bookspluslife

July 31, 2012

Book: The Quest by Wilbur Smith

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:40 pm

This is the fourth book in the Taita series. Unusually for Wilber Smith, he tried out the ancient Egyptian scene (instead of his usual South African based books,  including River God, which has been reviewed here earlier.  With its phenomenal success was born the series. The second book, the Seventh Scroll, (Reviewed earlier) was the worst in the series which talked about two archeologists following “Wilbur Smith the Historian’s” clues (yes, really) to unearth the tomb of the Pharoah mentioned in the River God. After being chastised by the relative failure of the book, he returned to his forte of Ancient Egypt to continue Taita’s adventures with the
Warlock, ( Also reviewed here) which was also a great success. This one is a sequel to that one. It is interesting to see the tilt into magic and supernatural in this one, as compared to the first book, where the magic was incidental.

With this book, he continues the story of Taita, who now is really old, and pours a lot more magic and supernatural powers into the
story.

Taita now wants to help the Pharoah to combat an evil that stalks Egypt and indeed all of North Africa. The mighty, inexhaustible Nile has almost stopped flowing and the people are suffering all around. With the muddy swamp that is the Nile has become, there are also carnivorous man eating toads and other weird creatures that have suddenly appeared, and the remaining trickle of water has turned red like blood, making it unusable for both agriculture and drinking. People appeal to the Pharoah for help who has no idea what is
happening.

In the meanwhile, Queen Mintaka falls under the spell of some priests, headed by Soe, who promises her that a new Goddess has the power to cure the ills of the kingdom, as well as return to life the dead children of hers that she mourns with all her heart.

This all happened after Taita left Egypt on a pilgrimage that takes him to an advanced set of priests in the temple of Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning (and so, presumably, to India, though the author never says where) where his Inner Eye is opened and enhances his already considerable powers. When he returns, he divines that the misfortunes afflicting his beloved Egypt is the work of Eos, who is Evil Personified, and has lived for many thousands of years, inflicting misery in different parts of the world, and has constantly strived for world domination.

He realizes that she has to live in a hot place, at the centre of volcanoes and hears of a possible location in the Southern Africa, where a ring of volcanoes exist where Nile flows through. He picks Meren Campbyses, his able and loyal General and sets out to find and conquer her. In the midst of all this, Queen Lostris, the only love of his life (and who features in a major way in River God) sends signals that she is about to be reborn and return to him.

The story also involves Imbali and Nokonto, Sidudu, who was released from oppression by Meren and falls in love with him. It involves Fenn, a young girl rescued by Taita before he realizes that it is Lostris who has come back to him.

He meets other characters, evil and good, including reengineered intelligent large apes, regeneration of lost human organs – Meren’s
eye, which is completely damaged, is regrown, and also gains back all the years he had lost in living them in the process.

The book is pure Wilbur Smith, and follows his formulaic plot, with good and evil characters duking it out, and also with enough gore,
sex, blood and yuckiness to satisfy his fans.

The ending is very disappointing, in a way, though that is explicitly engineered to provide space for the next Taita book. (But that was
not even necessary to do so).

It is as captivating as most other Wilbur Smith’s books, and has the tension that is normal in his books.

Another good read from Smith, but not as good as the Warlock or even River God, in my opinion.

Let us say, a 6/10

— Krishna

July 28, 2012

Movie: The Dark Night Rises

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:46 pm

This is installment three in the Batman reboot done by Christopher Nolan. The director has taken an oft represented story of a comic book character, portrayed in the celluloid itself many times before and given it a new twist in the latest trilogy, starting from Batman Begins, followed by the incredible The Dark Night, with the mesmerizing portrayal of The Joker by Heath Ledger. So there was much anticipation regarding the third and concluding part, this movie.

We do not have Heath Ledger anymore but what made the second movie great was not just his portrayal of the villain but the storyline and indeed the angle taken in all of the new trilogy by the director – the personal view of Batman, why he is what he is, and what he feels and thinks as a man. In fact, as he himself says in one of the movies, he is not a superhero in the conventional sense of the term (he has no inherent superpowers; everything he has is technology, made by his scientist friend Lucius Fox – played by Morgan Freeman – and boy, does he have gadgets to show off in this film!

