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Archive for June, 2018

I went to the bookshop last week to get a present for my friend for her birthday. While I was browsing the bookshelves and wondering which book to get, this book leapt at me. My friend is a big football fan and so I thought this would be perfect. When I went to the counter to pay for the book and get it wrapped with gift paper, my heart was inside the book and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Ignoring all the warnings from my brain, which screamed ‘Don’t do this!’, I went and got another copy of the book for myself 😁 As this is World Cup Football season, yesterday, I thought I will read it.

The title of Simon Critchley’s book seems to be clearly inspired either by Raymond Carver’s short story, ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love‘. Or probably by Haruki Murakami’s book ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running‘. In this book, Simon Critchley explores the game of football from different perspectives – football’s roots in socialism and how it has transformed into a capitalistic game, why it is regarded as a beautiful game and what is the source of its beauty, the team nature of football and how within the team structure it nurtures individual talent, what does it mean to be a football, how players and fans get together and lose themselves in a match and how this creates the music and the magic, what it means to be a passionate football fan especially when one’s favourite team is losing, what does it mean to be a player and a manager, the role of football history, what tribalism and nationalism mean from a football perspective – Critchley explores these and other themes. As he is a philosopher, he sometimes uses philosophical concepts to explore football’s aesthetic beauty and the deeper meaning it might offer to players and fans. During this fascinating journey he also touches upon some of the great players and some of his favourite matches (I will give extra points to Critchley for mentioning one of my favourite players, Philippe Coutinho, whom he calls ‘The Little Master‘) to illuminate some of these themes in more depth.

I loved Simon Critchley’s book. I have never read a book like this on football before. The typical football book is a ghosted biography of a famous player or a manager. During World Cup years, we see books which talk about the history of the World Cup. Sometimes there are books with lots of beautiful, colour photographs. It is very rare to find a book which looks at the overall game and explores its beauty and its meaning. Atleast I haven’t seen one. There are books like this on cricket. The one that comes to mind immediately is ‘Beyond a Boundary‘ by C.L.R.James. The closest football book to that till now is probably Nick Hornby’sFever Pitch‘. One of the reasons for this might be that football is a truly international game which is played not just in English speaking countries. There might be books on football written in Spanish or French or German or Italian or Portuguese, but these are not translated into English and so they are not accessible to an English-reading audience. In English, the bookshelf is really thin. So, Critchley’s book breaks new ground and takes us through unexplored territory. I am happy to say that it succeeds spectacularly.

What We Think About When We Think About Football‘ is probably football’s answer to C.L.R.James‘ masterly work ‘Beyond a Boundary‘ and Haruki Murakami’s charming ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running‘. It is beautiful, engaging, brilliant, sometimes challenging, many times delightful, and filled with love for the game. It has many photographs interleaved between the pages of text, which add to its charm. Simon Critchley’s prose is accessible and engaging, sometimes beautiful, sometimes intellectually challenging when he puts his philosopher hat on, but always insightful and always readable. I hope this book becomes a classic. If you are a football fan, go and read it now, because this is the perfect time to read this beautiful book.

I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“Football is a tactical game, obviously. It requires discipline and relentless training to maintain the fitness of the players, but – more importantly – to attain and retain the shape of the team. A team is a grid, a dynamic figuration, a matrix of moving nodes, endlessly shifting, but all the while trying to keep its shape, to retain its form. A team is a mobile shifting form pitted against another form, that of the opposing team. The purpose of the shape of the team – regardless of possession, regardless of whether you play offensively or defensively – is to occupy and control space.”

“Nationhood cannot be simply denied or avoided, for that would be to disavow the fact of where we are from and how that shapes who we are and how we think and speak. Although I am opposed to the simple-minded modern identification of nation with state, I do not think that we can simply choose to ignore or play down the nature of nationhood and its vital importance in providing a sense of place, identity and history. We also need to acknowledge the complexity and exoticism of national sentiment, especially when it is felt for another nation than our own. For example – and I am far from alone in this – my first experience of a passionate attraction to another nation was in 1970, watching Brazil in the World Cup… Football allows me to dream of places that I have never visited and probably never will visit : Cameroon, Kazakhstan, Cambodia…Belgium.”

