Bookends of life


Utterly random post. Most of my posts are random anyway. This one is being keyed in while am on a flight. Bored with music and the videos and the books.

So yes there is birth and then there is death. The two bookends of a book called life.

In between you have a total page turner.

There is a preface written by our parents. Their expectations – should it be a boy or a girl. What they want the children to be when they grow up.

The epilogue is perhaps written by our kids.

But what happens in between, every word and every page, keeps us turning the page with eagerness. Sure we all want to know how it ends but hey we don’t get to know that.

Every page unfolds the story line by line. We try very hard to define the plot. We try to force certain scenes to happen in a way on the next page. Anxious and eager to make the story happen as per our wishes. Doesn’t happen.

There are pages that make us feel all elated. The excitement that starts from deep within and the anticipation of what happens next.

Then there are pages which fill us with sadness. Sometimes even guilt and remorse. The protagonist could have… should have behaved or acted differently.

But here lies the fun. It is us and only us who make the book an utter page turner. Unknowingly we are writing what is going to happen on the next page. If you were to quickly move to the pages ahead, you will find them blank. Some pages could be blurry because the plot is taking shape on the previous pages. But we will never know how things turn out till we reach that page.

There are pages we revisit. Some are fresh and some are blurred. Some revisited pages make us cry and some laugh. Those are the memories.

But sadly, most of us don’t have the patience or the control to let the plot unfold on its own. We push and we force and we keep rewriting the pages to make the story happen way we want it to. Doesn’t work. It may seem that we have the plot in our grasp but it ain’t. There is always a twist that is waiting for us on the next page.

I say why guess or anticipate or wish for the story to happen the way we want? Let’s have fun with what is happening on the page you are reading. Let the next page be utter surprise. Build the anticipation for that surprise. Not for the way we want it to happen. Good or bad, it sure as hell is going to be a surprise and a twist. And that twist could be twisted or untwisted on the page that follows. FUN!

Climax, when it happens, we don’t know how it is going to happen but it is the culmination of what we have read, what we have formed on each page we read.

One thing I would have wanted in the book though (here is me wishing for stuff), as we read along, the pages that we have read, go blank. It’s like the story is only about reading ahead. No going back to read the back pages.

THE BOOK OF LIFE IS ONE TIME READ ONLY.

Escape Hatch


11.22.63

Been reading 11.22.63 by Stephen King for past month or so. Its over 700 pages.

Unlike all the other books I read, I go real slow with Stephen King books. As I have said in the past, his books are a totally immersive experience. One needs to savour every word.

Won’t write a review of the book, in case there are people out there who are still reading it or planning to read it. But whats available as back cover, Jake Epping travels back in time to stop the assassination of Kennedy.

It’s a portal in a diner that allows him to time travel. It is his escape hatch. One he can use to escape the past. Or he can use when his job is done.

Made me think. What if we also had an escape hatch. A portal that will allow us to travel back and forth in time. Something that will help us escape to safety. Something that will let us escape, come back in a different time period and change things for the better. Wishful thinking.

I bet all of us would love to have this escape hatch. Though am not very sure how many of us would want to use it all the time. As the books says, past will try its level best to stop us from changing it. There is a reason for it. Things were meant to happen in a certain way and to go back and change things, we are probably messing with the reality of our lives.

All of us have those instances in the past that we so wish we could change. And those changes could make our lives different from what it is now.

Sometime back I had written a post about what if we could go back in time. Premonition perhaps that I was going to read this book.

And here is another kicker. I have said you don’t pick up a Stephen King book on a whim or a fancy. You buy them when it is time. This book was published in 2011 I think. I had seen it on stands. I had skimmed through it. But I never bought it till a month back. Perhaps, in my head there were thoughts about hoping to go back in time and changing things. I don’t know. Maybe I am looking for that escape hatch…

I am sure many of us want that hatch…

Train ride with Harry Bosch


I just had to write this post. This post is more for me than for people to comment on. Like I said on Monday, fingers are restless to type.

So I had one busy day yesterday. Didn’t get time to pick up a book for the journey. Did pass the book stand at the airport. Saw Bazaar of Bad Dreams but it didn’t urge me to buy… Not time yet.

Whole day was busy and railway station is not the best place to get the kind of books I read.

I was travelling in a long distance train after a long long time.

5pm the train started and by 6.30 I was extremely restless with absolutely nothing to do… Usually in hour and half we hear the pilot announcing that we have started our descent… Scrolled through my apps and realised that ‘The Burning Room’ was still there in Flipkart e-books. Of course I had read it earlier. But hey, long train ride ahead and a Harry Bosch book to read (even a read one) was a great combination.

Nobody ever has quite figured out why Michael Connelly is my favourite author or why I keep talking about Harry Bosch.