The movie starts with many years of quiet and peace ruling in Gotham after Batman takes the blame for Harvey Dent’s misdeeds and disappears. The city needs a hero and so the Police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Batman (Christian Bale) decide that Harvey Dent will be that hero. Batman disappears into his alter ego Bruce Wayne, industrialist and philanthropist, and given that his body has been battered anyway to play superhero, tries to live out his life in the quiet.

Things do not stay that way when Bane, an evil genius comes to create havoc in the city and takes on the entire police force, killing policeman, causing mayhem and also wounding the commissioner critically.

Batman has to come to the rescue but he is up against Bane and also a cat burgler Selina (Ann Hathaway) who betrays him to Bane. When he is captured and thrown into an inescapable well, there seems to be no escape for Batman at all.

He seems to be no match for Bane’s strength and cunning and doomed to watch helplessly as his perennial energy device is converted into a nuclear device, planted right in the midst of Gotham city, and his beloved city is being destroyed.

How he comes back to take the city and also find a loyal assistant is the rest of the story.

The gadgets and the sequences are awesome. The storyline is credible and full of suspense. The emotional resignation of Albert, his servant and a father figure, is touching.

The last scene where Albert is in the cafe mourning Bruce Wayne’s self sacrifice to save the city and how it is interrupted by the waiter bringing him his favourite drink without his ordering it, and what it portends, is all well told.

Is this movie good? Undoubtedly. Is it as good as part 2? No. I think Part 2 is still the best in the series. Even without Heath Ledger, the storyline and the presentation of Part 2 would have outshone this.

However, in itself, this is a great movie and entertaining to watch, and deserves a 7/10

— Krishna

Hindi Movie : Vicky Donor

Filed under: HIndi Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:16 pm

Interesting concept. It was touted as one of the funniest movies to come out in recent times. I went with a lot of expectations.

The story is certainly unusual for Indian cinema. A jobless young man Vicky Arora (played by Ayushmaan Khurana) from a comfortable family is taunted by his family for being idle and a nonproductive member of the extended family. He is contacted one day by Dr Baldev Chadda (played by Annu Kapoor)  with a novel job offer.

Dr Chadda is running a fertility clinic in Mumbai and helping couples without children get children. He is searching for a sperm donor because all the prospective men who want to sell their sperm do not have what it takes to give children with the desired qualities of prospective parents. (“If a boy, it should be a film superstar; if a girl, should be a model”). He finds that the sperm donors who supply the raw material for the firm are all not good and their sperm count is not adequate. While he is on the “search” for the right donor, he finds Vicky doing manly feats and suspects that he may be the ideal candidate. When he persuades Vicky to give a sample, he finds that not only the sperm count is sky high but the motility of the sperms is the highest “in the world” (yes, in true Hindi movie hyperbole tradition). Vicky is happy to get a steady income but of course he cannot tell anyone in the family or even the girl he loves what his real job is.

The story has some moments of real fun, like the Punjabi family of Vicky making fun of the Bengali traditions of his girl’s family and the girl’s Bengali family doing the same about his family in private talks. But most of the story revolves around what they deem comedy regarding sperm dornorship and the situations around it. For instance, Vicky is unable to produce the sample required until a few (presumably blue) movies and some (presumably raunchy) magazines are produced for him. Dr Chada describes the power of sperm in reproduction.

Even ignoring the fact that all families who come for fertility clinic are OK to use a donor’s sperm on their wives to conceive (a weird concept of fertility clinics and sperm banks), and even ignoring the fact that the “doctor” Chada blithly assures them that the sperm that he is about to provide them is a “perfect match” for their aspirations, and even overlooking the shades of racial purity and concept of super race reminiscent of the worst of the Nazi philosophies, this movie is stupid beyond belief.

The hilarity falls flat, at least to the ears trained on the Western fare. In fact, the gay sequence in Kal Ho Na Ho was far more hilarious than the contrived humour of this movie.

Ayushman was a radio host of fame before he moved into films with this role. He seems to be clueless and tired in this movie, and I do not know if his comedic timing is good – you just had to watch Amitabh in comedy scenes in his early days to know that he had tremendous comic potential. So was it with Kamal Hassan. I do not think Ayushman measures up to it. Annu Kapoor does a credible job but the weak dialogs and weaker scenes let him down.

