Prem Rao

Stories from a Story Teller

“Return To India” A Memoir by Shoba Narayan

I have always loved reading memoirs and was delighted to come across, ” Return to India” by Shoba Narayan. Here she writes of the angst caused in most Indian-Americans caught in a within the mind crossfire between the country where they were born and bred as children and their adopted country which has given them more than abundant monetary and other worldly conveniences they would not have got in the Old Country.

Shoba was highly focused on her goal as a teenager growing up in Madras ( as Chennai was called in those days) and her goal was to go to the United States away from the protective, cloying environment provided by family and friends. She imagined being free of all constraints and living a life of her own where she could start afresh and do whatever she pleased in a land of endless opportunity. Read more…

The Captainship: First Gen Entrepreneurs

Anya Gupta, author and alumnus of MIT Sloan, has edited this book, appropriately titled, “The Captainship: First Gen Entrepreneurs” published by Bloomsbury.  The title is inspired by the famous line from “Invictus” the poem by William Ernest Henley which goes, ” I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” The structure of this book is unique in that nine first generation entrepreneurs speak in the first person narrative to tell their own stories. They speak of their childhood experiences which  helped fashion their thinking, the lessons they learnt from family and others, and how they invariably had to overcome adversity to achieve the goal they set for themselves.

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“Dead Like You” by Peter James

Finished with all 643 pages of “Dead Like You” by the British crime fiction writer, Peter James. This is the first book I read by this author, who has written a series of books featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. I was intrigued by the book’s title as I like titles to be short and crisp. To start with, some names of the characters in a book appeal to some readers while some don’t.  I for one didn’t much like the name “Grace” as I associate it with the lady’s first name though I do know that the Father of Cricket, Dr W G himself, had graced the name “Grace.” Read more…

“Lucknow Boy” by Vinod Mehta

I have seen Vinod Mehta often on television programs where he holds forth on a variety of issues. I have known him to be a strong supporter of the Congress Party and a self- proclaimed “pseudo-secularist.” It was with considerable interest therefore that I read his memoirs titled, “Lucknow Boy” published by Penguin India. The book gets its name from the fact that Mehta grew up in Lucknow and stayed in touch with the city of his childhood and youth. Read more…

“The Ladykiller” by Martina Cole

This was the first book I read by Martina Cole, a British author of crime fiction. That I intend reading more of her work indicates my recommendation for this novel which is set in a small town in England.

In “The Ladykiller”, Detective Inspector Kate Burrows finds herself in the middle of a storm as a spate of murders takes place in her jurisdiction. There are a few common features about these murders. Without exception, all the victims are women. Without exception, the bodies are terribly mutilated. The signs point to a sick mind and a pervert roaming free in this hitherto peaceful town. Burrows has come up the hard way in the Police force and is now seen to be a successful officer. However, some men who are her subordinates still do not accept her leadership not able to stomach her rise in the police force only because she is a woman.  To add to the stress caused by this case Burrows,who has been separated since long, is attracted towards Patrick Kelly, a man well known in the underworld.

Despite all that he does in the underworld, Kelly cares more for his daughter than anything else in the world. When she is found murdered, Kelly starts his own investigation to nab the murderer. He wants the murderer to suffer as much as his daughter did. He is frequently in touch with DI Burrows ( who is dealing with his daughter’s case) and finds himself falling in love with her. They both have the same goal, to catch the murderer but have opposite opinions on what to do after the man has been caught.

George Markham has had an extremely unhappy childhood but is today as nondescript as anyone else in town. He lives in a world of fantasy for most of the time.  This story traces events which made Markham the man he became. A simple accountant in a firm during the day and a hungry predator capable of the worst violence at night.

The book is gripping  in most part but I did feel it was too long at 625 pages. There was also some element of repetition. Several of the characters are mentioned to have had the grace to look away when accosted by the truth. This mannerism  appears several times in the book  in several characters, which I found rather strange.

All in all, a good read. I shall look out for more books from Martina Cole. I find she has written a dozen thrillers so there are many more to be read.

 

“Lucifer’s Lungi” by Nitin Sawant

When Nethra, a friend, asked me to review “Lucifer’s Lungi”  I must confess that I was at first both shocked and intrigued by the title. In my mind I associated Lucifer with the morning star and falling from heaven but the connection with the lungi, ( a wrap around kind of garment worn by men in some parts of South India) flummoxed me.  With the “Lungi Dance” tune from Shahrukh Khan’s blockbuster film, “Chennai Express” reverberating in my mind, I took up this 111 page novella by Nitin Sawant, published by Fablery.

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From the Twitter World

It’s amazing how much one can learn from Twitter. I often use the hashtag #writing and come across many interesting features, articles and links that open up so much that is new to me. Today, I was interested to see a blog post by writer Kelsye Nelson,  “In Six Words or Fewer..” Here , we are asked to write a story on “Regret” using six or fewer words, Some of the responses were quite thought provoking. My contribution was just one word, “Sorry!” It’s difficult at times to express regret. Having to say a sincere “Sorry” often doesn’t come as easily as you think it should!

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Inspiration For Writers

Apart from the much talked of “Writers’ Block”, there are many events that can send your writing schedule for a toss. You could face important tasks that you have put off, busy as you were with your writing. You could also lose some of the zeal for writing, if you were to get a rejection just when you were starting off on a new chapter in your work in progress. Believe me, at the end of the day, writing is all about how you feel at that point in time. Read more…

Trivia About P G Wodehouse

Without any shade of doubt, for me, Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was the best writer in the English language.  Evelyn Waugh called him, “The Master” and we, his fans from all over the world, rejoice in his writings nearly 40 years after he, to use a phrase he was fond of, “handed in his dinner pail.” Read more…

My Favourite Quotes on Writing

Let me do something new today. I’ll share a few of my favourite quotes on writing and shall try and explain why they mean so much to me. The objective is not to explain the quote itself, because you can understand them as well as I can, it is to share why it resonates with me. Read more…

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