Posts

Showing posts from July, 2015

Catch Me A Colobus by Gerald Durrell

Image
Gerald Durrell, who in this photo looks somewhat like a stout twinkly-eyed wizard, happened to be born in India. He was an English naturalist who believed that zoos should primarily act as reserves for endangered species of birds and animals. He founded a unique zoo to capture, collect and raise rare animals facing extinction, aiming to breed and perhaps eventually release them back into the wild. The wikipedia page of the Jersey Zoo, now called Durrell Wildlife Park, is worth a perusal. 
Summary: In this memoir-like book, Durrell has returned from a trip to Australia, only to find his zoo in shambles. In Catch Me A Colobus, he recounts how they set up the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, found sponsors and eventually built the zoo back into shape. The first half of the book is a compilation of vignettes expansing about seven years at Durrell's Jersey Zoo. From escaped chimps, pregnant tapirs and bullying parrots to stories of the strange characters that visit the zoo, like a …

On simple pleasures and a long overdue day-trip

Image
This post is not about books. Let us call it an answer to, "What do you do other than read?" - an annoying question that is often popped my way. Last week I took a much needed day-out - a tiny road trip to a place called Mahabaleshwar, about a three hour drive from home, with many stops along the way. Mahabaleshwar is a hill station that attracts loud partying crowds through the weekends so we went on a Thursday, desperately hoping to have it all to ourselves. A good idea, it was quiet and soothing. I always have all sorts of fun with my mother no matter where we are but the rain made this day most special.
Lately I have had a curious obsession with references of rain in books. And there aren't as many rainy good-times in literature as I expected. No kissing, dancing, playing scenes. It's all power, destruction or simple hassles. Disappointing, really. Last Thursday, it rained quite a bit and the whole time there we were walking through clouds. It was dreamy and ver…

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (the movie)

Image
The film begins so - "The breakthrough in medical science came in 1952. Doctors could now cure the previously incurable. By 1967, life expectancy passed 100 years."
Never Let Me Go is set in this alternate reality. It follows the lives of three children, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy who grow up together in a typical English boarding school. Except, Hailsham is not an ordinary school. The children are "duplicates" or clones whose lives have a special purpose - to make organ donations, a fate clear to the viewer from the start, but not to them. A coming-of-age journey like no other, Never Let Me Go is a search for identity, hope, a tale of friendship and unrequited love, as Kathy, Ruth and Tommy grow up to face what the world has in store for them. 
Two years ago, I wrote a rant-review of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, the book (read more about the plot there.) The movie, directed by Mark Romanek (who unsurprisingly I had never heard of), is also a beauty. Like the book, …

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Image
Homo homini lupus - man is wolf to man.

Floating on waves of post-book happiness. Blown away. So dark, menacing, so urgent. Painful. Cerebral. Compulsively readable.... an outpouring of admiration, that was me for hours after I finished the book. I had to call my sister to effuse. This review is thanks to her. 
"The fate of people is made like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of cardinals, the pomp and processions. This is how the world changes: a counter pushed across a table, a pen stroke that alters the force of a phrase, a woman's sigh as she passes and leaves on the air a trail of orange flower or rosewater; her hand pulling close the bed curtain, the discreet sigh of flesh against flesh..."
Picture this. England of the 1520s. As secret wildfires of a new religion are lit through Europe, Englishmen are burned for heresy. Queen Katherine has failed to bear Henry VIII a son. England is on the brink of a civil war. Enter Anne Boleyn, a…