The other characters, including Vicky’s sister, his beau, and others are forgettable. Vicky’s girlfriend Ashima Roy, played by Yami Gautam does not stay in the mind but her father impresses at first, until he tamely conforms to the general storyline and fades from view.

I am sorry, I may not be seeing what others see, but to me, Vicky Donor is below average fare.

I would give it a 3/10

— Krishna

July 21, 2012

Book: Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:21 pm

This is a different book from what I expected. It talks about John English, at a point where his life starts spiralling down. John is a successful car dealer, son of the Lion who is a lawyer and a commanding figure. John is married to Caroline Walker, a very beautiful woman who is fully in love with him.

It starts with his alienating the most powerful but irritating man called Harry Reilly, by throwing whiskey in his face in a party for apparently no reason at all. To compound the problem, the ice cubes in the drink give Reilly a black eye and he is a vindictive man. Julian then goes all out to antagonize everyone in turn, picking a fight with his friends Hoffman, Bobby and practically everyone else.

The story is also populated by Ed Charney, who is a mafia don but has a soft spot for Julian and gives him an enormous amount of business. Julian manages to completely upset him and his own wife Carolin by walking out in the middle of the party with Ed’s girlfriend Helen, even while the local thug, Al Grecco had been ordered to watch over her wayward ways, especially when drunk. (By now you think that even if he is setting out deliberately to sabotage his own life, he cannot do a better job)

The thing escalates to a predictable climax.

The story is told very simply, and lacks the depth or charm of master storytellers like Naipaul, for instance, or Maugham (after whose
anecdote is the book named). The behavious of Julian is more like a spoilt brat than an adult, however irresponsible, because in life, even a hot headed guy like Julian would not go so far.

The Paster, who is Roman Catholic but has a soft spot for Protestant drunkard Julian, is interesting. Unfortunately, it is all that is
interesting.

The end of the book is a bit touching, but otherwise, it is a slow, plodding, boring, read, with not much by way of reward when you are done. I would advise you to give this one a miss.

:Let us say, a  3/10

— Krishna

July 18, 2012

Book: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:47 pm

You think that the title of this book is the height of hubris? The amazing thing is that he nearly delivers on his promise! It is a
science book the way science books should be written. I have heard quibbles that he does not use the scientific language and that takes away from the seriousness of the book but if you consider the audience for whom he writes, it is a fantastic job!

Bill Bryson’s easy narration and his unique sense of humour are, of course, very famous in his travel books, starting from his first ‘Notes from a Small Island’ which catapulted him to instant Fame. He uses his breezy storytelling style to devastating effect in this well researched book. The style he uses is to mix the specific idiosyncracies of the scientists involved, including some amazing eccentricities with the science they were involved in slips scientific concepts by you even if you did not notice. But you do notice. Why, because the subject matter is amazing and varied. The Electric Universe by David Bodanis uses a similar technique to also good effect
But the sheer breadth of canvas of this book as well as the unique Bill Style takes it one level above the other book.

The Introduction grabs you by the throat: he explains how improbable it is for you to simply exist! He starts with our galaxy, the known universe and puts into context what insignificant speck a single planet is in the grand scheme of things: all old stuff, but the details in the telling take your breath away. He then turns to the early scientists, and their investigation of our planet: the measurement of the size of the earth, then the age of the earth. He then moves through the intricate concepts of quantum theory and then moves on to evolution and man’s place in the world.

If all these sound like dry stuff to you, that is because of the narration. In Bill’s words, they read like the latest thriller from Dan Brown.

An amazing book filled with facts like : “Slime molds, make no mistake, are among the most interesting organisms in nature. When times are good, they exist as one cell individuals, much like amoebas. But when conditions grow tough, they crawl to a central gathering place and become, almost miraculously, a slug…” and so on. Amazing facts, well reasearched, filling a book that is a delight to read from the beginning to end.

A great read, I would recommend it to anyone interested in pop science or those who are interested in science but do not want to crawl through a lot of scientific vocabulary or a slew of equations.

Another book that deserves a 9/10
— Krishna

July 13, 2012

Book: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:32 am

You read this book and understand why, when the subject matter is right, Stephen King can be one of the best narrators in the business. He has produced some boring books, like Tommyknockers, or the Stand (only my views) and some brilliant books (Rose Madder, Insomnia, Storm of the Century come to mind), and this is very definitely in the latter category, somewhere near the top in that list!

