Tuesday, July 17, 2007


After a long hiatus from books, I have been back to reading quite regularly of late and thought it would be worth recommending two particularly brilliant books:

Mother Night - Kurt Vonnegut (1961)

In the preface of this book, Vonnegut says that this is one of the few of his works with morals. One being "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be" and the other is "Make love when you can. It's good for you".

It's the story of Howard W. Campbell Jr., an American working as a playwright in Nazi Germany where he plays an apparently big role in spreading the Aryan Propaganda on radio but is secretly an American spy. His public image forces him to say things he never really wanted to and is worshiped as a Nazi Hero, which he despises. But in the process of his real time performance he gets really cynical about the whole world. Particularly after losing his wife Helga with whom he describes his existence as "Nation of Two".

Mother Night is tragic and funny at the same time in trademark Vonnegut style.

"If you really want to hurt your parents and you don't have nerve enough to be homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts."
Was short enough to be read during my to and fro flight duration from Bangalore to Delhi.
A must read.

PS: Later discovered that there is also a movie based on the book.

Lord of the Flies - William Golding (1954)

A haunting book that delves deep into the primitive human psyche that could never come out of social confines. It is an Allegory about the element of savageness that we all have which is depicted in the book in the form of a group of boys who survive a plane crash on a remote island. Their joy, fear and innocence slowly warps into a basal animal instinct that makes murderers out of regular school kids as they fight for their own survival. Scary as hell and deeply moving.

In a scene describing the boys hunting down a pig, the author puts down the theme of the book thus:
His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink.
This is the book that got William Golding his Nobel and he deserves no less for such a masterpiece.


Amit said...

Haven't read the first one..

But Lord of the Flies.. Its such a great book that it leaves you thinking for several hours once you are done reading! truly a masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

это очень хорошие книги, которые Вы рекомендовали. я постараюсь читать их иногда

Anonymous said...

que livros grandes certamente:)

Safari Al said...

Stal...how did you make your blog so popular???