“Football is not just about winning. It is usually about losing. It has to be. But the really strange thing about football is not defeat as such. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not defeat that kills you. It’s the ever-renewed hope. The hope that every new season offers. The hope that comes in to tickle your feet, and then you realize, as the poet and classicist Anne Carson says, that your soles are on fire. Football can often be an experience of righteous injustice, where defeat is experienced as bad refereeing decisions or a bad pitch or just bad weather. But sometimes your team can simply be outplayed by a superior group of players. That’s a different kind of pain, when you realize that your team just isn’t good enough. But still ticklish hope flickers and burns.”

Have you read ‘What We Think About When We Think About Football‘? What do you think about it?

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A few days back when I was wondering which book to read next, Jeanette Winterson’sThe Stone Gods‘ leapt at me. I went on a book search to find out where it was and discovered it deep inside the bookshelf. I finished reading it today.

The Stone Gods‘ is science fiction. The first part of the story, which spans nearly half the book, is set in a futuristic world. Science and technology is highly developed, people eat and drink synthetically made food, people can genetically freeze their age and always look young, space travel is highly evolved, humans have robots to do many tasks. But some of the old human flaws and vanities remain – the difference between the haves and have-nots, how celebrities still try to differentiate themselves when everyone looks young. But the most important thing is this. Humans have polluted the planet, there have been wars, things are bad, and in the not-so-distant future, the planet might turn out to be uninhabitable. Then the scientists discover a new planet. It has everything that is required for human life. There are some big, dangerous animals there though, like dinosaurs. So a spaceship goes there on a mission. The plan is to humanely kill the dinosaurs and help establish a human colony there. Once things are setup and stabilized there, the plan is for people to start moving there. Of course, things don’t go according to plan. What happens after that is told in the rest of part one. In part two, the story takes us to the 1770s, when Captain Cook visits Easter Island and describes what happens then. In the the third and fourth parts of the book, the events happen closer to our time. How these three story strands are woven together into one fabric is revealed finally.

I felt that the first part of ‘The Stone Gods‘, which covered nearly half of the book, was the strongest. But all the different story strands were interesting in their own way. The surprise that is revealed in the end is interesting, but I think I saw it coming. The book says some interesting things about our world and where it is going – offering a commentary on the human condition – and it is hard to disagree with it. Jeanette Winterson’s prose is charming, irreverent and humorous and is a pleasure to read. I loved most of the characters in the book, but my favourite was a robot who is almost human, called Spike. She is cool, stylish and charming.

An interesting thing happened, when I started reading the book. The narrator of the first part of the story is called Billie Crusoe. I made an automatic assumption that Billie was a man and he was straight because later he falls in love with a woman. Imagine my surprise when I discover that Billie Crusoe is a woman and she is (probably) a lesbian. There is a word called ‘hereronormative‘. I think I first saw it in a book called ‘The Argonauts‘ by Maggie Nelson. In my understanding, it means that when we get introduced to a new character in a story, we automatically assume that the person is straight. I also went one step ahead and assumed that the narrator is a man. In my defence, I have never seen a female Billie in fiction. But when I think about it, I realize that there is Billie Piper, the English actress, who is famous for her wonderful roles in ‘Doctor Who‘ and ‘Penny Dreadful‘. We keep an open mind, guard ourselves against making assumptions, but traditional conditioning just creeps in silently and unexpectedly. That is what I realized when I thought about all this.

I liked ‘The Stone Gods‘. This is my first Jeanette Winterson book and I am happy to discover that she has a long backlist. I can’t wait to read more of her books.

I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“The thing about life that drives me mad,” I said, “is that it doesn’t make sense. We make plans. We try to control, but the whole thing is random.”
“This is a quantum universe,” said Spike, “neither random nor determined. It is potential at every second. All you can do is intervene.”

