True Grit

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You find yourself on the first page of True Grit and are welcomed by this opening paragraph:

People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band.

What a spunky lady! The opening passage prepares you for the woman you are about to meet. Mattie Ross, a no-nonsense, practical, smart-as-a-whip woman of fourteen who’s out to avenge her father’s death. She goes through life as if it were a series of obstacle courses that she can overcome by her intelligence and quick thinking. She never wallows in self pity and somehow doesn’t fully realize the enormity of the situations she finds herself in. And this is what makes her the heroine she is!

Sample her take on whiskey (or intoxication in general):

“I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.”

Her deadpan retorts are especially funny when you imagine her in all her seriousness.

The book lays before you on a platter a generous serving of shootings, hangings and brawls with a nonchalance defying the gravity of said situations. This is a story of the Wild West that’s filled with drama, humor and a touch of romance. It’s a book for everyone, one of the best novels ever. The author, Charles Portis, is an exceptional writer.

To strengthen my case for True Grit, I present to you an excerpt from a rare review (as per this Telegraph article) by Roald Dahl:

“True Grit is the best novel to come my way for a very long time. I was going to say it was the best novel to come my way since…Then I stopped. Since what? What book has given me greater pleasure in the last five years? Or in the last 20? I do not know. I expect some have, but I cannot recall them right now. Marvellous it is. He hasn’t put a foot wrong anywhere. What a writer!”

Need I say more?

 

Recommended for: Everyone

Rating: 9.1/ 10

 

Before the Fall

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A few weeks back, I was reading the latest entry in the How I Work series in Lifehacker. I squealed with delight when I saw Mary Roach! If you don’t know her, go click on that link and we can discuss the book after. I’m not going anywhere.

I digress. Mary Roach mentioned that she was currently reading Noah Hawley’s “Before The Fall”. Who the heck is he, you may ask. He’s the guy who created and wrote the amazing television series Fargo. I would like one more serving of Noah Hawley. Yes, please.

I held the book gleefully, expecting another treasure of dark humor, wit and a few casualties. I must say that there were indeed a few casualties, then again, which book doesn’t?

The main premise of “Before the Fall” is  the crash of a private plane, aboard which were eleven people. Two survive, and the book explores the mystery behind the crash and if there’s more to it than meets the eye. Scott Burroughs, a playboy artist who’s down on his luck (who has no business to be on the private jet, thus attracting suspicion) is one of the ‘lucky’ survivors. He is initially hailed as the hero who saved the four year old boy who was in the plane with him.

The mystery unfolds with a series of flashbacks of the lives of those who were aboard the plane. The book seemed to drag on, because it isn’t entirely interesting to read about eleven people unless they’re quirky personalities with psychopathic tendencies. If I were to assign a personality to the book, it would be that of a confused millennial who’s trying to find his “most authentic” voice. On occasions, the book reads as a political drama, in others an emotional one, sometimes a thriller, with an undercurrent of a detective story. Another thing that disappointed me was that there was none of the trademark Fargo dark humor, which was the main reason I picked up the book. And the anti climatic ending felt like a practical joke that was played on the reader.

I wonder if Mary Roach is as disappointed as I am.

Rating: 6.1/10

 

 

Stranger Things

Stranger Things seems to be the new matcha tea of Instagram, everyone’s talking about it! I’m usually hesitant to hop onto bandwagons: be they TV series, movies, books. I still haven’t partaken of Game of Thrones, or The Girls (the book by Emma Cline) which cements my oddball status (which I feel is an integral part of my personality). But for some mysterious reason, I dove right into this one!

This series is set in 1983, Indiana. Essentially, the first season is about a preteen who goes missing and the rest of the series deals with searching for him. Which doesn’t seem particularly exciting.

The cast was convincing and the performance was pretty good. The kids were a pleasure to watch. Especially Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin, the boy with the lisp. Brownie points for the synth music which adds to the dangerous-mysterious-creature-on-the-prowl vibe that you get throughout the series. I’m not an 80’s kid, but it made me nostalgic for the 80’s!

It’s really hard to put my finger on why exactly I loved Stranger Things, seeing that it relied on a lot of horror tropes (flickering lights, jump scares), The Government as a Bad Man, A teenage love triangle. Would it be ditzy of me to say that I loved it because the series felt so sincere and it had a soul? I was immersed in the story, I felt like I was one of the residents of Hawkins, Indiana as opposed to a fly on the wall. It’s as if the makers want you to know that this is a cheesy science fiction drama and enjoy watching the strange creature terrify the wonderful residents of this little town. And once you watch it with that mindset, you’re in for a treat!

Rating: 7.8/10