This week at Oxford Bookstore
Sam's Letters to Jennifer
Headline, Rs. 395
SAM'S LETTERS to Jennifer has been on international bestseller lists for several weeks now, and despite being feel good in that typically slap-it-on-thick American way, it's very readable; it's even heart warming, if you can shush up your sniggering mind. The reading itself is made easy by Patterson's structural style he rarely has a chapter that runs to more than two pages and, the simple way of narration.
The tale is rather ingenuous. Jennifer's ageing grandmother, Sam, short for Samantha, leaves a series of letters for her in which she tells of her own life, revealing that the man she was married to all her life was not the one she loved, bringing out the transformative quality of passionate love through the incidents of her own life, hoping that it will persuade Jennifer to not shut out the possibility of loving again after the death of Danny. Though it doesn't have much of a plot and reads like a cross between a miracle story and an inspirational tale, Sam's Letters to Jennifer is still nice. I don't know, maybe it's all because Jennifer is a newspaper columnist trying to magic out a shining column from life.
Is New York Burning?
Dominique Lapierre, Larry Collins
Full Circle, Rs. 195
IS NEW York burning? Again? Lapierre and Collins spent two years on the research for this book, which is one more in the spate of New York specific disaster fiction after 9/11, 2001. The story is set in 2004, with New York once again under terrorist attack, this time, though, prior to the threatened blast, with the possibility of still saving the city, if the President can force his Israeli allies to abandon all territories occupied after the 1967 war.
"Will the President give in to this blackmail? Could a terrorist group have really gotten access to an atomic bomb and smuggled it into the United States? Can the forces of the most powerful nation on the planet find the hidden bomb and defuse it before it can explode? Could they, if necessary, evacuate New York?"
These are the questions whose answers make up Is New York Burning? A rather tedious little book, somehow seeming already outdated, what with Saddam Hussein still free and powerful.
The Full Cupboard of Life
Alexander McCall Smith
Abacus, Rs. 220
ONE REVIEW states: "If Jane Austen tiring of Bath, bodices and gentleman who are not quite what they seem, had conceived the notion of writing a detective novel... The Full Cupboard of Life is surely the kind of narrative she would have produced." That might well be true, for the famed Austen miniature novel, framed in a small patch of country, is not dissimilar to the tone and pace of this series of novels about a lady detective in Botswana.
This is the fifth book in the Mma Ramotswe series remember The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency? and continues with the adventures of this kind-hearted, dignified, and "traditionally built" woman and her detective agency. Set in Botswana, these detective tales have an exotic flavour and are funny and uncomplicated. This particular one has an added interest, Mma Ramotswe's dithering fiancé, who can't seem to make up his mind about the wedding date, and all the usual suspicious characters, tangles, resolutions, and what not.
Thoroughly enjoyable, especially over a crisp apple. Try it. Buy the series while you are at it.
Dude, Where's My Country?
Warner Books, Rs. 231
DUDE WHERE'S My Country? is typical Michael Moore over the top, loud, brash, and full of Michael Moore. Anyway, he seems to be the accepted voice of the season; Fahrenheit 9/11 is doing the rounds, and his books are at various levels of the bestseller ladder. Two of these are on the shelves at Oxford, Dude, Where's My Country? and the earlier Adventures in a TV Nation.
In Dude, Where's My Country?, Moore goes at his mission of "regime change" with claws and teeth and metaphorical loudspeakers and cameras. The questions he asks and the issues he brings up, including that of continued intimacy between the Saudi royal family and the Bushes, are relevant and uncomfortable. Moore has no reluctance in announcing what is wrong with the Bush regime and in laying out solutions. Though the attitude can be quite nauseating, it's an interesting book; you'll see just how much more there is to information we take for granted.
Reviews of Dude, Where's My Country? tend to contain the words "self-serving", "self-promoting", "loud", "grandstanding", "playing to the crowds", and such like, so you can guess the flavour of the book.
KALA KRISHNAN RAMESH
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