I read the first Harry Bosch book in 2008 and over the last 8 years, I have done his life journey of about 22 years across many books…

Right from the first book, I felt I could identify with him… Relate to him. And as he grew old and the way his life panned out, with some exceptions, I feel like its my life.

His passion and obsessive commitment to his work… It mirrors my obsession.

His love for his daughter…

His zeal to always do the right thing even at the cost of antagonizing people around him…

His disregard for authority in pursuing his objective.

His suffering when those authorities leave him out in the cold.

I so identify with all of that. Though am not a cop.

Just like him, I can’t imagine doing anything but what I have chosen as my profession. It makes me want to wake up and be at work every morning.

I am also the first one at work and sipping on my coffee way before anyone else arrives at work.

I have kinda gone through hell too by doing the right thing.

But most of all, I think that like Harry, am a loner… Focused on the things I want to focus on. Not great at relationships and friends…

It is not easy to understand him… Or me for that matter. You have to take time. Like I keep saying, all good things in life are a slow burn…

Train rides are a good time to evaluate yourself and the choices you have made in your life. A time for introspection. Because there is nothing else to do. And I am not the one who will engage in conversation with fellow travellers.

As the train hurtles through nothingness, it takes us on a ride deep within ourselves. There are no answers that emerge from that ride. No destination that is reached except for the one that we reach ultimately when we get off the train. But it is good to spend time with yourself.

I spent the night reading, thinking, yearning… And then it was morning.

Couple of hours more and I will reach the physical destination but mentally where I need to be, no clue… Nor do I want to have the clue…

Bazaar Of Bad Dreams


Ok so the title of the post sounds weird as hell right?

It is courtesy the new book by Stephen King I picked up last evening at Kolkata airport.

After a long time I picked up a book by him. And here is to add to the weirdness quotient further. And I would like to check with other fans of his if this is true.

I have never bought his book just because I saw it on the shelf. Sure that was the case with the first book that I bought but never after that.

I see his new book, I do go through the cover, open random pages and keep it back. There is something in my mind that needs to connect, the longing needs to happen. And when it does, I buy. Till then, they keep beckoning you… The title and the cover keeps playing in your head.. Till the mind decides that it is ready to get immersed… Some kind of deep intervention that happens and you are drawn in…

His books are like that… Word by word..page by page they pull you in.. Away from reality and yet very real… They play with your head at multiple levels…it happens to me with every book. They are not page turners like normal thrillers.. You turn the page because you turn into the protagonist..and it is your life unfolding with every page you turn…

Most of his books have pages… Hundreds of them… Because life does not get over in just one hundred pages…

I have lived through many of his books… Many of his characters.. There are times when I pull out one of his books again..to find myself…

People who have picked up his books on a whim have either found them scary or didn’t have patience to be drawn in. Well they were not meant for you then.. The darkness that engulfs you through his books, you are not ready for that darkness yet.

I don’t know how many of his fans will agree with me… But in all of his books.. The scare and the horror is just a track playing on the surface… Deep down, his books are about melancholy, a loss, a longing, unrequited love… Of course all of it was explicit and gripping in “Hearts in Atlantis” but in all the other books… You can feel it if you become the character…

His books have never scared me (and no its not because boys and men are never supposed to be scared) but they have always left me with an ache… They have taken me back in the past or connected with something in the present.. A sense of deep loss… And I have a feeling that I buy his books when at a sub conscious level am feeling that… That’s when the connect between me and the book is the strongest. I gravitate towards darkness…or its the darkness that calls me…

I think I was not ready for the “Bazaar of Bad Dreams” yet.. Because it got left behind on the aircraft… Had read only two stories… Probably in the collection there were a few that I wasn’t meant to read right now…

I have not mentioned pretty much all the books that I have read by Stephen King because this post is not about mentioning that.. This post is about what he does to you with his books…

For the people who haven’t read his books, this post will sound banal and boring… But to those who connect the way I do, they will know…

Jack Reacher


Nope.. this post is not about the really bad movie that was released last December. the casting director for that movie should have been sacked for choosing Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher!

For the many who are not aware of Jack Reacher, he is a character in all the Lee Child books. Now I don’t think there are many out there who would not have read any of his books. The pseudo-intellectuals would probably call his books pulp and trash.

Now why should I pick him for a blog post?? Well for one, I have pretty much read every Jack Reacher book and here is a brief description about the character courtesy Wikipedia:

Jack Reacher is a former Major in the United States Army Military Police Corps. He was born on a military base in Berlin on 29 October 1960. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he served 13 years in the Military Police, during which time he became part of a fictional military police unit, the 110th Special Investigations Unit, formed to handle exceptionally tough cases, especially those involving members of the U.S. Army Special Forces.

