Week #2: Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”

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I had a little craving for nostalgia, for the times I would sit in the corner of a library and read all the books in the world, because I had all the time in the world. I used to love Christie, and “And then there were None” is one of my favourite murder-mystery novels.

However, “Murder on the Orient Express” was disappointing, even though I was assured by librarian it was one of her best selling books. Maybe I’ve outgrown it, but the characters, the story and the ending (especially the ending), were bland and unimaginative.

This book is like a minimum wage job- making you work hard with little intellectual effort, with a disappointing reward. There are at least 10 different characters in this book that are so thoroughly analysed, with a chapter for each of them. You give yourself to these characters, invest time to get to know them, understand them. It’s almost like a relationship. The names are difficult to pronounce, with Princess Natalia Dragomiroff taking the prize. The characters are clearly defined by their race and ethnicity with “Caucasian” coolness and Italian hot temperedness. But it almost seems worth it; After all, it’s an Agatha Christie novel.

Hercule Poirot, a smug, conceited (and racist) detective who’s been featured in a collection of his own novels by Chrsite, is the man who saves the day; in literally a day. He solves the mystery of the murder of an American businessman, Mr.Ratchett (who’s real name is Casetti- Why Agatha, why?). Due to the snowstorm that befalls the train, the murderer could not have left the train. And so, Poirot sets to find the murderer within the train.

It’s difficult to let one understand the emotions I’m going through right now, in this review, because the real disappointment of the book is the ending, I don’t want to be That Spoiler Blogger.

I guess all I can do is allow you to read the book and feel the defeat for yourself.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/62276182@N00/2821350338″>Murder on the Orient Express</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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#Week 1: Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”

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I just got through “The Fountainhead” and it took me a little more than a week- therefore, the delay in this post.

“The Fountainhead” is about a man I’ve characterised in my head to look like Robert Downey Jr., named Howard Roark. He’s a man who loves what he does and does not see any truth in the world society dictates. He’s a modern architect in a time when Victorian and other decorative art forms were appreciated and respected. But he doesn’t care. He will design the way he loves designing, with the reward only being the building itself and not what reviews society gives him.

He’s juxtaposed with a rather weak minded man, Peter Keating. Peter Keating is the topper in his class, knows all about architecture, lands a great job and becomes “successful”. The reason he’s weak is because he is dictated by society in every step of his life. In fact, it’s weird, but, even though the entire book scorns Keating, most of us would identify ourselves with him. We would work hard to get good grades, get to college, get some work experience and finally- be rich. And many times, we wouldn’t love doing what we do. In the end, he sits down to paint and do something he really loved doing, but just isn’t good at it anymore and doesn’t have the time to be good at it. He’s invested too much of his energy in something society thought he was good at.

Before I read it, I read a little about the philosophy that Ayn Rand developed, which has been celebrated by many academia. It’s called “Objectivism”. I wasn’t entirely convinced and neither did I understand the concept in the beginning, but I’d like to think that I have a cursory understanding (at least) of it now.

Rand repetitively says, through the words of Roark, that the only social system that is moral is one that celebrates individualism and “selfishness”. Although, she says, most societies preach selflessness, being selfish is only another way of saying being persistent in the pursuit of happiness. And that is the only way one can be happy.

Although this sounds deep, and it is- it appealed to me in a different way. I felt like the entire book was written based on truth. After reading the book, I grudgingly thanked Ayn Rand for harshly making me realise- Society is a scam.

The story is interesting, following Roark’s determined journey to defy this immoral society, made “hotter” by the character of Dominique Francon (who is played in my head by Saffron Burrows) who’s Roark’s controversial lover. Both Francon and Roark are strong characters, but are also idealistic. They want a world that is unrealistic and implausible, just like Rand.

Anyhow, the book is a great read and is really fast paced except towards the end. The characters are not complex enough, I felt, as they all had either a “objectivist” outlook or not. But then, Rand had written the book to convey the philosophy, and the characters served their purpose.

Overall- Please read to feel inspired about life and pathetic about the pattern of life that society has left for you to follow.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/5425907494/”>DonkeyHotey</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

The Godfather

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I loved it. That’s an understatement. I absolutely crazy loved it. And I’m talking about the book. Don Corleone is now officially the person I want to be in my life. I don’t mean a “Don”, but I love his charismatic, calm personality. I want his strategic thinking, his coolness of nature, his parenting skills- everything. A week after I read the book, I emulated him quite perfectly. I would sit around my house, telling my dog (in an Italian accent ) how to sit and how not to get me mad, because I have contacts. I even made a plan: Step by step guide to being more awesome. You might call me crazy, but I loved the way Mario Puzo described Corleone’s character. He is the boss of the underworld, for the illiterates, in America. He controls the police, the judges and the entire world through a simple technique- persuasion. You have no other choice than to be persuaded. No, really. There’s also guns, drama and crazy characters. Sonny Corleone is his hot son. Although I find his sibling, Michael Corleone hotter. Sonny has a wild temper, and kills everybody. Michael is calm, like his father. Although there are some character deficiencies, where he cheats on his girlfriend claims to love a girl he randomly sees, he proves his worth by killing bad people and becoming the new boss. Everyone (myself included) agrees that Michael is in no way as powerful and great as his father, but something about him assures you that the Corleone legacy is not going down. The story basically reveals the histrionics behind the scenes of a mafia war. The “Families” would fight against other families, through various methods- killing random people, bribing and other stuff. The Tattaglia family is their main rival, who tries to bring them down throughout the whole story. That was my desperate attempt to get people to read the book, and not just watch the movie. Although the movie illustrates a lot of it beautifully, imagining everything is somehow always better than watching actors determine your judgement. Sonny is not hot in the movie, by the way. I think I would marry Don Corleone.