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I watched highlights of some old, classic Roland Garros matches, in preparation for this year’s event, which starts this weekend.

The first match I watched was the McEnroe-Lendl final from 1984. I’ve read a lot about this match, but this was the first time I was watching. McEnroe played serve-and-volley tennis and outplayed Lendl in the first two sets! Imagine! Serve-and-volley tennis being played at Roland Garros! Won’t happen today 😊 Then Lendl came back and won the next three sets, inspite of being a break down repeatedly and won his first grand slam. Lendl was probably the Rafael Nadal of his time and McEnroe was probably the Roger Federer. But this is not a perfect comparison, because Lendl’s game was beautiful to watch, and his backhand was almost like Federer’s – such a pleasure to watch. McEnroe’s serve-and-volley game and his net play were brilliant. I’ve heard old-timers say that McEnroe was outrageously talented and he showed what he could do with a serve-and-volley game on a clay court. Though I have to also say that I’ve watched recordings of Martina Navratilova’s matches, and her serving-and-volleying and netplay were even more brilliant than McEnroe’s. I was expecting the match to be tame and unimpressive, because it happened a long time back, and old matches look that way today, because we are used to the speed and the athleticism of today’s players. I once watched the highlights of a Borg-Lendl French Open final and it looked pretty lame. After that I decided not to watch old matches but just read about them. But surprisingly this McEnroe-Lendl match looked quite good, even today.

The next match I watched was the Graf-Seles final from 1992. It was very competitive and it went quite close in the third set. I didn’t know that Seles had a double-handed forehand! I’ve never seen a player with a double-handed forehand! She was the first player from the former Yugoslavia to win so many grand slams, and I’m wondering how much of an inspiration she must have been to Novak Djokovic and other contemporary players from the region. Seles had Graf’s number at that time, and if that tragic event hadn’t happened, she would have beaten Margaret Court’s record. Seles won 8 grand slams while she was a teenager! It must be a record even now, I think.

Looking forward to watching the Serena-Henin 2003 match highlights today evening. I still don’t know how Henin beat Serena with her single-handed backhand! None of the women play with a single-handed backhand now. Except for two exceptions. There is a British doubles player, whose name I can’t remember, who plays with a single-handed backhand. Then there is one of my favourite players, Viktorija Golubic, who plays with a single-handed backhand. Everytime Golubic plays in a grand slam, I watch the whole match. It doesn’t matter whether she wins or loses. When she unfurls her single-handed backhand, it is so beautiful that my heart leaps with delight. It is more beautiful than Federer’s single-handed backhand, more beautiful than even Richard Gasquet’s single-handed backhand, and definitely much more beautiful than Tsitsipas’ or Wawrinka’s single-handed backhand. I hope Golubic plays for many more years and delights her fans.

Tennis is not just about winning and losing – it is about beauty, it is about aesthetic pleasure, it is kinetic art. That is why we watch Federer, that is why we watch Barbora Krejcikova, that is why we watch Richard Gasquet, that is why we watch Viktorija Golubic, that is why we watch Dustin Brown, that is why we watch Hsieh Su-wei, and that is why we rave about Agnieszka Radwanska, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, Miloslav Mecir, Pat Rafter, eventhough they have long since retired.

Can’t wait for the French Open to start now 😊 Are you looking forward to the French Open?

I woke up today morning to the heartbreaking news that Andrew Symonds, one of my favourite cricketers, affectionately called Roy, had passed away in a car accident.