Though he was demoted from Major to Captain in the prequel novel The Enemy, he regained his rank by the time he mustered out in 1997. He received many military awards during his career, including the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983.[citation needed]

Since leaving the Army, Reacher has been a drifter. He wanders throughout the U.S. because he was accustomed to being told where to go, when to go and what to do for every day of his life from military childhood to military adulthood. He also felt he never got to know his own country, having spent much of his youth living overseas on military bases and at West Point. He usually travels by hitchhiking or bus. As a drifter, the only possessions he carries are money, a foldable toothbrush and, after 9/11, an expired passport and an ATM debit card.

And to add to this.. as the radio spot for one of his novels said – Women want him and men want to be like him!

Once you read his books, you also realize that for him, justice is important. He wont stand back and watch an innocent getting trampled upon. He is a loner and yet it doesn’t stop him from taking on the bad guys or the establishment.

There are similarities between Jack and my other favorite character – Harry Bosch… Both live a life that is filled with loneliness and yet there are always people around them… However both of them quite never form a long-term relationship.

And while Jack never mentions it but somehow he follows what Harry believes in – Everybody counts or nobody counts.. It’s the sense of righteousness that runs through both.

Harry roams the streets of L.A. while Jack is in the countryside of US.

I am sure like me… there would be few others who have seen both Harry and Jack evolve and have lived their lives through every book… What is it about these characters that make us associate with them. Age perhaps must be one of the things. I haven’t heard of anyone young talking about either of them… Second I think is their belief system. Out in the real world, all of us want to go up against everything that is wrong but we don’t… because we don’t have the courage to do so… because that would need living like the two of them do and it would surely be in dissonance with the societal norms. And we console ourselves that it is easy in a book… not in real life! True… absolutely true… so we live the lives of Harry & Jack in our head and in every book… And yes.. at some level one also yearns for an Eleanor Wish or a  Rachel Walling or a Jodie Gerber.. and also (now this is something most guys I bet crave for) the way Jack & Harry move on… not because they are womanizer or philanderer but because they can’t be held back. For them, there is a world out there and while they don’t say it explicitly, it needs them…

There is a drifter and a vagabond in all of us.. wanting to break free and move through the vast landscape of life… with a strong sense of purpose… but that drifter in us never breaks free and never will… It will always stay in deep recesses of our minds… and in every novel we read by Lee Childs and Micheal Connelly…

Life with Harry Bosch


Cover of "The Reversal (Harry Bosch)"
Cover of The Reversal (Harry Bosch)

Over the weekend I read the new Michael Connelly book “The Reversal“. Reading of the book has led to this post.. as is obvious. Harry Bosch figures in the book… along with his half-brother Mickey Haller. Decent book but it left a lot to be desired and I will come back to it later but first… Harry Bosch.

I have read every single Harry Bosch novel in past 4 years. Have followed his life from “The Black Echo” to “9 Dragon”. Let me rephrase… not followed but lived his life. From his undying spirit to follow an investigation (no matter where it leads or who is the culprit) to his run ins with the establishment (probably a bit of me in there)… to the aspect of his personality which never lets him open up even to people who are so close to him… whether it is Eleanor Wish or Rachel Walling and not surprising enough… he never has a long-lasting relationship… they walk in and walk out of his life…

Michael Connelly’s writing style has always ensured that every Harry Bosch book is an immersive experience. Places mentioned in the book feel so familiar… the overlook on the Mullholland Drive… Farmer’s Market… Parker Center… From 40 to 60… two decades of living Harry Bosch… Going back into the book cabinet and taking the books out to read them again.. and again… and again… saying hello to Harry Bosch every time and finding something new…

Sure there are other books and characters that Michael C has etched in his books but Harry Bosch is well… Harry Bosch…

I have read books since I was 10 and that was so long back and the number of books I have read… never have I looked forward to a new book as I have for a Michael C book or rather a Harry Bosch book.

Coming back to “The Reversal”. Knowing Michael Connelly, there surely would be a reason for a lot closer interaction between Harry, Mickey and Maggie.. and the jealous Mickey when Harry and Maggie travel out of LA together. Or for Hayley (Mickey and Maggie’s daughter) and Maddie (Harry’s daughter) to come together… not to miss the appearance of Rachel Walling and her meeting Mickey… The book was a  nice read but it lacked intensity… Yes it had the Harry Bosch moments of him going off on his own and chasing his train of thought and coming up trumps.. But something was amiss…I think it was the balancing act that Michael C tried.. giving equal pages to Mickey and Harry… sure didn’t work for me… Mickey sections almost felt like an interruption in the narrative and I was a little disappointed with the book.

I want a Harry Bosch book… pure unadulterated Harry Bosch with no family in it.. the crusader who will rub people the wrong way and single mindedly follow what he believes is right… wonder if it would happen… so much has changed in LAPD and he soon may retire… but one last hurrah… that one book which would make people appreciate Harry and make others wonder why they could not look deeper inside him and believe in the person he truly was..

Is Mr Michael Connelly listening?