This is a kind of a Castaway in book form, in a way. The story involves Trisha McFarland, and her alone, in the middle of a forest, with no one around to interrupt her life, no other character (real ones anyway) to have a conversation with, and yet the book is gripping and keeps you glued to your book, reading. Come to think of it, many of his books have this simplistic themes, like Dolores Claiborne, which is simply a conversation in a police station the entire book but only he can keep your interest on the lone wanderings of a small girl alone in the forest!

Trisha (Patricia) McFarland belongs to a broken home, with her Dad and Mom divorced and still angry with each other. Pete, her elder brother, is bitter and taunts and angers Mom every chance he gets. When they go, as they usually do, on a six mile trek in the woods in Maine, Trisha just steps aside to relieve herself, and suddenly finds herself hopelessly lost.

Trisha, `nine years old but big for her age’, tries to figure out her way out, using only Mom’s practical advice on the edible fruits in the woods and the poison ivy and some homegrown survival tricks and armed with the faith in the `Subaudible’ God from her Dad, but mainly supported by her fascination with Tom Gordon, the legendary baseball player of Red Sox, who is her hero.

The story gets wonderfully fascinating where the book completely enters the mind of Trisha, a nine year old, populated by her long term friend Pepsi Robichaud, and others. There are hints of her father’s downward spiral after (or was it before) the divorce, and Mom’s unreasonableness, possibly from the bitterness and shock of the divorce itself.

The travails that she undergoes, and they are many, produce a `wait till I tell Pepsi about this!’ kind of nine year old reaction, which is cute and heart rending at the same time.

She goes through increasing throes of weakness. Remembering Stephen King’s penchant for finishing a story in tragedy s half the time, you almost don’t want to read the rest of the book. (I won’t tell you what he does to this young child, as I don’t want to put in a spoiler here)

She goes through a lot of increasing hardships right in the beginning of the book itself; sickness, lack of food, water, hunger, fever, coldness, everything in one step after the next. Her moves through the marsh and her sensing a malevolent force watching her and trailing her, waiting for her to `ripen’ so that it could take her, are all very well told.

The tension is unbearable, and is fantastic. The story is very well told, and the book is entirely in character for the nine year old: except for a few asides where Stephen King tells the state of the family searching for her frantically.

All in all, a great book, for Stephen King fans and non-fans alike. I highly recommend it with a 9/10

— Krishna

July 12, 2012

Book: Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:12 am

This is a strange book by any count. The title itself is unusual, in that it refers to the conversation between two of the Main characters, Miu, a suave, Korean born, rich businesswoman in Japan and Sumire, the heroine of the novel. Miu confuses the word Beatnik with Sputnik and thus becomes a `Sputnik Sweetheard’ in Sumire’s mind.

The other weird thing about this novel is that the narrator is never named. It is just `I’ all through, and others, like Sumire and Miu also call him `you’. Simple. His flings with his various girlfriends include no mention of their names either. Unusual.

All this should have combined to make this novel memorable, except that there is nothing memorable in it altogether. I am told that all of Haruki’s novels are told in this same style, and if so, I have probably read enough Murakami already.

The story is pointless. Sumire comes across as a confused, spoilt, child, clueless in the real world, wild enough to call anyone up at 3 AM from a public phone booth near her Tokyo apartment on a whim. She fancies herself as an author but cannot write if her life depended on it. She never finishes anything. She falls in love with Miu, another girl. The narrator –yes, the nameless one – is desperately in love with Sumire but finds solace in flings with other women, the details of which he shares with Sumire.

The author seems obsessed with nakedness as every character in the movie strips at the slightest pretense. Any excuse will do to strip and walk or swim or sleep naked all over the place.

The people also behave in an oddly unreasonable way in everything they do. Why did Miu’s hair turn white suddenly in “one night”? Don’t ask: It is supposed to be a highlight of the story but after reading it, it makes no sense. Why did Sumire suddenly disappear in a foreign locale without explanation? Don’t ask – you will not understand at all even if I were able to tell you.

