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Maus

What happens when one does yoga after a long time? The whole body revolts to stretch and fights by making itself sore at places one never realized existed. And so, self decided to take a break from work yesterday, with the revolting body as the excuse. How best to spend a day than watching TV and reading books? There was this book, “Maus” lying around the house for the past couple of months. Knowing it to be about WWII , I was avoiding it till yesterday.


To start with, the book is not just about WWII, though the war is chronicled by the author as dictated by his dad (a Jew). The book is about a father-son relationship, the guilt carried by the son on living in a fairer and nicer world, the parsimonious father who saves every single penny and preserves all junk having struggled through the holocaust. Brought tears at various phases.


There are lot of books about WWII. I think what characterizes this as different is that it is graphic. ( no , not in details, but in pictures) Having read “Winds of War”, this one is less affecting on learning about the ghettos and Auschwitz. But, still tugs at your heart as it is beyond one’s comprehension . The real heroes. The father dictates his story to the son in a very matter of fact way,with no sentiments except during one phase where he starts crying. That clearly shows human nature. After couple of decades, the emotions are far subdued.


In the second phase, when the book dwells more on the current, with the son staying in NY, the author has beautifully shown the father-son love-hate relationship, which one gets to see in many households. The son feels guilty that he is born after the war when the parents have already lost one during the war. There is a page where he says how he feels inferior to the photo of the dead son.


The one that made me cry was the father’s frugality. Having seen the war from the ghettos, fighting for food, starving for days, struggling to live and finally coming out of the inferno alive, morphs him into a human being who doesn’t want to let go of anything and who suspects almost everyone. I guess I saw a lot of fathers in him. My dad bargains for every rupee even now, whether it matters or not. Times have changed, we all have money , but having seen a lot in his 76 years, he just cannot let go of somethings. And, I am sure every family has a similar parent in some aspect or other.


Coming to the name, the book is called “Maus”, mouse in German as all the characters are portrayed as animals . Mouse for jews, Cats for Germans, Pigs for Poles, Dogs for Americans etc… This made me wonder what would suit Indians? ( Tigers, maybe ? ..no, that looks too royal, don’t u think?)

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2010 in Books, General

 

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Piccadilly Jim

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Not one of the best books of P.G.Wodehouse but still a laugh riot. There are two types of people in this world, those who adore P.G W and those who don’t. I belong to the former set. I admire, adore, love,revere,worship P.G.W. P.G W is Pelham Grenvile Wodehouse, but to me, he is Pure Genius Wodehouse.

Ironically, my first PGW novel, during my X Grade, was a huge flop. I tried my hand at one due to constant persuasion from my sister. Couldn’t make heads or tails of it , tried reading it backwards, closed it, started from the beginning, still not understanding,all the time wondering what my sister was laughing about…. Not a pleasant experience, if I may say so. I chucked it with a frown, deciding not to do PG anymore. When I was 23, after my transplant, I was asked to stay home for 2 months with a mask on my face when meeting anyone (Yep !! The one you see people wearing for the Swine flu scare). One of my friends N, lent me his whole collection of PGW to read,saying that might cheer me up. My Oh My !! Thats when I found the real PGW. Brought a smile to my face everyday, made those two months fly away. Even now, whenever I feel depressed and want to lighten up my mood, I go for a PGW. He is the only author who can write a sentence for a full page and God!! the vocabulary !! Just love it.When I sighted this book at Banglore Airport, I bought it in a blink of an eye to add to my collection. It may not have Jeeves, Lord Elmsworth or Psmith ( some of my favourites) , but it is still a PGW.It has all the usual flavours of love,eccentricity and confusion at various thresholds. Regarding this particular novel, it is definitely not his best and you might end up forgetting it.
Browsing the net, I found that Piccadilly Jim has been released as a movie..Cool,huh

This is how it starts…

Chapter 1:

The residence of Mr. Peter Pett, on Riverside Drive, NY,is one of the leading eyesores of that breezy and expensive boulevard. As you pass by in your limousine, or while enjoying ten cents’ worth of fresh air on top of a green omnibus, it jumps out and bites at you. Architects confronted with it reel and throw up their hands defensively , and even the lay observer has a sense of shock. The place resembles in almost equal proportions a cathedral, a suburban villa, a hotel and a Chinese pagoda.

An excerpt :

Mr. Crocker was swallowing convulsively, as if testing his larynx with a view to speech. Like Saul of Tarsus,he had been stricken dumb by the sudden bright light which his wife’s words had caused to flash upon him.

I rest my case.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2009 in Books, General

 

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