The Hindu Lit For Life 2016 – Day 2 & 3

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The brochure!

Lit For Life 2016 is the  sixth edition of Chennai’s own literary festival, organized by The Hindu newspaper.

The three day deluge of stimulating conversations has come to an end and I’m here  now with my mind going off in multiple places. I have to thank the people at The Hindu for bringing this to Chennai. The city has definitely bagged one more feather to its cap. And I hope to see this festival blossom into an even bigger phenomenon to become a go-to literary festival for South Indians at least. The Jaipur Literature Fest has already set the benchmark quite high.

There were two themes that will probably be my key takeaways this year – one has to do with “taboo” fiction, and the other is the whole mythology/religion/intolerance debate. While it’s true that the audience is equally split between the older and younger audience, it’s nice that we are able to have these conversations without anybody batting an eyelid. I mean, I expected there to be at least a groan or two when author Ananth read out an explicitly raunchy conversation from his erotic novel, but nothing happened and no ambulances were required after all. 😛

As Devdutt Pattanaik rightly put it in his speech, progress do not arise out of a tug-of-war. Nobody will gain anything if either side takes an unassailable position. One has to give a little for the back and forth debate to happen. That’s the only way we can sustain a healthy conversation. It also tied in neatly with the whole freedom-of-speech conundrum in that currently it is indeed very true that the “leftist”  society is going too left that they almost seem like the right wing.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my favourite sessions from the final two days of the fest…

True Detectives: Of sleuths in Gaborone and Edinburgh – Alexander McCall Smith

Am I the only one who hasn’t read Alexander McCall Smith, y’all? Well apparently, he’s this very popular British writer with a staggering number of 84 books under his belt and he’s still writing! This had been a fun session as the author himself seemed like a jolly good man, with a lot of funny one liners that had the audience in splits. And I’m most definitely gonna pick up his title “The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” as everyone had great things to say about it.

Kama’s Sutra – Amrita Narayanan, Ananth Padmanabhan, Margaret Mascarenhas

An interesting discussion on erotic fiction. Though all three panelists wrote erotica, they all had different sensibilities which really made me see the number of ways one can approach any topic. My favourite was Amrita Narayanan’s attempt to delicately sexualize everyday life in her short story collection, which for the most part is not even given a curt nod to in this part of the country.

Coming Out – Sandip Roy, Living Smile Vidya, Philip Hensher

I was pleasantly surprised that they even had this session. As expected, the auditorium was only half filled for this one but what matters is that people came at all. Sandip and Philip are both openly gay authors and Vidya is the first transgender woman in India to hold a proper corporate job. The discussion was a bit desultory given the breadth of the issue at hand but it was interesting nonetheless.

Forbidden Fruit – Lionel Shriver, Manil Suri, Amrita Narayanan and Annie Zaidi

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver will be the next book I read. The book became a widespread phenomenon for its content which is of a mother hating pregnancy and childbirth and then her son, later on. The rest of the panel too had written something on the lines of a “forbidden fruit” which is the danger zone in literature, the unnecessary line that you are expected not to cross. Lionel’s words that while you’re breaking taboo several new ones are continuously taking birth ring very true.

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As one will eventually come to realize, smartphone cameras are just not made for zooming! You can barely make out Amish here. 

Scion of Ikshvaku – Amish

The penultimate session for the year, author Amish got a full house with this one. And as for something that I had been wondering myself, he explained why he cut down the “Tripathi” from his name. Turns out, Tripathi is a caste name in the north and he did not want that to be part of his identity. Which is thoughtful, I guess. Amish came in last year as well which was when he revealed that he was working on a new series which came true in the Ramachandra series. This time the conversation flowed more towards the concepts of religion and belief which I always find interesting. And I’ll admit that while I’m not a fan of the author himself, I’m grateful for what he’s done to increase the readers in our country!

To be honest, the three days flew so fast that time doesn’t seem to be have passed at all and yet here I am at the end of the third day with a lot of experiences and memories to cherish. So long for 2017 now.


Here’s the recap of Day 1 – > link

The Hindu Lit For Life 2016 – Day 1

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Get inkspired, ya’ll!

