Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Dream Merchants [1949]


Harold Robbins would perhaps rank as the most notorious of all popular writers. He is regularly dismissed by the puritans as a sleaze-ball, to put it mildly, and that’s a damn shame in my opinion. The books of even the likes of Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain were once regularly dismissed in a similar fashion, qualifying them as nothing but cheap pulp fictions. Robbins was a far better writer than he is given credit for. He was a first-rate storyteller, and his sophomore novel, The Dream Merchants, bears ample proof to that, as do a number of his other books like The Carpetbaggers and Memories of another Day, to name a couple. For someone like me, who loves cinema, it was easy to fall in love with this fascinating chronicling of the early years of the motion picture industry in America. But the book was not just about giving a slightly fictionalized history of the film industry. A number of Robbins books have dealt with the theme of a guy’s journey from “rags to riches”, only to squander it all – if not monetarily, at least at the personal level; he also liked having two timelines run in parallel; this novel is no exception to either of them. The novel has two strands – in the present, Johnny Edge, now the President of a big production house, must ensure that nasty boardroom politics don’t take him down; the elaborate flashback sequences, which aptly juxtapose the present, tell us about his tumultuous journey through life, his stormy relationships & heartbreaks, his complex friendship with Peter Kessler (the man who founded the studio he now heads), and of course the creation of the company itself. Filled with memorable characters and the universal themes of love, friendship and loneliness, this brilliantly-written and briskly paced book sure packs one hell of a punch to keep the readers hooked to it till it’s very last page.






Author: Harold Robbins
Genre: Drama/Showbiz Drama/Roman a Clef
Language: English
Country: US

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Neuromancer [1984]

Neuromancer was William Gilbson’s debut novel, and, over the years, it has gained a permanent place in the pantheon of visionary and influential science-fiction novels (in general) and in the genre of “cyberpunk” (in particular). Come to think of it, this was the book that made “cyberspace”, among others (ICE, or Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics, is now popularly referred to as Firewall), a part of daily vocabulary. Its postmodernist ideation was way ahead of its times, and yet its themes of urban loneliness, memory and what it is to be human, coupled with its atmosphere that of grime and grunge, have lent it an air of universality. The novel’s principal protagonist is Case, a perennially doped and washed out former “cyberspace cowboy” whose ability to interface with the “Sprawl” was destroyed when he had double crossed his employer. Now, a mysterious guy called Armitage is offering him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redeem himself by committing the mother of all cybercrimes. And he has at his side a “street samurai” by the name of Molly who has glass lens for her eyes and retractable blades under her nails. The novel, which forms the first part of Gibson’s “Sprawl Trilogy”, is mindbending to say the least. Therefore, suffice it to say, it isn’t an easy read by any stretch of imagination. The novel is filled with jargons (most of them concocted by the author himself), and nothing has been served on the platter, thus making the reader work in order to decipher a lot of the logic and wordplay that the author has made ample use of. It wouldn’t be honest of me to say that I immensely enjoyed this bleak and visceral book, but the fact that Time magazine included it in its list of 100 Best English-Language Novels of 20th Century, further reiterate its place in popular culture.



Author: William Gibson
Genre: Thriller/Science-Fiction/Cyberpunk/Modernist Literature
Language: English
Country: US

Bonjour

I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book. ~Groucho Marx

As far back as I can remember, I have always loved reading books. My choice of books has changed over time, so much so that the kind of authors, genres, styles of writing, artistic quality, subject matter, etc. of the books (novels, novellas, short stories, graphic novels, comic strips) that I’ve read over the years could even be used to elucidate my journey as a person through various stages of knowledge, opinion, belief and maturity, and the ensuing evolution of my thought processes. Suffice it to say, books of all possible kinds would find a place here, ranging from English to Bengali (as also other languages translated to either English or Bengali), conventional novels to graphic novels, classics to contemporary fictions, blistering dramas to farcical satires, high-brow to pulp, glee to grunge.

I’d begun my association (and hopefully a life-long one at that) with blogosphere with my movie blog Cinemascope. And now with Biblioscope I’ve decided to enter the world of literary-blogs or lit-blogs as well (if there’s such a word, that is). Given that it is difficult to read books at the same pace as watching movies, I won’t be able to update this blog with the same frequency as my movie blog. So, to keep the blog ticking, instead of just reviewing the books that I would have read after the creation of this blog, I’ve planned to review, from time to time, some of the books that I’ve read earlier as well – ones which have found a place not just in my dusted book-shelves but also a permanent one in my overstuffed mind.

To cut a long story short, I’ve found yet another activity to keep myself occupied, as if there weren’t enough already.

So without further ado, I present to you all… Biblioscope.


Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all. ~Abraham Lincoln

Monday, August 1, 2011

Catalogue of Book Reviews at Biblioscope

  1. A Burnt-Out Case (1960) - Graham Greene
  2. The Adventures of Augie March (1953) - Saul Bellow
  3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) - Lewis Carroll
  4. All the King's Men (1946) - Robert Penn Warren 
  5. American Pastoral (1997) - Philip Roth
  6. The Anatomy Lesson (1983) - Philip Roth 
  7. Aranyak (1976) - Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay
  8. Aranyer Din Ratri (1968) - Sunil Gangopadhyay
  9. The Armies of the Night (1968) - Norman Mailer 
  10. As I Lay Dying (1930) - William Faulkner 
  11. A Study in Scarlet (1887) - Arthur Conan Doyle 
  12. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977) - Mario Vargas Llosa
  13. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933) - Gertrude Stein 
  14. The Bad Girl (2006) - Mario Vargas Llosa
  15. The Barbarous Coast (1956) - Ross Macdonald
  16. The Basement Room (1936) - Graham Greene 
  17. Bech: A Book (1970) - John Updike 
  18. Bech at Bay (1998) - John Updike
  19. Bech is Back (1982) - John Updike
  20. The Big Clock (1946) - Kenneth Fearing
  21. The Big Kill (1951) - Mickey Spillane
  22. The Big Nowhere (1988) - James Ellroy
  23. The Big Sleep (1939) - Raymond Chandler
  24. Black Spring (1936) - Henry Miller
  25. Bleak House (1852) - Charles Dickens 
  26. The Book of Daniel (1971) - E.L. Doctorow 
  27. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979) - Milan Kundera 
  28. Bordersnakes (1996) - James Crumley
  29. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) - Truman Capote
  30. Brideshead Revisited (1945) - Evelyn Waugh 
  31. Cafe Europe (1996) - Slavenka Drakulic 
  32. Call for the Dead (1961) - John le Carre
  33. Casino Royale (1953) - Ian Fleming
  34. Chaturanga (1916) - Rabindranath Tagore 
  35. Chokher Bali (1903) - Rabindranath Tagore 
  36. City of Djinns (1993) - William Dalrymple
  37. Closely Observed Trains (1965) - Bohumil Hrabal
  38. Cogan's Trade (1974) - George H. Higgins
  39. The Cold War (2005) - John Lewis Gaddis
  40. The Comedians (1966) - Graham Greene 
  41. The Counterlife (1986) - Philip Roth
  42. Crime and Punishment (1866) - Fyodor Dostoevsky 
  43. Curfew (1986) - Jose Donoso
  44. The Day of the Locust (1939) - Nathanael West 
  45. The Dean's December (1982) - Saul Bellow
  46. Desolation Angels (1965) - Jack Kerouac
  47. The Doomsters (1958) - Ross Macdonald
  48. Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) - George Orwell 
  49. Down There (1956) - David Goodis
  50. The Dream Merchants (1949) - Harold Robbins 
  51. The Drowning Pool (1950) - Ross Macdonald
  52. Eight Million Ways to Die (1982) - Lawrence Block
  53. The End of the Affair (1951) - Graham Greene 
  54. Exit Ghost (2007) - Philip Roth
  55. Fahrenheit 451 (1953) - Ray Bradbury
  56. Farewell, My Lovely (1940) - Raymond Chandler 
  57. Fast One (1933) - Paul Cain
  58. Fear of Dying (2015) - Erica Jong
  59. Fear of Flying (1973) - Erica Jong 
  60. The Feast of the Goat (2000) - Mario Vargas Llosa
  61. Fiesta: The Sun also Rises (1926) - Ernest Hemingway 
  62. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) - Philip K. Dick
  63. Focus (1945) - Arthur Miller 
  64. The Galton Case (1959) - Ross Macdonald
  65. The German Comedy (1990) - Peter Schneider
  66. The Ghost Writer (1979) - Philip Roth 
  67. Ghunpoka (1959) - Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay
  68. The Glass Key (1931) - Dashiell Hammett 
  69. The God of Small Things (1997) - Arundhati Roy
  70. Goodbye to Berlin (1939) - Christopher Isherwood
  71. Gorky Park (1981) - Martin Cruz Smith 
  72. Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) - James Baldwin
  73. The Great Gatsby (1925) - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  74. The Grifters (1963) - Jim Thompson
  75. Heart of Darkness (1899) - Joseph Conrad 
  76. The Heart of the Matter (1948) - Graham Greene
  77. Herzog (1964) - Saul Bellow
  78. The High Window (1942) - Raymond Chandler
  79. The Honorary Consul (1973) - Graham Greene 
  80. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) - Arthur Conan Doyle