I first heard of Andrew Symonds, when he was literally unknown. He used to play county cricket for Gloucestershire and he suddenly came in the papers when he hit 16 sixes in a match. It created a lot of waves and people started asking who this burly cricketer was who was hitting the ball out of the park. The English selectors wasted no time, and tried selecting him into the English team. Symonds however revealed his heart, when he said that he was Australian and he’d like to play for Australia. Before long, he was selected into the Australian team. The Australian selectors and team management did a disservice to him though and looked at him as an all-rounder and selected him into the One Day team. Symonds was no all-rounder. He was one of the most destructive batsmen around, and he was the heir to Viv Richards before Adam Gilchrist and A.B.De Villiers came along. But Symonds took it on his chin, tried to do justice as an all-rounder, and bowled medium pace and spin, and batted in the lower order. I still remember the hundred he made in the 2003 World Cup, when Australia had lost their top order for not much, in the match against Pakistan, and Symonds hit a hundred and powered them past 300 and to a famous win. After a few years, Symonds was selected into the test team, and he made his presence felt as a batsman. I still remember his first test hundred that he made at the MCG with his mate Matthew Hayden looking on from the other end. One of my favourite images of Symonds was during the initial years of the IPL, when he played for the Hyderabad team, which used to be called Deccan Chargers those days. The image of Symonds, Afridi, Gibbs prowling the field, with Gilchrist standing behind the stumps and captaining the team, they all patting each other’s backs, doing high-fives and bantering on the field – this has to be one of the great legendary images from any cricket match. Watching these guys bat together for the same team, smashing the ball out of the park – this was the stuff cricket fans’ dreams were made of.

It was a heartbreaking day for me, when Symonds was dropped from the Australian team. Michael Clarke felt threatened by him because the young members of the team loved Symonds and Clarke was the Vice Captain and used his clout and cooked up charges against Symonds and got him dropped from the team. It was sad that Ricky Ponting didn’t stand up for his mate Symonds and just let his Vice Captain Clarke do all the damage. Symonds just played 26 tests and had a 40 run average. It was a nothing record for one of the most destructive batsmen of his generation, who didn’t get the opportunities he deserved. Clarke didn’t stop there. He was one of the most insecure cricketers and captains I’ve seen, because he got Simon Katich dropped from the Australian team without any reason, and then threatened to drop Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson from the test team. Unfortunately for him, Johnson and Watson were T20 stars while Clarke was not and Clarke’s machinations didn’t work this time.

It still feels unbelievable and surreal and I’m still reeling from shock. I remember the time a few years back when Symonds and his mate Hayden got stuck in the middle of the ocean with just a piece of wood to hang on to, and they both swam for many hours before reaching the shore. This was quintessential Symonds (and quintessential Hayden) – always unfazed and handling any kind of challenge with a cool mind. It always gives me goosebumps when I think about this. Now it is hard to believe that a man who took on the ocean and won, has passed away in a freak car accident. Symonds was still young, he was just 46. He had a long life ahead of him.

The last two years have been quite sad for Australian cricket off the field. First Dean Jones passed away in the middle of a commentary stint. Then Rod Marsh passed away after an illness. Then on the same day, Shane Warne passed away unexpectedly, and today Andrew Symonds has passed away in an accident. It is so heartbreaking.

Thank you Roy for all the memories. Thank you for gracing our favourite game and thank you for playing gloriously and giving us many unforgettable moments. We’ll never forget you, and we’ll always miss you. Good night sweet prince! May flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest!

After reading one Kateřina Tučková, I decided to read another 😊 It was ‘The Last Goddess‘.

Dora is researching on her family’s past. At the same time she is also researching on female healers from her hometown, who were traditionally persecuted as witches in previous centuries, but who were called ‘goddesses’ in her hometown. These two areas of research intertwine, of course – what is the fun otherwise – because we discover that Dora’s aunt who brought her up, her mother who died when she was young, her grandmother and her female ancestors all formed a long line of ‘goddesses’, who were healers, who were persecuted. As Dora delves more into her family history, she discovers many secrets, some surprising and some unpleasant, and from the pages of her family’s history there arises a mysterious character who seems to have played a major part in persecuting her family members. The identity of this person and the secrets that are revealed and the way Dora’s family story intertwines with her country’s history forms the rest of the book.

The Last Goddess‘ is a very different book compared to ‘Gerta‘ because it delves into female healers, witchcraft, witch trials. But it has one common thing with ‘Gerta’. It brings to light a little known facet of Czech history. I was surprised that much of the book was based on facts, and the author has done her research well. That makes the book even more fascinating. The women characters in the book are all fascinating, even one of the characters who practises dark magic. The ending of the story was surprising and heartbreaking – I didn’t see that coming.