“There’s a planet,” said Spike, “made of water, entirely of water, where every solid thing is its watery equivalent. There are no seas because there is no land. There are no rivers because there are no banks. There is no thirst because there is no dry.
“This planet is like a bowl of water except that there is no bowl. It hangs in space as a drop of water hangs from a leaf, except that there is no leaf. It cannot exist, and yet it does. I tell you this so you know that what is impossible sometimes happens.”

“Words are the part of silence that can be spoken.”

“The trouble with babies is that they are made like a safe – no way to see what’s inside and no guarantee that the effort will be worth the trouble. Spin the numbers, crack the code, but the door won’t swing open. Babies are safes on a time-delay. It takes years for the door to swing open, and even when it does, the best minds are undecided as to the value of the contents.
And to make life more difficult, babies who come as treasure bring with them their own magician. Open the box and it may be empty. What’s inside may already have been spirited away. By the time you get to it, there may be nothing there. Rot? Evaporation? A vanishing trick? Are all those empty adults born so? Or did something happen in the box?”

“I have never understood the physics of legs. My legs are longer, so why can’t I keep up with a dog? Even dogs with very short legs run faster than humans with long legs. How does this work?”

“I thought of something I’d read about the impossible beauty of the landscape before the industrial revolution. Particularly the beauty of woodland, because an oak takes three hundred years to grow, three hundred years to live, and three hundred years to die.”

“You can change everything about yourself – your name, your home, your skin colour, your gender, even your parents, your private history – but you can’t change the time you were born in, or what it is you will have to live through.
This is our time.”

Have you read ‘The Stone Gods‘? What do you think about it?

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Julius Winsome‘ by Gerard Donovan was highly recommended to me by a couple of friends from my book club. I hadn’t heard of Gerard Donovan before and was excited to explore a new writer.

The story told in ‘Julius Winsome‘ is narrated by the title character. He lives in a cabin, in the middle of the woods in Maine. The nearest neighbours are a few miles away. The nearest town is also a few miles away. Julius lives with his dog Hobbes. Julius hasn’t gone to college, but is very well read, because his father inspired a love for literature in him. His father also left him with 3282 books. All the walls in Julius’ home are lined with bookshelves filled with books. 3282 books. One evening, at the end of October, Julius is sitting in front of the wood stove, in which the logs are crackling producing a beautiful sound and generating a pleasant warmth. He is reading a collection of short stories by Chekhov, while sipping a hot cup of tea. (I read those lines in the book atleast ten times. Such a perfect first scene. Sitting in front of the fire, in the fall, reading a book, sipping a cup of tea, with a dog at his feet – what can be better? Wait, where is the dog?) Julius suddenly discovers that his dog Hobbes is missing. He calls for Hobbes, but doesn’t hear any answer. He tries after a while, but still no answer. Sometime before he had heard a gunshot, but this is the time of the year, when there are hunters in the forest and so one hears gunshots. And so Julius had ignored it. But now he is worried. After a while, he becomes restless and goes out in the cold and searches for his dog. He finds Hobbes, some distance away, on the ground, shot by a gun, but still alive. Julius takes his truck, and rushes to the veterinarian. The doctor tries his best but it is too late. Hobbes has lost a lot of blood. He looks at Julius for the last time and then stops breathing. Julius brings him back home and buries him nearby. Julius feels very sad. As he describes it himself :

“By the time I was back in the cabin and stirring the fire, I missed him for the first time, missed him with a hammerstrike against the heart, the awful moment when you know what gone really means. It means no one sees how you live, what you do.
And along with the sadness, something else crept in the door, a trace of something else, I mean. It must have come from the woodpile or ran in from the woods, because I’d not felt anything like it before.”

That thing which creeps into his house along with the sadness, it darkens his heart, makes him thirst for revenge. What happens after that, what Julius does about it, is he able to find who killed Hobbes, is he able to take his revenge – these form the rest of the story.