The story is completely pointless in other ways too – Sumire’s father seems to be developing into an important character, only to be dropped like yesterday’s garbage in the middle of the story; there seems to be something important happening in the life of one of the narrator’s temporary girlfriends, just to peter out; Sumire seems to come back, but….

If any of you still want to read the story, I will not spoil it for you. (Even if I tried, can I?)

Let us say, a 2/10

— Krishna

July 11, 2012

Book: Beyond The Last Blue Mountain by R M Lala

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:46 am

This book is the biography of JRD Tata, who is the captain of industry in India. No doubt he was a farsighted man, developing the company he inherited into a top firm in India. He also managed his companies adroitly in the midst of post Independence India, where the government was committed to socialism, autarky and throttling of independent
industry. The companies he started with great risk and perseverance were, upon becoming successful, were taken over by Indian Government  with almost casual disdain, and with little recompense, despite his strong links to the top echelons of political hierarchy: Jawaharlal Nehru, the first and arguably the most revered Prime Minister of India was a personal friend. So was his daughter, Indira Gandhi, who straddled the political scene of India like a Colossus many years later.

He was also far ahead of his times in running the company: when feudal loyalty was expected of employees and bosses ran their companies like personal fiefdoms, he was farsighted enough to set up the companies in a professional manner, with professional managers and gave them full freedom.

Which is why, this book is such a disappointment. Written by their ‘Poet Laureate’ or ‘House Author’ RM Lala, it is a wide eyed, one sided, fully complimentary narration of the story. Rather like the Press in authoritarian countries where all manner of dissent is not tolerated, any whiff of unsavoury or even unpleasant aspects of the story are carefully edited out, and the story is whitewashed to look like a never changing happy story. In order to “prove” that the book is an unbiased account, they make great virtue of admitting that JRD Tata was in favour of the despicable emergency period in India where democracy was briefly suspended by Indira Gandhi.

If you have the IQ of a six year old child, you will find this book interesting. It even reads in part like the ‘Run Jane Run; See Jane Run’ style.

Tantalizing tidbits of controversy can be sensed behind this whitewashed saccarine sweet story. For instance, Suzanne or ‘Sooni’ as the Tatas renamed her, JRD Tata’s mother, is an interesting character. Did she hate moving to India? Did she force RD Tata, after a few years of marriage, to move back to Paris, where she could be comfortable? Was there a huge rift between the two which was varnished out of the story? Did Tata regret marrying Thelly Tata?

Was his brother, Darab Tara, the Black Sheep of the family?

As humble as he seems, his megalomaniacal tendencies come to the fore sometimes when he feels snubbed; no word of it ever makes into the story.

This book could have been so much more. Being a hagiography instead of a candid biography, it ends up being a bore, and therefore a waste of time.

I think that for the few tidbits it contains, it deserves a 1/10

— Krishna

July 10, 2012

Book: The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:04 am

This is the second book of Jane Urquhart reviewed in this blog.  I did not much like the earlier book reviewed here, Changing Heaven.

This, in my view, is a far better book.  It has an interesting story.  The tale is narrated by an old painter, Austin Fraser, whose memories of the past are triggered by the death of Sara Pengelly, who leaves all she owns to him upon his death. The place he inherits is on the shores of Lake Superior, a place he has not visited in about five years, when he broke off a fifteen year old relationship with her and walked away.

He remembers his childhood, his father’s interest in making money and his success in becoming rich. His father wanted Austin to follow in his footsteps and was bitterly disappointed when Austin chose to study art and become a painter.  Austin lived in New York and was taught by Robert Henri, who taught him that art is not in the object being painted itself but in the perception of the artist of the art being painted.

He starts out as a landscape painter, and befriends Rockwell Kent, who becomes a famous painter.

When he follows his dad to Davenport in Canada, he meets George Kearns, a shy, retiring boy who becomes close to him due to a shared interest in art and painting. George looks after a china shop belonging to his dad and paints designs on the china cups and other utensils, in addition to importing stuff from other countries to sell in Davenport on the shores of Lake Superior. He falls in love with Vivian and is devastated when she leaves town.