I enjoyed reading ‘The Last Goddess‘. Kateřina Tučková has written one more novel in Czech. I hope it gets translated into English soon. I can’t wait to read it.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite passages from the book.

“…the people of Kopanice held on to the notion that they were exceptional because they lived in an exceptional setting. Dora would have liked to begin here in the writing of her dissertation. But of course, it was nonsense to open an academic work with an essay on a mountainous landscape whose slopes were covered with forests of Carpathian beech and oak, their trunks too broad to put one’s arms around, where the hillsides were dotted with narrow tilled fields and squat little cottages and meadows that, in summer, were aglitter with rare orchids and anemones. An academic work cannot begin with a description of a fresh summer day in the mountains that gives way in a moment to winds and storms that swathe the ridges in dark, impenetrable clouds, nor with one of a hard winter when the hills are whipped with snowy gusts more reminiscent of Siberia than southern Moravia. The pages of such a work cannot describe the huge round moon and the shreds of night sky between the tips of the serried hills, nor can it observe that on a cloudless night, the hillside paths are seen almost as clearly as in daytime; that when at such a moment you stand on the crest of a hill at the threshold of your cottage, you might believe yourself in heaven, the whole world open beneath your feet; and that the lights of cottages scattered across the hillside opposite wink at you, as do those of Hrozenkov from a hollow between hills, like a babe in its cradle. Everyone knows of everyone else, regardless of the distance between them. They are alone, yet together. That would have been a proper beginning for her dissertation, showing how magical Kopanice in the White Carpathians was and that only in such a place could something as special as the goddesses originate and develop. In an academic work bound by strict rules in which aesthetics counted for naught, there was no place for it, however.”

Have you read ‘The Last Goddess‘? What do you think about it?

I discovered ‘Gerta‘ by Kateřina Tučková recently and I just finished reading it.

It is the eve of the Second World War. Germany invades Czechoslovakia. Germans take over the Czechoslovakian government and welcome the invaders. Gerta lives with her family in the city of Brno. Gerta’s situation is complicated. Her dad is German and her mom is Czech. She speaks both languages fluently and is at home with both cultures. Her dad tries to push German language and culture at home, but Gerta leans more towards her mom and towards her Czech side. Things go bad for the Czech people during the Nazi occupation, before they get better, when the Russian army walks into Czechoslovakia and liberates it from Germany. But better is just an illusion. For Gerta and her family, they are regarded as German by the native Czechs. As soon as the war gets over, Gerta and others like her – German women who live in Brno, or women with both German and Czech parents – are expelled from the city and are taken on a death march. What happens to Gerta and others like her forms the rest of the story.

The book throws light on a little known episode in Czech history of the 20th century and focuses on innocent people who suffered for years because of the vagaries of history. The story is mostly sad and haunting and heartbreaking. But there are also many beautiful moments in it. The kindness of strangers because of which the world survives and thrives, is present throughout the story. We see most of the story unfold through Gerta’s eyes, but in the second part of the book, Gerta’s daughter occasionally makes an appearance and tells the story from her perspective. Kateřina Tučková’s prose is spare and moves the story gently like a river. When I reached the end of the book, I cried.

I loved ‘Gerta‘, though it was mostly heartbreaking to read. I hope to read more Kateřina Tučková books. I’ve heard that ‘Gerta’ has been adapted into a play in Czech, and it has received many accolades and has been admired by fans. I hope I can watch it one day.

Have you read ‘Gerta’? What do you think about it?

I discovered Irvin D. Yalom’sWhen Nietzsche Wept‘ through a friend’s recommendation.