Julius Winsome‘ is a beautiful study of loneliness, of solitude. It belongs in the category of the great introvert novels – like Patrick Süskind’sThe Pigeon‘ and ‘Perfume‘ and J.K.Huysmans‘ ‘Downstream‘ and ‘Against Nature‘, Robert Seethaler’sA Whole Life‘, Denis Thériault’sThe Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman‘ and Alexis M. Smith’sGlaciers‘. It describes what happens when an introvert sits in his cabin, sipping tea, reading his favourite book, and minding his own business, and the outside world suddenly enters his life, explodes into his life, changing it upside down. What happens is surprising and even amazing, and sometimes we may not even approve of what is happening, but if one is an introvert (not the introvert who claims to be one, but spends most evenings and weekends with friends and other people and has a busy social life, but the one who is the real deal, the introvert who spends a Saturday evening reading a book rather than catching up with friends, who watches movies alone because she / he hates other people when they talk during a movie, who hates talking on the phone but prefers texting, that kind of introvert), one can understand why things are happening the way they do. Gerard Donovan clearly loves Shakespeare and he passes on that love to the narrator whose account is filled with Shakespearean words and we find interesting scenes in which two people are pointing a gun at each other and the narrator quotes Shakespeare and the person on the opposite side says ‘What???‘ 🙂 I loved those scenes. It made me remember a Tamil movie called ‘Anniyan‘ in which the main character quotes Sanskrit shlokas to the bad guys and their faces widen with a bewildered look. After the initial cozy start and the subsequent tragedy, the story acquires the pace of a thriller and we want to turn the page to find out what happens next. It was interesting to see the story transforming in shape and become something new and different but which has deep roots in its past. Gerard Donovan’s prose is spare and beautiful and the narrative is interspersed with beautiful sentences and passages. The story has an interesting ending, something that I didn’t expect.

I loved ‘Julius Winsome‘. It is a beautiful story of solitude, love, friendship, loss, revenge, war, violence, redemption. It is also a beautiful story about the friendship between humans and dogs and a beautiful story about the love for literature and Shakespeare. I can’t wait to read more books by Gerard Donovan.

I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“My father was so sparing in his words you had to add water to them before they swelled into a sentence you could understand.”

“If a man whispers something to you in German, and you don’t speak the language, you won’t understand a word of it : he could be talking philosophy or cursing your parents. If he shouts the same thing or different German words at you, you still won’t understand a thing. When a dog lifts his head and howls while keeping his eyes on you, slightly from the side, it means he’s playful but knows that you’re putting one over him. If he puts his head back and barks at you full on, down from the stomach, he wants to play. If he growls from the stomach when you grab him and looks sideways at you, it’s pure affection, but if he growls straight ahead and shallow from the teeth, it’s a one-second warning. If you don’t understand his language, it’s all noise. Those men abroad in the woods did not, I think, understand my Shakespeare, though every word of it was English and I spoke carefully. I may as well have been barking at them. Time makes dogs of us.”

Have you read ‘Julius Winsome‘? What do you think about it?

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I have wanted to read Margaret Atwood’sThe Handmaid’s Tale‘ for sometime now. I was in two minds on whether to watch the TV adaptation first or read the book first. Because I like surprises being revealed on TV, while I don’t mind reading a book even after I know the story. But, in general, I am a books-first person, and so this turned out to be an unresolved problem which dogged me everyday. Then finally one day, I buckled and watched the TV adaptation first. I loved it very much. Then I read the book. This post is about the book. I have shared some thoughts on the TV adaptation too at the end.