I wanted to be one of the first people at the auditorium to catch the best possible seats today, and I failed miserably. Who invented this damn Snooze button anyway? Well, as it happened, the event is actually scheduled to start off at 9:30 AM and I found myself entering the gates only at 9:35 AM, which is not good at all. As expected, I had to make-do with a seat at the very back of the auditorium (which by the way, was not as worse since Sir Mutha Venkata Subbarao Concert Hall is actually a pretty amazing place with steep seating so one always gets a clear view of the stage).

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With that rant aside, let me say that I cannot explain just how much I was looking forward to this literature festival in Chennai. It’s not often that a group of distinguished personalities come together to discuss and debate stuff in a civilized manner, leading to a multitude of enlightening and enthralling moments. I like how conversations such as what I witnessed today rekindle the gears in my head, and I’m sure a lot of the audience went home with something substantial to mull over as well.

The event is organized in two venues, one being the main auditorium itself and the other is the Hindu Pavillion which is just outside the auditorium. Sessions are conducted in parallel in both the locations so it’s necessary to be prudent when it comes to planning one’s day as you cannot be in two places at once (unless you’re Hermione Granger with a Time-Turner). Needless to say, there was a lot of hopping involved as I flitted back and forth between the Main Auditorium and the Hindu Pavillion to be present for the sessions which I thought would be interesting and up my alley, so to speak.

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Turns out, I made all the right choices – at least for myself!

I won’t spell out the whole day but would like to talk about some of my most favourite ones at least.

KEYNOTE – My Kashmir: Omar Abdullah

This was the very first talk of the day and I enjoyed every second of Mr. Omar Abdullah’s (former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir and current MLA) commentary on the status quo of Kashmir. And I will say this, that a lot of us are probably misinformed or foggy when it comes to the matters of the state of Kashmir; but everything I haven’t learnt in my lifetime I learnt in those fifty-five minutes. He detailed why India and Pakistan behave the way they do when it comes to this sensitive issue, and how he hopes that the next time somebody does talk about Kashmir, they wouldn’t have to talk about the problems of Kashmir but of all the good things about it.

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Anatomy of a Murder: The Aarushi story – Avirook Sen and Tanveer Ahmed Mir

The murder that intrigued and disgusted the nation (and especially the press) to no end, and the court trial which was a ground for countless blatant mistakes. Avirook Sen, the journalist who covered the investigation from Day 1 and Tanveer, who still represents the parents of Aarushi in court, dissected the issue and laid out precisely what went wrong and how our legal system failed in dishing out a proper judgement. Avirook Sen also has a book out titled ‘Aarushi’ and I’m eager to read it. (And by the way, am I one of the very few people who loved Talvar, the movie?)

The Uses and Abuses of Religion – Devdutt Pattanaik and Laila Tyabji

Probably a very hot topic in our country right now which explains why this session turned out to be as fiery as it did! From Devdutt’s passive stance on ‘religious stupidity’ to Laila’s relevant counter-questions, it turned out to be a great discussion (for me personally, as an atheist). While Devdutt is too much of an agnostic for my liking, he does say that we need to respect others’ beliefs and opinions even when we do not subscribe to them. I found myself not agreeing to a lot of what he had to say otherwise (he is a mythology guy after all) and I think I’ll do a separate post on what I think about the topic.

But his one quote rings true – “Never reject the real in favor of the theoretical”


So that’s about it folks, I want to write a lot more but I’m pressed for time. Totally pumped for the coming two days though!

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Well you’ll never guess what I wrote!

A Man Of Some Repute – Elizabeth Edmondson – Book Review

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This is the first book in the A Very English Mystery series penned by Elizabeth Edmondson.

Firstly, there’s no way I’m going to resist a book set in 1950’s Britain and has a cover that looks as delicious as that. And now that I’ve read it, I don’t regret my obsession one bit. I’ve always been quite drawn to the Victorian era. The castles with their butlers and towers, sleepy villages, the slightly regal language and mannerisms – it’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading Conan Doyle and Wodehouse so much! Now Elizabeth Edmondson has come up with an equally delectable tale and I can tell it’s a great start to a potentially delightful series.

As is usual with mysteries, some one is dead at the beginning. In this case it’s the Lord Selchester, Earl of the intriguing village Selchester. He is presumed dead after he goes missing one stormy night never to return again. Seven years later, our protagonist Hugo Hawksworth (an ex-army official) and his teenage sister Georgia arrive from London as temporary lodgers at the castle as Hugo is given a desk job at a local office following his leg injury. The police seem to be on the verge of closing the case but the death of the Earl naturally kindles his curiosity and he starts to poke around until one shocking discovery which will change everything. Motives are sought, friends are questioned and the mystery becomes more woolly as the truth gets revealed in layers. It ends rather unexpectedly but in a satisfactory way.