The famous Viennese doctor Josef Breuer is holidaying in Venice with his wife when a woman requests a meeting with him on an important matter. After some initial reluctance he agrees to meet her. She tells him that one of her closest friends is a philosopher called Friedrich Nietzsche and he is suffering from a serious illness and she’d like Dr.Breuer to help him. Breuer agrees. This woman through the help of friends convinces Nietzsche to meet Dr.Breuer. Nietzsche is reluctant to accept a long duration treatment. Breuer makes a pact with him. Breuer will help Nietzsche with the physical aspects of his illness, like migraine, and in return Nietzsche will help Breuer in finding meaning in his life and find answers to the big questions. Of course, if you make a deal like this with Nietzsche, things won’t go according to plan. Nietzsche proves that not for nothing is he known as a great philosopher. At one point Breuer says – “There is no longer any point in deceiving myself. There are two patients in our sessions and, of the two, I am the more urgent case.” What happens after that forms the rest of the story.

When Nietzsche Wept‘ is a historical novel. Most of the characters and their relationships described in it are real. It is clear that Irvin Yalom has done his research well. The main relationship between Breuer and Nietzsche is fictional though. Sigmund Freud makes some brief appearances in the story and he is young and cool, very different from the Sigmund Freud that we imagine.

The novel tries to describe the beginnings of psychotherapy and it also serves as a primer of Nietzschean philosophy. The psychotherapy part was okay, but the Nietzschean philosophy part was fascinating. Nietzsche says many amazing things which makes us think. I was surprised to discover that the legendary line – “Whatever does not kill me, makes me stronger” – was originally said by Nietzsche. It made me smile, because this line has been used by generations of bosses to inspire (and torture) their teammates when the going got tough at work. My boss said this to me during my first week at work, and I hated that line and my boss for a long time 😆

I’ve always wanted to read one of Nietzsche’s books, especially ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra‘, and now after reading Yalom’s book, I want to read that soon.

I enjoyed reading ‘When Nietzsche Wept‘. It provides an interesting (but imaginary) account of how the field of psychotherapy came into being. It is also a fascinating primer into Nietzsche’s philosophy.

Have you read ‘When Nietzsche Wept‘? What do you think about it?

I discovered ‘All About Sarah’ by Pauline Delabroy-Allard recently and was finally able to read it today.

The narrator of the story is a single mom who has a young daughter. She and her husband divorced sometime back. One day she goes to a party and bumps into a woman called Sarah. Sarah is loud, talkative, unconventional, doesn’t care what people think. Our narrator is drawn towards Sarah and is deeply attracted towards her. And Sarah responds to that. And as they say, it is the end of life as they know it. I won’t tell you anything else about the story here. I’ll let you read the book and discover its pleasures.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part describes the love story between the narrator and Sarah. It has short chapters and it is mostly a happy story. The second part is a bit sad, is a bit dark. It has chapters which are a little longer. I liked both the parts, but I loved the first part more. The attraction, the seduction, the love, the fights, the making up were so beautifully described there. Though I loved the first part more, one of my favourite scenes came in the second part in which a minor character appeared and said some beautiful things. My favourite passage from that scene goes like this –

“Isabella insists on taking me to see the castle. When we stop briefly at a café, we talk about love and the agonies you have to experience in order to appreciate the joys. She doesn’t ask any questions when I start to cry silently. She just says – gently, in her irresistible accent – you have to get through the nights and be fulfilled during the day.”

Pauline Delabroy-Allard’s prose is a pleasure to read and there are many beautiful passages in the book. I’ve shared some of my favourites below. As Sarah is a violinist who performs in classical music concerts, the whole book has a musical backdrop and Beethoven and Schubert and Vivaldi and others make guest appearances in the book which adds to the charm of the book.

I loved ‘All About Sarah‘. It is one of my favourite lesbian love stories. Pauline Delabroy-Allard is a beautiful, new find for me and I’m looking forward to reading more books by her.

I’m sharing below a couple of my favourite passages. The second one has three parts from three different places in the book, which I’ve stitched together, because I felt that they read beautifully together.

“Passion. From the Latin patior, to experience, endure, suffer. Feminine noun. With the notion of protracted or successive suffering: the action of suffering. With the notion of excess, exaggeration, intensity: love as an irresistible and violent inclination towards a single object, sometimes descending into obsession, entailing a loss of moral compass and of critical faculties, and liable to compromise mental stability. In Scholasticism, what is experienced by an individual, the thing with which he or she is associated or to which he or she is subjugated.”

