Book Review : The Story of a New Name – Elena Ferrante

The Story of a New NameThe Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I generally tend to devour books, but this one devoured me. Elena Ferrante’s writing captivates, engrosses, absorbs, consumes, devastates and satisfies. Not a single free minute has been spent on anything but reading this second volume in her Neapolitan Series these past 4 days.

While it was easier to take sides in the first book, in this one, I constantly aligned and realigned myself first with Lenu and then with Lila, reaching a point where both exasperated me and I wanted nothing to do with either. But just like Lenu is bound and drawn to Lila, I was so embroiled in their lives and it was impossible to abandon reading until I was finished.

Lila’s actions repeatedly evoke the ‘she brought this upon herself’ feeling – with little or no sympathy (yet). For Lenu, I feel like I want to shake her up, snap her out of her constant need to compare herself to her childhood friend, and always find a way to undermine her own achievements even when she’s done much better than her. At this point, it is difficult not to care, not to be involved.

I’ve put it much to simply to be fair to the expansive layers that come through from all that takes place in this young adult, extremely turbulent period of their lives, where they ought to have had a more sorted existence, and yet managed to create a tangle of complications in trying to create that ideal life that has been their sole aspiration since childhood.

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The Descendants – Watch and Smile

(spoiler warning! i have divulged some details, though this is not a suspense so it wont really spoil your fun :))


I walked out of the hall smiling and content. Wonderful way to wrap up the weekend. The Descendants is such a “human” movie. Watched it with my Dad and we both totally enjoyed it. I can’t / wont call this a movie review – but here is what made me like it so much.

The location – Hawaii. The breezy, overcast, deep greens and crystal blues – gave the movie a refreshing and calming feel.  I especially liked how Matt (G.Clooney) introduces us to his story – about how it irritated him that people always considered him so lucky to be  living in Hawaii and how his life must be like being on a permanent  holiday – but in reality how f***** up it actually was – and so Hawaii is as real as any place.

I’ve noticed that the narrative is a typical introduction to a lot of Hollywood movies, but this one is really well written in and I enjoyed it so much.

George Clooney takes the cake for sure. I haven’t seen him play such a vulnerable role in any of his past films where usually he is the smart, witty, on top of his game kinda guy. In The Descendants he plays a workaholic who suddenly finds himself as a single father to his two daughters, a ten year old and a 17 year old rebellious teenager – both of which are testing him in every way possible. Adding to that a comatose, dying wife who he discovers was cheating on him and a big land sale deal of ancestral property that his extended family is pressing him to sell, and you can understand what he means when he says he is barely keeping his head above water. He plays the role so heart-warmingly well and one just wants to give him a hug and tell him to hang in there.

The two girls playing his daughters are also very good, especially the 10 year old Scotty. The character Sid does very well in playing a helplessly stupid jock. He looks like he is misplaced and unnecessary but he carries his part very well adding the subtle funnies.

Its amazing how the director, Alexander Payne has managed to make all his actors underplay and yet keep the feel of the film so wonderfully natural and so real. There is humour in unlikely instances in the film and appropriately so 🙂 lightens the mood without trivializing the moment. So even though there is tragedy in the film which is central to the story, it doesn’t bog you down and become a tear jerker – coz sometimes you just dont feel like crying your eyes out and yet want to associate with what the characters feel.

The music / background score is brilliant. Soothing and calming are two words that come to me – the kind of stuff you want to play in the room while you do other things 🙂

Finally, without making this any more longer than it should be – to me the story was about accepting, dealing, forgiving and  moving on.  But also that its easier said than done. Congratulations to George Clooney and Alexander Payne – well deserved on all the praise, awards and accolades they have received and will receive 🙂

Extra enjoyment points for the 5 movie trailers they screened during the intermission and before the movie began, always makes the movie experience doubly enriching. The Titans and Ghostrider 2 with over the top special effects – impressive, though not sure if the 2 minute trailer will have the same effect in a 2 hour movie. Lets see if i ever get to those in a theatre 🙂

Do rate the post, helps me know if  I should write the next one 😉

The Other Side of things!

Understanding the other person’s point of view.

I sometimes hate doing that. I hate that I have to listen to reasoning that I don’t agree with and then end up understanding why that reasoning was being given in the first place. It makes my point of view weaker and my arguments against that reasoning seem futile. That other point of view actually starts making sense and then the purpose of my argument is empty.

More like, “I should have seen this coming”.

And, I disagree with what you say, but I also why it makes sense for you!

It’s not that you can’t stick to your side of the argument. You can. But if the other side of things start making some sense too (even though you beg to disagree), then sticking to your point adamantly just for the heck of it also doesn’t help.

Other times, it’s not so much the reasoning but the “person” you are getting reasons from –  that make your position as the opposer weaker. Or you end up feeling that, why am I fighting this one person – when all they are doing is trying to protect me. I may not agree with their beliefs but I do understand their concern and so maybe I’ll let my argument rest, so that their minds can rest.

But the trouble is, that once you get stuck in the rut of things like this, you end up not doing a lot of things, changing a lot of decisions very contrary to what you actually wanted to do, and just looking back at times gone by…..when u could have “been there, done that” but end up “never being there, never having done that”.


Well i almost got sucked in and sunk, but, i guess all the kickin n strugglin helped.

Brain wave when cutting vegetables…… = Therapy.