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The Handmaid’s Tale‘ is set in a dystopian world, maybe sometime in the last decade of the twentieth century or early in the twenty-first century. In this world, in the recent past, some bad things have happened,  there is environmental pollution, there are wars, most people find it impossible to have children as something in the environment has affected their bodies. Many people are unemployed and have started hating the government. A group of influential people in America get together, fight against the government, overthrow it, call themselves the Republic of Gilead, and promise to fix all the problems. One of the first things the new government does is to ban women from any kind of employment. So, that is one problem solved – unemployment has been eliminated. Like the Nazis did. Then they round up women, who they don’t approve of – because they married a second time, because they tried running away from the country when the new regime came in, because they were in professions that the government has banned – pick the ones who can still have children, call them handmaids, puts them through a tough and cruel programme to break them and remove any kind of rebellious or independent thought from them, and they assign them to powerful leaders’ homes to play the role of surrogate mothers and have kids for them. This story is told by one of those handmaids called Offred.

For the rest of the story, you should read the book.

One of the scary things about the book is that most of the stuff described in it has happened in one way or another in some country in the past century or so. Women being forced to stay at home, women forced to wear a particular kind of dress, soldiers everywhere in the city, people’s movements being restricted around town, schools and colleges being closed, spies everywhere who can report anything to the authorities including spies among neighbours and in one’s family and household, women’s reproductive functions being controlled by the government which is mostly made up of men – all these and more have happened. Some of these are still continuing to happen. As Margaret Atwood says in her introduction to the new edition of this book, she didn’t write anything new. She took the things that were already there, put them all in one place and tried to imagine what happened. And what happens in the story is scary. It is hard to read.

I loved the way the characters in the book are depicted – well fleshed out, imperfect, flawed. Offred is a wonderful narrator and the other main characters – Moira, Cora, Rita, Offglen, Serena, the Commander, Aunt Lydia – they are all well depicted. I loved Moira and Cora.

Atwood’s prose is spare and she uses minimal punctuation, even in dialogues – it made me think of James Joyce, Nicole Brossard, Cormac McCarthy. Most of the book is dark and bleak, but when Atwood is in the mood, the contemplative passages flow smoothly like a serene river. After sometime, I looked forward to those beautiful passages and waited for them with anticipation.

Now about the TV adaptation. The TV adaptation takes a lot of liberties with the book, many of them small, some of them big. For example, in one case, it merges two characters, creating a composite character. Some of the characters in the adaptation are younger than in the novel. Some of them have stronger stories and get more screentime than in the novel. In the case of a couple of characters, their story arc extends well beyond the book. Many of the characters are more likeable in the TV adaptation. The TV adaptation also introduces some new characters who are not there in the book. One of them was one of my favourites. The TV adaptation also has some events rearranged when compared to the book. Sometimes there are new events which are not there in the book. Interestingly, many of these additions and modifications enhance the dramatic intensity of the story. In some ways, the TV adaptation improves upon the book. Which happens very rarely. It must have helped because Atwood has been closely involved in the TV adaptation. She also appears in a scene at the beginning as an Aunt, and gives a big slap to Offred. The TV adaptation has a wonderful cast too and is brilliant. Samira Wiley as Moira was so perfect.

Margaret Atwood as the Aunt slapping Offred

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And lastly, about some of the famous lines in the book and the TV adaptation. Everytime I hear ‘Blessed be the fruit‘, ‘May the Lord open‘, ‘Praised be‘, and ‘Under his eye‘, I feel a shiver down my spine. And everytime I remember ‘Nolite te bastardes carborundum‘ (‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down‘), I get goosebumps. Words are powerful, especially in context.

I loved ‘The Handmaid’s Tale‘. It took me a while to read it, but I am glad I finally read it. The edition I read was incredibly beautiful – red cover with a beautiful design, hardback, thick pages with big font, no introduction, no footnotes or any notes, just me and the book, with no distractions, as if it was saying that the proof of the pudding was in the eating it. I loved that. I must be the last person on earth to read it, but if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.

I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“It’s impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out, there are too many parts, sides, crosscurrents, nuances; too many gestures, which could mean this or that, too many shapes which can never be fully described, too many flavours, in the air or on the tongue, half-colours, too many.”

“Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloudcover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. Wool blanket. I wish I could see in the dark, better than I do.”

Have you read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale‘? What do you think about it?