“It’s January but yet again the miracle happens. Yet again winter admits defeat, drags its heels a little longer and tries one final flourish, but it’s too late, it’s over, the spring has won…It’s a spring like any other, a spring to depress the best of us…It’s a spring like any other, with impromptu showers, the smell of wet tarmac, a sort of lightness in the air, a breath of happiness that sings softly about the fragility of it all.”

Have you read ‘All About Sarah‘? What do you think about it?

I’m a huge fan of Franco-Belgian comics which are called Bande Dessinées. I’ve wanted to read this Bande Dessinée called ‘The Old Geezers‘ (‘Les Vieux Fourneaux‘) for a while. I read the first part of this series today.

Three old friends meet. The occasion is sad because the wife of one of them has just passed.  They catch up and reminisce about old times and the grown-up pregnant granddaughter of the grieving husband also joins in the conversation. The departed wife has left behind a letter which contains a secret. The husband is livid with anger after he reads it and takes a gun and rushes away somewhere. The other two friends and the granddaughter follow to prevent him from doing something bad. What follows is an amazing story of friendship, a commentary on today’s world, some cool banter, many hilarious scenes. I laughed through most of the book. The three old geezers have a devil-may-care attitude and are hilarious and adorable. The granddaughter is a kick-ass person, and one scene in which she offers her thoughts on the current situation in the world is amazing and inspiring to read. It was one of my favourite scenes in the book.

I loved this first part of ‘The Old Geezers’ (‘Les Vieux Fourneaux’). It is definitely one of my favourite comics discoveries this year. Can’t wait to read the next part. Am sharing the first few pages  so that you can get a feel for the story and the artwork.

Have you read ‘The Old Geezers’ (‘Les Vieux Fourneaux’)? What do you think about it?

When I discovered that Jelena Lengold’s new book ‘Lightfooted Day‘ was coming out, I was very excited. I loved the two earlier books by her that I had read – the short story collection ‘Fairground Magician‘ and the novel ‘Baltimore‘ – and so I was looking forward to reading her new book.

Isidore is a writer who has just published his new novel. He is busy with the launch of the novel and looking at the reviews, when he receives an email from a stranger. This stranger talks about deep, complex things and Isidore finds the mail interesting but he doesn’t respond. But this stranger is persistent and he sends another mail and at some point Isidore replies and a conversation starts. Then Isidore and this stranger decide to meet, and this stranger tells Isidore about someone from Isidore’s past, and Isidore is surprised and stunned. He mind goes back to a time when he was eighteen and he was in the middle of a tragic event for the first time in his life. The rest of the story moves between the past and the present as we get introduced to the people in Isidore’s life, especially this particular person, and how the past impacts the present and the future and the surprises that are revealed form the rest of the story.

I loved many of the characters in the story. There are many strong women characters in the story who come into Isidore’s life, all in different ways, and they all play important parts in the story. There is Maja who first comes in the beginning, and then there is Olga who plays a big part in Isidore’s life, and then there is Irma who plays a big role in the story, and then there is Benedetta who makes a brief appearance but who leaves a big impact and then there is Trine who is a wonderful character. It is hard to pick one favourite character because they are all amazing and kick-ass. Then there is Isidore’s dad who is a quiet person and doesn’t talk much, but there is more to him than meets the eye. One of my favourite characters is a man called Kjetil who appears for a brief while, but who is mysterious and fascinating, and he has some interesting things to say about Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

The book is a story of a quest in which the main character travels across time and geography to find meaning and prise out some of life’s secrets. It is beautiful and contemplative. Jelena Lengold’s prose flows smoothly like a river and there are beautiful passages in every chapter, which her fans have come to expect now. Isidore’s sense of humour is cool and stylish and he makes us smile many times.  I’ve shared some of my favourite passages in the comments. The whole book has a musical backdrop and music plays an important role in the story. I loved that aspect of the book. There is a section in the end which has a description of all the music referenced in the story.

