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Book Review of “Two Fates: The Story of My Divorce” by Judy Balan

No matter how “modern” we become in our thinking, some things will never change in the Indian society. I’m hinting at one of our most primary concerns, or should I say arrangement – marriage. People still have a lot of trouble convincing their folks to approve of their love/marriage, when they fall in love with a person outside their “community”. A “love marriage” sometimes is still looked down at, in most clans.
Let’s say you face all the music and convince your parents to get you married to the person you love and think it’s going to be a “happily ever after” sort of a life, only to realize that things are not really all that fine. And you (mutually) think of a divorce. Bhamm!
How do you think you’ll convince your parents for that!??!

 

Judy Balan’s debut novel “Two Fates: The Story of My Divorce” revolves around this very plot.
We have a cute couple, Deepika Sundar (a chirpy Tamilian girl) and Rishab Khanna (a handsome Punjabi boy) who after a lot of trials and tribulations convince their parents and get married, and within a couple of years think of getting divorced! On mutual grounds, of course. The trouble they majorly face here is: their parents have developed a fondness for them as well as their respective families. They now look up to Deepika and Rishab as the ideal couple and wish for the other children of their community to follow suit. Oh, and did I mention, how desperately both the families look forward to the couple having a baby!?! It’s true when they say, in India you don’t just marry a person, you marry the entire clan!
The crux of the story definitely is way different from any that I’ve heard/read in a long while. And let me confess, the writing got me hooked from the very first page – the acknowledgement and the prologue had me giggling and laughing and smiling and loving it all the way till the end.

The scenes (almost all of them) are funny and rightly over-dramatic. I could absolutely relate to each and every situation since I share a similar background (professionally and personally).
Imagine the roller coaster ride that the readers are put on, when a money conscious, traditional Tamil family blends in with the forever-partying-and-drowning-in-whiskey Punjabi family!
There is not a single page in here that will not crack you up. If you think the portrayal of Punjabi’s is overtly dramatic and “louder than the drums”, well…it is so! There’s a reason we are “fun-jabis”!

 

Judy has done justice to the plot and the story. It is simply interesting, humorous, entertaining, intriguing, and yes captivating! (Yes, that’s how impressed I was!)
The sweet quibble of the couple; the randomness of the forever-after-your-life- aunties; the pseudo-sophisticated behavior of the so-called NRIs; the typical struggle with boss/colleagues; and the understanding and love that the couple share will stay in your mind even after you put the book down.
For a debut novel, Judy has done wonders. The book makes up for a light read over a relaxed weekend.
Let’s give truly fictional scenes a pass, after all this is just a parody of “you-know-which-book”.

 

I recommend this to every person reading the review. Go pick it up!

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Books and Authors that make you laugh.

I like the fact that some young authors are exploring the lost art of humor writing and coming up with funny books. Here are some of the recent few helpings (of books) that I relished.


Horn OK Please – HOPping to Conclusions by Kartik Iyengar, is a fun-tastic read. It chronicles Kartik’s journey across the country with his friends. The book is hilarious. It has anecdotes from the journey and snippets of randomness that end up instigating brain waves to ponder on the reality around us. A great read -to treasure and cherish!

Dork: The Incredible Adventures Of Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese, by Sidin Vadukut, is a chronicle of a dork. Blunders, mishaps, and errors are a plenty. Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese becomes more of person than just a character. Absolutely hilarious read.

Pyramid Of Virgin Dreams by Vipul Mittra is a brilliantly written satire that reveals the professional lives of IAS officers and the babus in government offices. The books gives a good insight to the world of babudom – the tongue-n-cheek incidents, the sarcasm, the power play by the ones in higher seats, and the ass-kissing agents (Joshi), are very smartly portrayed.
Corporate Atyaachaar: The Comical Journey Of An Office Doormat by Abhay Nagarajan, tells the story of a twenty four year old financial advisor as he encounters many ‘non-financial’ experiences including a dancing dog which suffers from a memory loss, a revelation that a client enjoys hog body massages, a client who paints nude art for charity, a curious case of a ‘stubborn’ nipple and a house hunt for a missing musical mobile!

May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss by Arnab Ray, GreatBong, is a sarcastic, politically incorrect and totally irreverent look at assorted random stuff including Bollywood C-grade revenge masalas, ribald songs of the people, movie punching, fake educational institutes, stubborn bathroom flushes, unreal reality shows, the benefits of corruption, opulent weddings, brains in toaster ovens, seedy theatres and pompous non-resident Indians.

The Mad, Mad World Of Cricket by Sudhir Dhar, captures the funny side of Cricket. All illustrations depicting the witty style of the artist, take a dig at the state of the country when the Cricket season is in full bloom!

The pioneer R. K. Laxman and his quips on the Indian society through the eyes of the common man make for the best satire.

Who can ever forget P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Blandings Castle novels and short stories? The renowned English humorist is best known for the eccentric characters and humorous plots making his readers laugh at every single opportunity.

Oh! and one of my personal favorites is Bill Watterson‘s Calvin and Hobbes collection. Stupendous.

It sure is a difficult task to make someone smile. But it ain’t impossible. All you need (apart from brains) is a good sense of humor and an eye for details.

(Post by Sanjana Kapoor)

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Humor in Writing

Humor does rule the world. At least my world.

Reading humorous pieces livens up our day. It breaks the monotone of work and life. Most problems can be fixed with a dose of laughter. But what I like most about humor pieces is the fact that the point under scrutiny is communicated with much effect and quite intelligently. It also reflects a bit of the writer’s character trait. A writer with a good sense of humor will make sure his/her pieces amuse people.

And others on the verge of writing, here’s a bit of information on the various types of humor in writing:

Burlesque – a form of satire. Burlesque ridicules any basic style of speech or writing. (Parody makes fun of specific writings.)