He then goes to Port Arthur, again following his father’s mining interests, and there meets Sara, a young, blond woman, who becomes a subject for his painting and his mistress. The way he mistreats this woman, who invited him into her life, home and unreservedly shared everything is heartbreaking to read. He is with her every summer and leaves in winter, and is furious and immensely insulting when she decides to visit him in New York one year. He humiliates her into going back to Canada and then visits her the next summer as though nothing has happened. And is furious that she has not told him everything about herself – the fact that a fox visits her in winter, for instance.

Many years later, as a famous painter, and a lone man, he meets George Kern’s love, Augusta Moffat, a young Canadian nurse who met George in the hospital when he returned wounded from the Second World War. She is shell shocked when her hospital is bombed one day and kills her best friend. She is admitted into a mental asylum back in Davenport when George meets her, mends her, and then they become lovers.

When Vivian returns as a famous actor many years later, Austin, the narrator, takes her to visit George, on her insistence, without realizing the tragedy that would unleash in George and Augusta’s lives. He cannot recover from the sinister results of that action, and is a broken man.

The reason the book is called Underpainter is that Austin develops his own style of painting during his path to fame. He paints a scenery and covers it up deliberately, leaving traces of these showing through, discernable only to a keen eye, and paints `the real‘ painting over these. These underpainting portions are discovered and are critically acclaimed by admirers, later.

The book is interesting. The coldness of the narration makes the skin crawl with revulsion in places.

Not one of those racy, can’t-put-it-down kind of books: the story develops slowly and reaches its denouement in its own pace. However, the narration is excellent, the English is classy and the read leaves one brooding about the rich characters after you have finally put down the book.

I would say it deserves a 7/10

— Krishna

July 9, 2012

Book: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:47 am

This made Michael Chabon famous and won a Pulitzer Prize to boot. I have already commented on how not every book that wins a Nobel or a Pulitzer is an interesting book – Booker Prize seems to be an exception.

However, this is an interesting book and the story is big, vast, and unusual. The cover put me off, because it looked like a 1960 two-penny novel. But luckily, I decided to read on anyway and was rewarded.  (The cover is that way due to the comic book era being described in a part of this book, I think)

It follows the life of Joe Kavalier, who is in Austria under the Nazi threat. His father, an escape artist, dies an accidental death. Joe himself is a disciple of the great Kornblum, who is an admirer of the Houdini. Joe learns escaping from boxes of increasing complexity and learns many other magic tricks too. But as a young boy, he plans his escape in the same box as a Golem, which is being rescued and smuggled out of Austria before the Nazis can destroy it. (Golem is a mythical Jewish statue that has amazing powers). His trip tragically fails and rather than return home in shame, he stays with his teacher and attempts another- this time successful – escape.
When he reaches New York, he stays with his cousin Sam Clay (Clayman), and the rest of the book follows their life story. The book reads like several books stitched together, with the stories of Joe’s childhood under Nazi suppression, his teaming up with Sam to launch a new comic book series with a superhero called Escapist, who battles evil villains, mostly of Nazi affiliations. In this part of the story is Joe’s unforgettable hatred towards Nazi philosophy which makes him go and vandalize a Neo Nazi building, causing a retaliatory bomb threat in Joe’s offices.

Also entering the picture is Rosa Banks, his love, and the sudden disappearance of Joe (due to the death of his brother while trying to escape Nazi Germany in a boat) without realizing that Rosa is pregnant by this time, the discovery of Sam that he is gay and is attracted to a matinee idol (The name escapes me at the moment).

The story after Joe leaves, his joining the air force and his solitary posting in the Arctic reads like an entirely different novel.

The last part of the novel concerns Joe’s return to New York to find and recognize his son and witness the quiet lives of Rosa and Sam. He decides not to intrude and leads a disguised existence in the same city but he cannot resist speaking to Tommy, his son, which leads to more exposure than he wanted.

The story is well written, the prose flows neatly and keeps the interest. The interesting immersion into many worlds works well – you learn about Houdini and his afficianados, you are immersed in the 1940s and 50s comic book scenes in what must be termed the Golden Age of Comic Books and also their subsequent decline and attempts at revival by many comic book houses.

You enter the Jewish society in New York and learn of their lifestyles – not deeply, though.

A well written book – does not set your pulse racing or keep you on the edge of your seat, but you get a sense of satisfaction of having read a good book.

The ending was a bit too abrupt for me – understandable, but abrupt
all the same.

I would give it a 7/10

— Krishna

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