A word on the translation. I got the Serbian edition of the book and used Google Translate to translate it and then polished some of the sentences. I’ve read many essays and articles and book reviews like this, with the help of Google Translate, but this is the first time I’m reading a whole book like this. It was an interesting experience. As English doesn’t have gender for inanimate objects, sometimes objects got translated from the Serbian to English as ‘he’ or ‘she’. There were a few other issues. But outside of that, the translation was pretty good. I could follow the story, I could enjoy the humour, and I could catch the beautiful passages. The translation was not perfect, but it was readable. For a software based translation which doesn’t involve humans, it was pretty impressive. This opens up a whole new world for me, because many European books are not available in English translation or they take many years to come in English translation. I’ve been frustrated many times in the past because of this. Now I don’t have to be. I need to just get the original edition, translate it myself using software, fine-tune the sentences and I have the book ready to read. I am very excited at this possibility.

I loved ‘Lightfooted Day‘. Can’t wait for Jelena Lengold’s next book.

I’m sharing some of my favourite passages from the book below. Hope you like them.

“It’s been a few days since I’ve been trying to start a new novel. Still above me, like some heavy clouds, stood all those days, three years to be exact, in which I wrote Lakonogi dan. I would sometimes think of scenes from movies in which the protagonist writes a book. We usually see him at the computer or typewriter, in uncomfortable, impossible poses, sitting on the bed with a laptop on his lap or lying on the floor and writing something in his notebook. Only music is heard, and then the frame occasionally goes to the window, we watch the seasons change through bright music, leaves fall, the writer writes, it snows, the writer writes again, this time in a warm sweater with sleeves which are too long, people have Christmas trees, we understand that it’s the New Year, the writer is still writing, a steaming cup of tea is next to him, it’s already spring, we see the sun in the park across from his building, because in movies the writer’s apartment mostly overlooks some magical park or lake, and not even thirty seconds into the film, he triumphantly types in capital letters THE END in the middle of the last page.

In reality, it’s all much different. Time drags on and often nothing happens for hours, except that the windows are occasionally shaken by the vibrations of a tram or some heavy plane that flies over the city. Immersed in that quiet wrestling with the outside world, I sometimes see the lights in the windows go out. The seasons really change, but autumn will last as long as autumn must last, before it turns into winter. Anxious magpies crouch on the bare branches of the trees. In the morning I would be awakened by the cries of children in the streets, the barking of dogs, the ticking of clocks, distant church towers and the poisoned fumes of the city. I would sit at my desk for a while, then I would go to wash the dishes, fry eggs, make coffee. The total senselessness of this empty apartment would sometimes fall on me like a torrent of all the replicas and noises that once filled it. Those were hard days. Boring and tiring.”

“What was good is forgotten devastatingly quickly, as if it didn’t even exist. Those who break things up should keep that in mind, that terrible truth, that creation takes much longer than breaking up. And therefore we must be guided by this truth before we decide to break up anything in the world.”

“And I was convinced that I was telling the truth. The truth, obviously, is not what we naively consider, something unchangeable, provable and factually indisputable. The truth, by all accounts, has its moment, as does everything else. And it lasts for a while, and then it disappears.”

“One of the human traits that I couldn’t understand and that became more and more repulsive to me over the years, was this : people want to tell you something at any cost. And if they do, it’s hard to stop them. Why exactly, and why exactly to you, remains an enigma. But they are persistent in that, and until you listen to what they have to say, there is usually no salvation for you. Either let them tell everything, or you will be classified as an uneducated weirdo who turns around and leaves in the middle of someone’s sentence. Truth be told, I’ve done that in my life, but I didn’t feel good after that. There is a small person living in me who does not allow me to behave the way I would like. And that is why I have listened to so many stories that did not interest me, that sometimes I have the impression that one precious part of my life has gone to it irretrievably, a part that I could spend blissfully doing anything else. At a certain age, all of us, willingly or not, become a dump of other people’s stories. They lead some of their lives in us, and as it happens in every other landfill, they emit heavy, unpleasant odors, rot, and occasionally, on their own, catch fire. Because of them, because of all these stories, we can never live a clean, naive, carefree life again. Even if our life is a paradise garden  without any worries.”