Caricature – exaggeration of a person’s mental, physical, or personality traits, in wisecrack form. Most people think of sketches when you mention a caricature. But this form of humor reflects well in writing too.

Comedy – a ludicrous and amusing event or series of events designed to provide enjoyment and produce smiles or laughter usually written in a light, familiar, bantering, or satirical style. There are also topical, romantic, satirical, and verbal wit comedies.
The word comes from the French comedie which was derived from the Greco-Latin comoedia which was formed by combining komos, meaning “to revel,” and aeidein, meaning “to sing.”

Exaggeration/Hyperbole – An exaggerated witticism overstates the features, defects, or the strangeness of someone or something. Extreme exaggeration is Hyperbole.

Epigram– clever, short saying about a general group. Mostly satire about mankind.

Incongruity – Lack of harmony between two statements or events is incongruity. A particular situation leading to something totally unrelated does bring in a weirdly funny situation. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a good example of incongruity.

Irony – something that has been said or done differently than what was meant. It’s like someone says the opposite of what they mean and the listener believes the opposite of what they said.

Repartee – includes clever replies and retorts. The most common form is the insult.

Satire – wit that is critical humor. Satire is sarcasm that makes fun of something.

Surprise
– Surprise elements bring in suspense and unexpected twists. And humor eventually.

Sarcasm – this is one of the most popular forms of humor in literature. Known to be a sharp, harsh, bitter or cutting remark on something or someone, sarcasm often receives high appreciation.

Parody -humorous version of any well-known writing.

Pun
– Puns are more of word play. Jokes, one-liners and witty remarks often are composed of puns. (E.g.: What disease can one associate with cigarettes? Answer: Premature death.)

Wisecrack
– any clever remark about a particular person or thing. Wisecracks are quick wordplays about a person.

Wit -humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee. Wit is funny because of the sudden sharpness and quick perception. Wit can bite. Verbal wit is a type of humor known as Wordplay.

Another technique to induce laughter is to mold funny characters. Or give them certain personality traits that make them unique, in a funny way. Making characters give unsolicited advice (E.g.:  Advice to people who want to buy a puppy:  Don’t.); or narrating interesting anecdotes that induce laughter; or blending two or more words to make a new one (fantabulous from fantastic + fabulous) induce amusement.
(To be continued…
Books and Authors that make you laugh.
)

(Post by Sanjana Kapoor)

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Book Review of “Hard Eight” by Janet Evanovich

Hard Eight

By Janet Evanovich

This hysterically funny downright crime thriller is full of action. Super fast paced that it is, I was able to finish it at one go – enjoying the few hours of my otherwise mundane Friday night.

Stephanie Plum, our beloved sloppy/inept bounty hunter has to hunt down Evelyn and her daughter. After having divorced her husband Steven, Evelyn had taken child custody by using her mother’s house for collateral in the bond. Now that she has disappeared, her absence on the day of the hearing will make her mother lose the house. Steph, of course, has to help out.

 

But as she begins her job, a dead body is found on her couch (it is Steven); she is stalked (by a killer rabbit!); and threatened to death(by some powerful crime lord). Did I mention her cars (yes, two of them) are blown up in this one?!

Joe and Ranger are by her side to protect her. But our brave-heart has to undergo her share of thrill.

Our regulars – Lula and Grandma Mazur join in to set the “comedy of errors” trying to capture the bad guys and manage to stay alive. Steph’s sister and her parents add the much needed drama.

This is no great plot as such, but the sheer comic nature and the colorful personalities make this a quick, light and purely entertaining read.

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Book Review of “Twelve harp” By Janet Evanovich

Twelve Sharp

By Janet Evanovich

 

I seem to have an OCD of sorts, I must confess. Every time I see a new Stephanie Plum book I have to read it. And read it to the tee! The best part is that you don’t really have to scratch any part of your grey matter to guess or predict the mystery (mostly). It is not a “psychological thriller” kind. It is pure fun to read.

So officially we have two worst bounty hunters in Trenton, NJ, – Lula and Stephanie (in that order). While on an assignment, Stephanie is stalked and approached by a woman (Carmen Manoso) who not only dresses like Ranger but talks and walks like him. She carries the same attitude that Ranger does. Carmen claims to be Ranger’s wife. She says that Ranger married her, dumped her, emptied their bank account and fled the scene, all within the last six months. Stephanie is shocked to hear that, ‘coz she believes that secretive Ranger ain’t dishonorable enough to treat any woman like that.

Carmen carries a 9mm G-Lock and even fires a bullet into the rear fender of Steph’s new Morris Minnie, just to show her anger.

And Carmen has her own game plan. She’s on the lookout for Ranger, who now seems to be missing along with his twelve year old daughter. The girl has been kidnapped from her birthmother and stepfather in Miami and fingers are pointing to Ranger.

So we have the usual love triangle going in this one as well. Apart from the usual ruckus of being chased and chasing the bad guys, Steph pairs up with Ranger to find a killer, rescue a kidnapped child, avoid being nabbed or shot; and eventually grows close enough to prick the ego/love of Joe Morelli.

In this one, Evanovich highlights the elusive Ranger and gives us a glimpse of the real man.

But the regular (and new) characters in odd situations, not to forget Grandma Mazur and her quirks, make this a “no-brainer” sorta read. Some readers might not like the convenient route taken by Evanovich all the time, but what the heck – it works!

The plot is easy (yeah, predictable); the dialogues are snappy and fun; and the action is strong enough to keep you hooked. Just like the earlier ones, Twelve Sharp is a fast-paced entertaining novel with ample of crazy humor, romantic tension, action, mystery, and a twist (no exploding cars!)

 

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