s “New Speak” but I am fairly sure 1984 would have been an inspiration for “Stranger in A Strange Land”

I have now slept on the book, I am not sure to what level I interpreted the book in my sleep but in the spirit of ‘Stranger in A Strange Land”, i must still fully grok it. (think on and assimilate the data).

A truly wonderful book, well worth reading.. as with other Robert Heinlein books, there is a lot of food for thought, so many concepts to consider, I feel I may understand a little more about our world after reading it.

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A Short Book Review – “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

I went treasure hunting earlier today, well officially yesterday in 2 minutes (almost midnight here). I had been hoping for months to pickup a hard cover copy of “The Book Thief”, alas no luck, however I picked up a decent reading copy today.. I had hoped to find some time to read it over the next week…

Once I started reading, I could not put the book down. I got through a 3rd, thought maybe I can get halfway through today… Half way came then 2/3rds until I had finished… In a 10 hour session I got through the 580+ page book. It was so easy to read, simple language with a spattering of the occasional German (usually with the English version following shortly.

Without any spoilers, the narrator of the story was Death – and it followed the story of a young German girl through out WWII in Germany, her foster family & friends. The writing was dynamic, it jumped a little in the timeline, I think this made for more compelling story telling. I’ve not encountered a book previously from a German perspective… Parts of the book reminded me of some of Maxim Gorky’s autobiographical writing, it was a pleasure to read. The author does an amazing job of presenting fiction in a realistic enough way.

Initially I assumed this was some sort of teen fiction, but the tone is adult orientated… the themes deal with concepts such as death, loss, humanity and also inhumanity. It was a lovely read and not what I was expecting. I don’t read anywhere as much as I used to, but I feel a rising need to tackle more books. Really glad I found a reading copy of this today. I picked up another Markus Zusak book a few weeks ago, and I may read that soon.

I would thoroughly recommend reading this book, in the right headspace I think it would be possible to read in one weekend (yes I read it in a 10 hour session – but that required abandoning all responsibilities for the entire day).

Check out the blog for more book reviews and treasure hunting adventures.