“Those people who write all their emails exclusively in lower case! Oh, how they always annoyed me! There is some badly disguised pretentiousness in their manner, some false modesty, some arrogance that actually says that they are better than others, that they never and nowhere mix with intruders and self-advertisers. They have overcome all that, haven’t they, and small letters are enough for them to say what they want, because their words are important in themselves, and they don’t need capital letters anymore. These fake epistolary ecologists, convinced that in this way they are acting less aggressively than the rest of humanity, the one that overwhelms you every day with its bold thoughts.”

Have you read ‘Lightfooted Day‘? What do think about it?

I discovered Jason Reynolds sometime back and I decided to read this book of his, ‘Long Way Down‘.

Will is talking to his friend Tony when they get caught in the middle of a gangfight. When the smoke clears, Will discovers that his big brother Shawn has been shot dead. In Will’s world, there are three rules. Or The Rules. They are 1. Don’t cry 2. Don’t snitch 3. Take revenge. So Will decides to follow the Rules. He feels he knows who killed his brother. So the next day morning, he takes his brother’s gun with him and decides to kill his brother’s murderer. He gets into the lift which goes down. On the next floor someone gets in. This new guy stands behind Will and keeps staring at him. Will gets uncomfortable and asks this guy whether they know each other. And this new guy smiles. And Will suddenly recognizes this guy. And his whole world turns upside down and amazing, unexpected things happen after that.

Long Way Down‘ is a novel written in verse. I thought it will be challenging to read because of the format, but the poetry flows smoothly and the pages move fast. The story is gripping and we can’t wait to find out what happens next. Jason Reynolds has written it in free verse which seems to be the format favoured by poets today, but occasionally he experiments on the way the poem appears on the page, in the style of e.e.cummings, and it is fascinating and beautiful. I’ve shared one of my favourite pages below, which has this style. Hope you like it.

The ending of the story is surprising, and not at all what I expected. One take on it could be that it is open-ended, but the other take which seems to suggest something totally unexpected and makes us go back to the book for clues, that looks more fascinating. I can’t tell you more. If you read the book, I’d love to discuss the ending with you.

I loved ‘Long Way Down‘. So happy I got to read my first Jason Reynolds book. Hoping to read more.

Have you read ‘Long Way Down’? Which is your favourite Jason Reynolds book?

I wanted to read some comics and so picked this SODA series. There are 13 books in this series. The first came out in 1986 and the most recent one came out in 2015. It is a Belgian comics series and it was originally published in French.

Solomon David (SODA of the title) is a detective with the NYPD (New York Police Department). He lives with his old mother who has a weak heart. So David makes his mother believe that he is actually a priest 😊 So everyday morning, he leaves home in priest’s attire and comes back home in the same way. In between he is a police officer who catches criminals and sometimes has to shoot them down. His mom doesn’t know anything about this though 😊

I read three volumes of SODA’s adventures. They were Tuez en paix (Kill in Peace / You are at Peace) (Volume 8), Et Deliveré-Nous Du Mal (And Deliver Us From Evil) (Volume 9), and Lève-toi et meurs (Stand Up and Die) (Volume 7). I enjoyed reading them all. The artwork was charming in comic style, and the relationship between SODA and his mother makes us smile. The bad guys all make us laugh. Though the stories are all serious, there is an underlying humour throughout, which makes us smile. Every story starts with a spectacular scene, and typically there is a surprise in the end. My favourite opening scene was from Tuez en paix – it is cool and stylish and spectacular. My favourite story was Et Deliveré-Nous Du Mal. In this story SODA goes with his mom to his hometown in Arizona for a short visit and the consequences of that are hilarious. The ending of the story was complex and not black-and-white and that made me like the story even more.

I loved these three volumes of SODA’s adventures. Hoping to read more.

Sharing the first three pages of Tuez en paix, which has that spectacular opening scene. It is in English. Hope you like it.

Have you read the SODA series? Do you like it?