I also liked how unpredictable the plot was. Sure, you have a standard template when it comes to crime-detective books but this one took nice detours along the way. The characterization was also something to be given credit to, as it is evident that the author took a special interest in giving all the characters some personality quirks that made them stand out in someway or the other. For example, Georgia’s gluttony. It’s a random detail and isn’t really relevant to the story but it makes the character that much more three dimensional.

I did have a minor issue with the way dialogue was used as information dump, especially at the very beginning. I was saying to myself that people don’t generally speak this way in real life, unless they’re characters in a play. And maybe that was the intended effect as each chapter was indeed divided into ‘Scenes’, but it did feel a tad awkward but thankfully got better as the book progressed.

All in all, a great cozy afternoon read if you’re into the kind of books this one falls under. Highly recommended and I will be picking up the second installment soon as this one does end on a surprise reveal!

Lit For Life 2016 (Chennai’s Literature Festival)

[UPDATE:

Day 1 Recap

Day 2 &3 Recap   ]

 

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Come January 15th, the best three days of the year begin for me with Chennai’s Literature Fest (officially called Lit For Life) organized by The Hindu. 

Conducted over three days and comprising numerous interviews and panel discussions with authors and other popular personalities from India and abroad, it is the most ‘intellectual’ place to be around for sure. The written word is mightier than anything, and this is a great chance for anyone who loves the world of books (and the stories and intent behind them) to put on their thinking caps and witness interesting conversations unfold on the stage.

I attended the fest last year and was in a state of rapture the whole time. The very first interview was with Eleanor Catton who was so inspiring that it gave me a literal high. Some of the other discussions were dry, I’ll give you that; but on the whole, just the amount of connect I felt to that world felt so surreal and over-whelming. It’s also when I had the ultimate kick in the gut and realized that this is where I belonged. The world of books and stories and publishing. I dunno if my dreams of becoming an author will ever see fruition, but my oh my is that what I really want!

So if you’re around Chennai during the Pongal weekend (the fest conveniently falls on holidays this time) and if you think this is something you’re gonna enjoy then you should definitely give it a go.

How To Register: 

Registration is free and I’m sure they’ll have spot-registrations as well but it’s safer to register online beforehand, just in case. You just have to visit this link, give your details and you’ll be given a conformation to your mobile and Email address immediately, voila!

http://www.thehindulfl.com/event-registration?ee=1

You can browse the above website for the complete program for the three days. Some of the prominent talkers this year will include Amish Tripathi, Devdutt Pattanaik, Alexander McCall Smith, Barkha Dutt and so on…

Dates: January 15,16,17

Location: Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall,
Lady Andal School, Shenstone Park,
#13/1, Harrington Road Chetpet
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

So Hermione Granger could have been black…No Big Deal!

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Jamie Parker (Harry Potter), Noma Dumezwani (Hermione Granger), Paul Thornly (Ron Weasley)

 

JK Rowling is apparently thrilled that Noma Dumezwani (an award-winning theatre actress) is cast as Hermione Granger in the stage play ‘Cursed Child’, which is also – for all intents and purposes – the eighth installment to the Harry Potter series!

Did the internet go a little wild after announcement? You bet it did. But again, we’re way past the racism crap now. Right now it’s more of a consistency issue. For somebody who has grown up seeing a Caucasian Hermione Granger (and the amazing Emma Watson), it did strike me a teeny bit odd to see a woman of color reprise the character. But a little switch turned on in my head. And a couple of minutes later I was gladly embracing this new version of my beloved heroine.

The books never indeed mention Hermione’s color, but there’s an unwritten law that every character be assumed as white unless specified otherwise. Which is probably not very progressive in hindsight, but it works because it is convenient.

If I have one pet peeve with JK Rowling, it’s that much of these fringe character traits seem to be cropping up outside of the books. Dumbledore is gay, but if Rowling hasn’t revealed that info we would have been none the wiser. These things almost sound like an after-thought, something she decided to throw in to make her world more diverse. On which note, if you ask me, I could only quote Dean Thomas and Angelina Johnson as the only other black people, off the top of my head.