  81. The Human Factor (1978) - Graham Greene 
  82. The Human Stain (2000) - Philip Roth
  83. Humboldt's Gift (1975) - Saul Bellow
  84. If This is a Man (1947) - Primo Levi 
  85. Ignorance (2000) - Milan Kundera
  86. I Married A Communist (1998) - Philip Roth 
  87. The Innocent (1990) - Ian McEwan
  88. I Served the King of England (1983) - Bohumil Hrabal 
  89. Jagori / The Vigil (1945) - Satinath Bhaduri
  90. The Joke (1967) - Milan Kundera
  91. The Killer Inside Me (1952) - Jim Thompson 
  92. The Last Good Kiss (1978) - James Crumley
  93. The Last Picture Show (1966) - Larry McMurtry
  94. Liquidation (2003) - Imre Kertesz
  95. Lolita (1955) - Vladimir Nobokov
  96. Lonesome Traveler (1960) - Jack Kerouac
  97. Love and Garbage (1986) - Ivan Klima 
  98. Maggie Cassidy (1959) - Jack Kerouac
  99. The Magic Lantern (1990) - Timothy Garton Ash
  100. The Maltese Falcon (1930) - Dashiell Hammett 
  101. The Man in the High Castle (1962) - Philip K. Dick
  102. Mendelssohn is on the Roof (1960) - Jiri Weil
  103. Miami Blues (1984) - Charles Willeford
  104. The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935) - James Thurber
  105. The Ministry of Fear (1943) - Graham Greene 
  106. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017) - Arundhati Roy
  107. Moby-Dick (1851) - Herman Melville 
  108. Monsignor Quixote (1982) - Graham Greene 
  109. Mottled Dawn (1948-1955) - Saadat Hasan Manto
  110. Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935) - Christopher Isherwood 
  111. Mr Sammler's Planet (1970) - Saul Bellow 
  112. Mrs Dalloway (1925) - Virginia Woolf 
  113. My Dark Places (1996) - James Ellroy
  114. My Life and Hard Times (1933) - James Thurber
  115. Neuromancer (1984) - William Gibson
  116. Old Masters (1985) - Thomas Bernhard
  117. Our Man in Havana (1958) - Graham Greene 
  118. Naomi (1924) - Junichiro Tanizaki 
  119. Pedro Paramo (1955) - Juan Rulfo 
  120. Pick-Up (1955) - Charles Willeford 
  121. The Pigeon Tunnel (2016) - John le Carre
  122. Portnoy's Complaint (1969) - Philip Roth 
  123. The Power and the Glory (1940) - Graham Greene
  124. The Prague Orgy (1985) - Philip Roth 
  125. Prajapati (1967) - Samaresh Basu
  126. The Quiet American (1955) - Graham Greene 
  127. The Radetzky March (1932) - Joseph Roth
  128. Rajkahini (1905) - Abindranath Tagore
  129. Ravelstein (2000) - Saul Bellow 
  130. The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta (1984) - Mario Vargas Llosa
  131. Red Harvest (1929) - Dashiell Hammett 
  132. The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) - Mohsin Hamid
  133. The Rosie Project (2013) - Graeme Simsion
  134. Sabbath's Theatre (1995) - Philip Roth 
  135. Seize the Day (1956) - Saul Bellow 
  136. Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) - Kurt Vonnegut
  137. Starshoop Troopers (1959) - Robert A. Heinlein
  138. Stasiland (2001) - Anna Funder
  139. The Tenth Man (1985) - Graham Greene 
  140. That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana (1957) - Carlo Emilio Gadda
  141. The Thin Man (1934) - Dashiell Hammett 
  142. The Third Man (1949) - Graham Greene 
  143. The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) - John Buchan 
  144. To Jerusalem and Back (1976) - Saul Bellow
  145. To Kill A Mockingbird (1960) - Harper Lee 
  146. Too Loud a Solitude (1976) - Bohumil Hrabal 
  147. Travelling with Che Guevara (1978) - Alberto Granado
  148. Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962) - John Steinbeck 
  149. Travels with My Aunt (1969) - Graham Greene 
  150. The Trial (1925) - Franz Kafka
  151. Tropic of Cancer (1934) - Henry Miller 
  152. Tropic of Capricorn (1938) - Henry Miller
  153. The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984) - Milan Kundera
  154. V for Vendetta (1982-1989) - Alan Moore & David Lloyd
  155. The Wall Jumper (1982) - Peter Schneider 
  156. Ways of Escape (1980) - Graham Greene 
  157. The Way Some People Die (1951) - Ross Macdonald
  158. When the Moon Shines by Day (2017) - Nayantara Sehgal
  159. Wiseguy (1986) - Nicholas Pileggi 
  160. Without Feathers (1975) - Woody Allen 
  161. The Wrong Case (1975) - James Crumley
  162. Zinky Boys (1989) - Svetlana Alexievich
  163. Zuckerman Unbound (1981) - Philip Roth