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I started reading this book nearly a month back. It is a chunkster at nearly 900 pages, but still I didn’t think it would take so long. But I refused to give up or get distracted by other shiny new books, and I persisted. Yesterday, when I read the last word, on the last page, I was very happy and thrilled.

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I have always thought that Ray Bradbury was a science fiction writer. I hadn’t read any of his stories or books when I thought that. Then one of my friends who was a huge fan of Bradbury introduced ‘Dandelion Wine‘ to me. I read it and I loved it and it immediately found a place on my list of favourite books. It was the most beautiful evocation of summer that I have ever read. Then I thought that Bradbury wrote science fiction and stories about small-town America. Then someone told me about ‘Fahrenheit 451‘. Then I thought – “Okay. Bradbury writes science fiction + small town America + dystopia“. Then I read this book. And now I realize that whatever I thought about Bradbury was wrong. He was a writer who refused to get slotted into one genre, refused to be pigeon-holed. He wrote about anything and everything which caught his fancy and he defied other’s attempts to classify his stories. This book has 100 stories, all selected by Ray Bradbury himself. There is science fiction, there are stories of small town America. But there are also horror stories, stories about vampires, dinosaur stories, noir crime stories, detective stories, murder mysteries, love stories, family stories, Irish stories, Mexican stories. Even the science fiction is diverse – the regular space travel stuff is there, there are Martian stories, there are time travel stories, there are stories of dinosaurs and strange sea creatures, and other stories which are hard to classify. There are science fiction stories which offer commentary on our modern networked world in which we are connected all the time through social media. Bradbury wrote that story decades back, before the advent of the smartphone and the internet, and the insights the story offers are amazing. This story is called ‘The Murderer‘. The Irish stories show beautiful aspects of Irish culture and how people took pleasure and got happiness from the small things when their country was going through a tough time. My favourite Irish story was ‘The Anthem Sprinters‘. There were many stories which bore a close resemblance to longer novels by other authors and movies, which came later. I am wondering whether these authors and movie makers were inspired by Bradbury’s stories. ‘The Small Assassin‘ looked remarkably similar to the movie ‘The Omen‘, but without the religious connotations.

I liked most of the stories in the book and it is impossible to write about them all. So, I am giving below a brief description of some of my favourites.

The Night – It is the first story in the book and Bradbury hits the ball straight out of the park, in the first story itself. It is about the fear of the night, the fear of the dark, that many of us have, when we are children. It is very scary. It had one of my favourite passages which went like this –

      “You realize you are alone. You and your mother. Her hand trembles.
      Her hand trembles.
      Your belief in your private world is shattered. You feel Mother tremble. Why? Is she, too, doubtful? But she is bigger, stronger, more intelligent than yourself, isn’t she? Does she, too, feel that intangible menace, that groping out of darkness, that crouching malignancy down below? Is there, then, no strength in growing up? no solace in being an adult? no sanctuary in life? no flesh citadel strong enough to withstand the scrabbling assault of midnights? Doubts flush you.”

Homecoming – There is a strange family who look like humans during normal times. We are never told what they are, but we suspect that they are vampires. They are having a great gathering and celebration and all their relatives are visiting. There are all kinds of creatures among their relatives. The youngest member of the family, Timothy, is different from the rest. He sleeps during the night, is awake during the day, eats normal food. How this outsider lives his life in a family filled with people who have strange powers forms the rest of the story.

The Scythe – It is a story in which a man and his family, who are struggling to make ends meet, find a house in the middle of nowhere, with everything they want, and a document which says that the house and surrounding lands belong to them now. But, of course, nothing comes for free in life, and there is a deep horror lurking there in the house and around.

Kaleidoscope – A rocket explodes and the astronauts inside are thrown out in different directions. They have a short period of radio time left, before they lose contact, and in that time they start discussing the meaning of life and they start saying nice things and mean things to each other. What starts as a science fiction story, ends up becoming a story which asks the big questions about life and it is incredibly beautiful.