Anyhoo, back to the ‘Cursed Child’! I cannot contain my excitement as this is the official continuation of the Harry Potter series when Harry, Ron and Hermione are all grown up and battling middle-age. The cursed child here is apparently Harry and Ginny’s youngest son, Albus Severus!

In case you missed it, here’s the synopsis from Pottermore!

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

I have no idea how people outside of the United Kingdom will get to watch this play though!

Let me know what you think of the above and if you cannot wait to know what the story is all about!!!

Image Source: Original article on Pottermore

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga – Book Review

 

As the blurb puts it, you meet “BALRAM HALWAI: THE ‘WHITE TIGER’: SERVANT, PHILOSOPHER,ENTREPRENEUER, MURDERER…”

Who wouldn’t want to read that?

And so they did, and then it even went on to win the Man Booker Prize 2008. But go through the reviews and you’ll notice something peculiar. While all the foreign readers have praised it to no ends, quite a lot of Indians have found the book to be obnoxious in its depiction of the “dark” India, even gratuitous in its supposed pandering to the western crowd. Yes, because it seems that no one wants to read a glossy sugary book about India. What sells are the gritty and ugly details – destitution and corruption and chaos. 

And Aravind Adiga quite promptly rises to the occasion to deliver just that. The White Tiger tells the story of a man Munna a.k.a Balram Halwai born into a family that doesn’t mind “eating their men live” as he pus it. And all he wanted was to break free from a life of bondage. As a self-declared entrepreneur, he looks far and wide for a chance to be something bigger and not live a life working in a tea-shop like his brother does, or pulling a rickshaw like his late father did. A lot of twists and turns and he ends up as a driver-cum-housekeeper for a wealthy family in the city. For a while, he’s happy in his job – he adores his boss, makes good money and he gets to wear a uniform! What happens next is difficult to summarize, as the motivation behind the decisions he make get extremely complicated but let’s just say that by the end of the book he slits his master’s throat and runs away with a boatload of money.

Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler!

This is a book that pretty much begins by saying, “I murdered a man, now let me tell you why” and is not affected by that revelation at all.

If there’s something that I found absolutely spectacular in the book, it’s Balram’s first-person voice. There’s this wonderful brevity to it which you don’t find often, couple that with his bluntness in stating the hard realities and you’ve got a narrator who is extremely hard to put down. I did finish this book in just two sittings, which is a testament to the wonderful plot and fast-paced narration.

Then there’s also the question of moral ambiguity that the author gets so frighteningly right. While we all know that no one is really totally good or bad, the more intriguing realization is finding out that we are all capable of doing insane and inhuman things at times, either deliberately or inadvertently. While our protagonist Balram probably takes it to the extremes, I did find myself identifying with some of the decisions he makes. As I said, the author gets it frighteningly right.

But coming back to our initial discussion about the country itself, I have found out recently that Indians are an amusing bunch. Tell them there’s something wrong with the country, they’ll point to a worse nation and say that we are better in comparison. Yes, because that’s the golden argument, isn’t it? We have become desensitized to a lot of real issues that this book talks of. Poverty and corruption are an accepted part of our environment now. So when a book comes along putting all of that in the fore-front, we’re like ‘Wait a minute! This is not the India I know’.  As for me, I felt that in a very very long time I have come across an author who gets it.

I accept, a lot this book feels Bollywood-ish (and I wonder why no one’s made a movie of it yet!), especially the end portions about Balram’s stint in Bangalore which ring too convenient to be true. But the book had to go there to make its point, so I excused the author for that. What I couldn’t excuse him for though is the non-authentic voice. Balram says “seven hundred thousand” when every Indian says “seven lakh”. There are a couple more things like this which take away form the authenticity a bit but thankfully not too much.

My suggestion is, read it!


 

In other news, I’m glad to be writing after a long hiatus. The disaster that shook Chennai sent me into a writer’s block. It’s only now that the words seem to be flowing.

Yes, My Accent Is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You – Kunal Nayyar – Book Review

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Full disclosure: I’ve never been a fan of either Raj Koothrappali or Kunal Nayyar, the actor who plays the role. Raj maybe the face of ‘selective mutism’ on TV (but hey, not anymore!) but I think his character is otherwise very flat and boring. And Kunal’s acting serves little to elevate whatever little shred of empathy Raj accumulates from time to time. He tries too hard to be funny, the writers let him mouth some pretty self-deprecating lines, because he’s Indian himself so think they can get away with it. But seriously, how many jokes on poverty and overpopulation can you withstand before it starts to become irritating? I’m all in for self-deprecating humor but the jokes on this show are just lazy.

