Sunday, April 11, 2010

Book Review: March 2010


March was disparate reading. Three genres, three worlds. A Newsroom, an advertising agency and Central Asia. Feels nice : )

The books being reviewed this month are:
  1. Stilettos In The Newsroom by Rashmi Kumar
  2. Welcome To Advertising, Now Get Lost by Omkar Sane
  3. In Xanadu by William Dalrymple

Stilettos In The Newsroom
Rashmi Kumar

So I wanted to know more about how Newspapers/News Channels work. The blurb of this book looked inviting…It’s about what life is, being a journalist and not being one through the eyes of a twenty-eight year old journalist…and so I picked it up.

 

But this book is far from the ‘real chronicler of events’ that it claims to be. It is chick-lit. And bad chick-lit at that. I can’t even begin to describe how bad a book can get but this might give you an idea – two chapters have got swapped and the book went into print. The narrator talks about getting married in chapter 25 and about being proposed for marriage in chapter 26. I went back to the book to reconfirm I wasn’t missing something fundamental…it’s always proposal and then marriage right? Right…the chapters have definitely got swapped.

Now I am more interested in knowing what happens inside Publishing Houses more than newsrooms. How does a blunder like this come into effect? Just how?

More than the blunder, which most people can just get around by reading the 25th chapter again after the 26th, it is the quality of the writing itself that is questionable. It is a rulebook apparently…every chapter ends with a rule. Something the narrator has learned during the incident being narrated. Some of them are downright cheesy. Sample this: Journalism rule number 18: don’t be guilty about kissing asses. And that ought to pretty much give you a feel of what the book is about.

The story begine in Poona but there is Delhi involved as is it’s upper class of the society. There is office politics. There is the regular office guy who hits on the narrator. There is the girl friend who acts as the friend, philosopher, guide. What exactly in this book is new?  Zilch. Some people have done wonders with this combination of factors (Everything Happens For A Reason by Kavita Daswani anyone?) There is chick lit that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling once you close the book. But this book is an utter waste in the genre. It’s like a lovely-looking cake and then having the cake pasted all over your face rather than getting to eat it. It’s wasted and you can’t taste it.

Not recommended at all.

Welcome To Advertising, Now Get Lost
Omkar Sane

I am glad Omkar Sane left Advertising and became a writer (I hope that is what he will stick to at least). He has been gifted with the ability to write hilarious stuff that is most unassuming. Now that I think about it I have found an analogy for his kind of writing. It’s like stand up comedy. The comedian keeps a straight face like he is stating the most mundane fact on planet earth. The audience has sides splitting with laughter. Yes, that’s exactly how this book is. Come to think of it, Omkar will make a good stand up comedian…I have a feeling. (I say Omkar and not Omkar Sane because the boy was born in 1984 and that makes him my absolute contemporary. I think it’s ok to take that liberty)

 

This is a funny book that is like the warning board that says ‘Hard Hat Area’ outside construction sites. You still have to walk in to get work done but you’re better prepared. For anybody already working in advertising or considering a career in advertising, this book is a must read. For others, people stressed by the traffic jam on the way back from work, people getting stressed over who did or didn’t make it to the IPL semi-finals, people stressed in general, this book is a must read too. It will give you a good laugh and the beautifully done up pages that introduce every chapter will refresh your mundane-infested eyes.

What is beautiful about the book is that somewhere Omkar is stating facts. He is ripping (Indian) advertising apart but he hasn’t deviated from the truth too much. He gives you a good insight into that world while also twisting the truth to make a joke out of it. And that is where Stilettos In The Newsroom needs to learn from it…how to tell the truth (when you claim to in your blurb) and still make a great book out of it. For that and for being so hilarious, I respect Welcome To Advertising as also Omkar Sane. I wish he writes more. And I wish at least some of you read the book and enjoy it.

Loved this one!

In Xanadu
William Dalrymple

A delightfully written travelogue that has me longing to go to central Asia and the countries around. A story of adventure, of rediscovery and of peoples. A beautiful book.

In Xanadu has William Dalrymple take the same route as Marco Polo did centuries ago to reach the court of Kubla Khan all the way from Jerusalem with a phial of oil from the Holy Land. The journey covers countries like Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Western China and is a story well-told. Truly, the way he has narrated his story invokes a desire to see in person what he is describing. And there itself, I feel, In Xanadu becomes a piece of literary splendour. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it!

 

Not much else to say about this book except that you should read it. Very different from Dalrymple’s purely historical writings; the personal angle certainly makes a lot of difference. It is an adventure that brings forth the power of human grit and goodness at the same time. It’s a visit to the past that will delight any student of history and cultures. Enough said. Highly recommended.

7 Thinkers Pondered:

Anonymous said...

Good review. However if you want a taste of how bad an author can really really be, you should read Stephanie Meyer's twilight. In all my years of reading, that was the first time a book made me actually puke!

Sritama said...

Hey thanks for the lovely reviews..I always rely on your judgement when it comes to books and well, yes hopefully I can pick up this books soon as well!

Priya Iyer said...

thanks for the reviews!!

stilettos in the newsroom sounded like something thta i'd have wanted to read, but then all was spoilt when you said it was chick lit, and bad one at that :(

dalrymple sounds like something i need to pick up sometime soon :)

Anupama said...

Hey Anonymous,

Thanks for the heads up...would have picked it up out of curiosity and all the hype around it but now I won't...thanks for stopping by :)

Hey Sritama!

I hope you like the ones you pick up as much as I did :) Thanks for the comment...

Hey Priya!

Oh you should definitely read Dalrymple...I am sure you will enjoy In Xanadu...

mentalie said...

i love dalrymple. the way he notices things i take for granted. and i love the cover of the advertising book. but i can't bring myself to read it!

Eveline said...

I feel somewhat threatened by your book reading, like if I don't make some kind of headway soon, it'll collapse on me in the middle of the night and leave me bruised, with paper cuts. I'd like to tell you that this represents the extent of my book-buying obsession but that would make me a liar and my pants would likely burst into flames. There's a limit to how hot I want my ass to be. :P

I am in awe of your book devouring.
I'm currently reading Elie Wiesel's 'Night' - it's a little intense for sleep time, but this is what you get for wanting something great and serious to read. Make sure to stack up on tissues in case you feel like picking up a copy. Happy Friday, Anupama.

Heathcliffs Girl said...

i louwed the dalrymple book.
thinking of reading more of his stuff but just discovered alice munroe so sticking with her! :)