The Veldt – A couple get a futuristic playroom for their kids. But when the playroom door is closed, it looks like something scary has stepped into the room, like a real life version of ‘Jumanji’.

The Fire Balloons – A group of priests go to Mars to meet Martians and initiate them into the ways of religion. But they are in for a surprise.

The Fog Horn – A beautiful science fiction story which is also a love story. It is one of my alltime favourites and one of Bradbury’s finest. Please do read it. You can find it here – https://archive.org/stream/TheFogHorn/TheFogHorn.txt

Hail and Farewell – A beautiful story of a boy who doesn’t grow up.

The Great Wide World Over There – A story of a middle-aged woman who can’t read and write, who discovers the pleasures of receiving letters. Very beautiful. I cried after I read the story.

The Small Assassin – A story about a newborn baby who is fully aware of his surroundings, doesn’t have any moral sense of right and wrong, hates his parents for bringing him into the world, and tries to hurt them. Very scary. Very similar to ‘The Omen’.

Calling Mexico – A story about an old man in his last days, who tries to bring back his past with a small act. Very beautiful and poignant.

The Day it Rained Forever – A story about three old men who are waiting for the rain and then something happens. You have to read the story to find out what happened.

The Town Where No One Got Off – A travelling salesman gets off the train, one day, at a town where no one gets off. Surprising things happen then. A very interesting, philosophical noir crime story.

The Anthem Sprinters – A beautiful depiction of Irish culture.

The Terrible Conflagration up at the Place – a story about a few young men who want to burn down an Irish lord’s house. What happens is beautiful and charming.

Tomorrow’s Child – A woman gives birth. But the thing she has given birth to, looks like a blue pyramid. The doctor says that it is a live, healthy baby. Why it looks like a blue pyramid and what the parents do about it is told in the rest of the story. A very beautiful story about parents and children, family and love.

I Sing the Body Electric! – in which the narrator talks about his unusual grandma. She is one of my favourite grandma characters ever.

A Story of Love – a beautiful, unusual love story.

The Better Part of Wisdom – another beautiful, unusual love story. What is left unsaid is so beautiful. I don’t think I would have understood this story when I was in my teens.

Interval in Sunlight – it describes the life of a couple and how the husband harasses the wife everyday, with every word he speaks. It made me angry more and more as I read the story. I hated that husband character. But the way Bradbury makes it all look so real – it is scary. Full marks to him.

The Sound of Thunder – A man travels to the past to hunt a Tyrannosaurus Rex. But this can’t go well, can it? You can’t just go and hunt a Tyrannosaurus! What was he thinking??

The Shoreline at Sunset – Two young men discover that something has been washed by the seashore. They go and have a look and discover that she is a mermaid. What happens after that is told in the rest of the story.

There are also a couple of stories set in the planet Venus. Venus is depicted as a planet where it rains most of the time and the sun rises only once in a while, maybe once in a few years. ‘The Long Rain‘ depicts the rainy aspect very beautifully, while ‘All Summer in a Day‘ depicts the sun rising part very well.

There are a few stories set in other unnamed planets too. In ‘The One Who Waits‘, the narrator is a native of the planet that humans visit. How the narrator looks like and what is the nature of the narrator – we don’t know. What happens when the worlds of these two beings collide is depicted in the story. It is very scary. In ‘Frost and Fire‘, which was one of the longest stories in the book, at 32 pages, and which is one of my favourites, a baby is born to parents. But his parents are not happy. The baby grows up rapidly. It soon discovers that its lifetime is eight days and within that time, it has to enjoy childhood, learn skills, become an adult, find a mate, have kids and bring up its kids. It also discovers that its ancestors were humans who settled down in this planet and something in this planet shortened and accelerated their lifespan. What the baby does about this forms the rest of the story. Very fast paced and gripping.

I loved ‘The Stories of Ray Bradbury‘. It was 894 pages of pure reading pleasure! There is something in it for everyone. I am glad I finally read it. If you get a chance do read it and share your thoughts.

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