With this in mind then, when I picked up his memoir (He doesn’t call it a memoir, but c’mon!), I was looking for any sort of redemption or an interesting layer to his life that we would be surprised about. Unfortunately what it ends up being, initially, a naïve teenager rant of all his girl and guy crushes and how he lost his virginity, and then, progresses to being a depressing and sometimes smug recounting of his life as a theater artist, right up until he landed the role on The Big Bang Theory.

But who would really want to read this? People who just cannot get their Raj fix, and have a couple of hours to kill? I dunno. Is it inspiring? Well, not to me at least. He tries to sell the “rags to riches” and “don’t stop believing in yourself” motifs a bit too hard and maybe somebody would find it really intriguing, but I didn’t.

Also, this book was never written with an Indian reader in mind, which I guess I can understand. He has more American fans than Indian ones. But after a while, it gets a tad boring to read about the stuff you already know. The sad part is, he doesn’t even acknowledge his Indian fan base even once. And then we spend so much time in his teenager-hood that he never really gives us any meat on the show The Big Bang Theory. And his camaraderie with his fellow actors on the show. We only get a passing shout-out in the Acknowledgements!!

The only silver-lining moments are those when he lets himself be vulnerable and talks about his feelings. But these are very few and far between.

So do I appreciate Kunal Nayyar?

For what he’s achieved – heck, yea!

For his acting skills – Nope, at least not yet.

For his writing skills – He’s okay!


Book Cover: From official Goodreads page.

The one where I talk about Astrology, and other things…

Okay so these days I’m in Tome-Reader mode (yes you read that right).

I mean, look at this beast!

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That’s Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize winning novel The Luminaries for you.

Now there’s a reason why I’m always wary of fat books. And fat people who write fat books. Yes, I’m looking at you –  George R.R. Martin! A Song of Ice and Fire is a series that takes an awful lot of patience just to get through, and you will have a read a 1000 page tome containing a story that could be summarized in just a couple of paragraphs. So yes, I’m very wary of fat books indeed.

So naturally, my instincts have told me to stay away from The Luminaries. And yet, I picked it up. Sometimes there are no justifications to what you do in life. But I probably did because of the craze surrounding this book, with regards to how brilliantly it’s been structured. It takes astrology as its base, assigning each character to a celestial object – with the people behaving and interacting with each other just like their space counterparts. Also, the chapters halve in length as you progress i.e the second chapter is half as long as first and so on, and this mirrors a waning moon. So undoubtedly, it’s the most ambitious project ever taken up by any author.

But this post isn’t about the book.

When I attended Eleanor Catton’s panel at Chennai’s Literature Fest earlier this year, she has said something that registered in my mind immediately. When asked if she truly believed in astrology, she replied (and I’m paraphrasing) –

How interesting it is, to imagine, that your life is controlled by these random stars and planets in space. That there’s order in the chaos. And that it all means something.

Now if you’ve followed my blog enough, you’d know that I don’t believe in any of that. But one can totally see why ‘astrology’ and ‘horoscopes’ are still present in the 21st century. Sometimes when we want to believe something, we believe it no matter what the rational part of our brain might say. And it is at best harmless, which is also the reason why the charade of consulting an astrologer for any Hindu wedding is still an important step. Of course, astrologers need to keep their jobs too.

If I can give my post a bottom line, it’s only this – We humans take solace from the fact that we are not the ultimate controllers of our own lives. 

What an intriguing species indeed.  But what’s your take on astrology? I’d love to hear it!

The Rise of Hastinapur – Sharath Komarraju – Book Review

As someone who never really had an inclination towards mythology, Sharath Komarraju’s Hastinapur series came as a pleasant surprise in my reading journey. It is Mahabharata told from the point of view of some of the leading ladies of the tale. Which is interesting, because women are most of the times relegated to the sidelines when it comes to these large-scale epics. It’s always about the might and magic, who wins and who loses. But there are other people too, the ones who watch everything silently, the ones who become victims of the whims of men, either harboring vengeance or looking for redemption. These are the women of the Mahabharata and Sharath brings their stories to the forefront like never before.