Therapy = abandoning veggies + rushing to crossword bookstore + pickin up a VCD copy of “the hangover” + 2 books by sudha murthy (gently falls the bakula, the old man and his god) + a book called “i too had a love story” by Ravinder Singh (picked it up only out of curiosity and becoz it was the cheapest thing there – 100 bucks) + dollops of cheese in my veggies (so much for health conciousness)

Damage: Rs. 700 (esp when i’m unemployed) + calories i dont even wanna think about.

Result: lightness………momentarily – but nevertheless – its here for now 🙂

Lesson: Impulsiveness makes a lotta sense sometimes 🙂

Feels like Sinking…..

Yeah, it feels like i’m sinking…..and it doesn’t matter that i know how to swim.

These seem to be such testing times. Its never over is it. There’s never that day when u feel so light that u could float. There’s never a point when the realisation of contentment sets in and finally “peace” envelopes you.
At least its not happenin to me. There are those days when i force myself to fool me and look at the brighter side of everything. Its my “positive attitude” stupidity i suppose.

The first thing is that cloudy feeling. Fuzzy, unclear and thick. Makes me feel like i’m throat deep in water and struggling to keep afloat. But the water is so close to my mouth that the pressure makes it so hard breathe. The heaviness on my chest almost pushes me under. But i’m struggling….and my legs dont hold much promise of lasting very long.

But isn’t it the same for everybody. Its always a struggle. That is wht its about. The “journey”.
Makes me so cynical sometimes. And i dont identify myself with this trait at all coz i consider myself a “believer”. Baah!! So much for being a believer.

I cant remember the last time i felt “cotton candy” light.
Sometimes, i read about people who have a hard time but have come out as survivors. I feel it might give me some hope that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. But I think I refuse to be inspired. I’d rather just get lost in the dark tunnel and become that burrowing creature who’s ok surviving on the muck that it can get its hands on.

Then again i feel like i deserve better and the issue is that i’m thinking about everything/everyone else except me. Maybe i need to be “selfish”. Maybe thats the key. But really, having tried it out on occasions – it just made the chasm deeper n darker. Urgh!!!

In the end, i am at a loss of finding that crevice of escape. Its like quicksand – the more i struggle – the deeper i sink.

Maybe i just need to suck it up. Well at least the effort is on. Maybe thats why the frustration is on too.
Or maybe an empty mind is a devil’s workshop and i need employment!!

Confusion vs Conviction….back to Confusion and then maybe Action

Its such a self defining phrase……..coz jahan Confusion hai wahan Conviction nahin hoti and jahan Conviction hai wahan Confusion ka sawaal hi nahin hota!!!

But well my state of mind doesn’t seem to quit shuttling between these two…….more often than not its in the Confusion phase………the longest most predominant phase!!!

Conviction on the other hand is ephemeral!!! Coming and vanishing in bursts!!!! A by-product of this: Frustration!!!

Yet another level is Conviction vs Action. One thing that eternally evades me.

But I am what I am…….no matter what I try to be, it still comes back a full circle.

Is that what we call the character of an individual?? Is that what defines who I am and what I deserve?? Is that what defines me as the bad person, one who isn’t making the most of everything……wasting opportunities…..??

There are so many things one does in life that define who you are. From the smallest to the largest – everything involves making the “right / appropriate choice”. And not just that, seeing it through is the actual litmus test.

There are so many questions that pop in my head everyday about so many issues. And I am seeking answers to so many of them …..but the thing is, that nobody can really answer them for me. Some people might make me feel better (or worse) with their own analogies, but the final reasoning still has to come from within. And unless that happens, well I just keep bumping around in the bubble of Confusion.

Anyway, taking this a step backwards. Where does confusion stem from? Why is it that I am so utterly confused about so many things?

One, it could be due to indecision – too many options staring you in the face. Two, it could be due to lack of information. Three, it could be because one cant decide what is “wrong” and what is “right”.

The third option is generally where I get stuck. Because who is to decide what IS really wrong and what is right. Some things are very easy and obvious to categorize but then there are the grey areas where your integrity, morality, credibility and responsibility are tested. These are the ones that truly test your character. But then again, why is it so that they are considered to test your character…..Who decided that?

Isnt it a  matter of individual choice?? Isnt it about how an individual feels about the situation rather than the community at large (who apparently have a copyright on the “appropriate behaviour” expected in response to such situations). The funny thing though is that, sometimes your decisions dont affect anyone but yourself, but if ti comes to the knowledge of others, its put under such a stringent scanner of judgement that in the end it just becomes an example of what one shouldnt be.

The point I seem to be coming to is that at the end of the day, each one of us goes ahead with whatever actions and choices we consider suitable to us in that moment. The type of actions / reactions to various situations can be discussed at length and each individual will have a different approach and understanding of the same. But those vital few minutes of getting past the confusion making a decision (because the situation demands so, even if you are in two minds) and acting on it are the ones that define “how much are you going to question yourself about it in the future”. At the end of the day, if you still question yourself about your own actions…….then somewhere you’re aware that its wasn’t an all correct. But then its too late and so begins another frustrating cycle of dilemmas and regrets……..

he he he….I just realised how completely opposite this is to my last post. How jubilant I was then, everything seemed great – crystal clear. And then some stupid complication just throws you off track……makes you lose focus. And with people like me, literally, focus takes a serious hit…….I cave in, and I completely lack the will to pull myself out……!!

I just linger………