This book covers three women – Amba, Pritha (Kunti), and Gandhari. Each of their stories are unique in their own way. But what I loved immensely about the book is the humane aspect of it. I don’t know if Mahabharata was ever told at such a deeply personal level. The characters feel alive and real, their state of mind authentic to the time period the story is set in. You empathize with their plight, even when you’re not really sure how their predicament could be solved. The solution, when arrives in the story, is equally surprising and Sharath does pull off a couple of neat twists right under your feet. Now I’m not a master at Mahabharata or anything, but I know that he tweaked the original story a bit (but of course, who are we kidding, this epic must have seen a million tweaks by now) which actually makes the proceedings more intriguing because you’re never really sure what to expect. And the final chapter does tie up all the narratives, nicely setting up the sequel. You can see all of the pieces falling into place for the big events of the Mahabharata to begin.

Sharath also impresses with his prose again, the language and dialogues have that old-world charm to them. Compare that to the modern-ish banter of the Shiva Trilogy and you’ll know what I mean. The author also relies on sensory detail to make a point. A lingering sound or smell is effectively used a couple of times, which I thought was pretty neat. The dialogs were clever and sharp, and the narrative breaks into first-person from time-to-time taking us closer to the characters.

So should you read this book? I would definitely say yes. If you love Indian mythology, this fresh perspective will only add more firewood to the flame. Even otherwise, I feel that this is a great place to start one’s journey in mythology. Just so you know, this is the second book of the series and I highly recommend the first one ‘Winds of Hastinapur’ as well.

Note: I’m an early reviewer for this book which goes up for sale in December, but you can pre-order it right now on Amazon.

All The Wrong Questions – Lemony Snicket – Book Review

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A Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket is one of my all time favourite book series. Yes, I know it’s targeted more towards children, but hey I read all thirteen of those books when I was 14 or 15 years old. But I still remember how reading them made me feel. The woeful fate of the Baudelaire children, their tryst with Count Olaf, the way these children jump from place to place to find out the truth about their parents, only to get thwarted each time by Olaf. Now Lemony Snicket is both the pen name of the author Daniel Handler and also the name of a character in the books. He is our narrator through all the books who secretly watches the lives of these three kids and also their family before. And actually, much of the book’s charm is derived from Lemony’s quirky voice – the writing voice, I mean – as he goes on to explain everything in his own depressing tone. But Lemony as a character does not really come across fully in those books.

But now, he’s back in a series that tells of adventures as a 13 year old in a weird town called Stain’d By The Sea. This series titled All the Wrong Questions is about four questions that Lemony Snicket asked at different times tied to four different but interconnected events. There are a total of four books, and I’ve read the first three till now with the fourth in pipeline. But I couldn’t contain my excitement after reading the third book so I’ve decided to do a review right away instead of waiting till the fourth book is also done away with!

For one, we finally know what V.F.D stands for!!!!!!!

If you have read ASOUE previously, you would know how big that is. In the initial series, all we see are questions raised one after the other with no answers in sight even by the end of the thirteenth book. I was slightly disappointed at that time, but had to be content that the journey had at least been wonderful. It was like LOST all over again. So you can imagine my delight to see him revealing information in this series. And what more, we also get a passing reference of Count Olaf as a school kid.

I won’t discuss the plot, but let’s just say there’s a nemesis with an evil scheme that’s not apparent yet and no one realizes it, but Lemony Snicket might be the key to solving the case. Much of his quirkiness is intact, as are the writing props. You know, the way he defines the meaning of words in context and also segueing into deeply psychological analysis in the midst of all the chaos. He is aided by other wonderful kids in the town. But they all answer to Lemony as they trust his genius. In the third book, Lemony introduces us to something called as a “fragmentary plot” where each player only knows his part and nothing makes sense until the final click. But the way these individual books are also treated as a fragmentary plot in the overarching scheme of things. I think you should be able to pick up these books in any order but sequentially is what works best. Otherwise, you’d miss a lot of character development. If you come out and think of the plot, there is nothing spectacular about it. But Lemony is such a great writer that it is difficult to not get addicted to his style of writing. You always want more, and that is exactly why I’m holding off reading the final book in the series as that gives me something to look forward to.

If you’re looking for some light reading, then look absolutely no further. In fact I’d suggest you read the original series if you haven’t already. It was also adapted into a movie starring Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep