Posted: 16 Apr 2017 09:49 PM PDT
last post for a bunch of reviews of short reads that were a joy to read as I played catch up on reading challenges (one among the many I signed up for this year).
For N as I continue my #UBC and #AtoZChallenges, continuing with my theme of my journey through childhood once again with my kids, I picked 'Nataraj Pencils'. For those who don't know, this is a popular brand of pencils in India (even today) manufactured by Hindustan Pencils. Every trip to India involves at least one visit to a couple of stationary stores in our local markets, and it is heartening to see that those stores have withstood the test of time. The visit to the stationary store ends up with a bag containing a couple of drawing books, erasers, paints, and pencils (loads of them - regular graphite pencils, and color pencils - and almost always Nataraj!). These pencils always make their way back to the US with us on our return. The familiar red and black stripes always bring up memories of cool school days for me.
Nostalgia apart, these pencils are really great - they sharpen well, the points do not break easily or often, and they write smooth and dark. So yes, they definitely are part of my childhood which continue on through my kids' using them regularly too! They love these pencils :)
And looking for more about them, I discovered a really cool review of these pencils here.
Some nostalgia captured via old print and TV ads for the pencils here
Q to the reader: A favorite writing implement,,, umm, I mean a favorite pencil you wrote/write with?
Signing off on Day 17 and the letter N as I continue on the #AtoZChallenge and #UltimateBloggingChallenge
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Posted: 16 Apr 2017 08:59 PM PDT
Today's post is longer than most while I play catchup with my reading challenges, starting with my Short Story Challenge - Deal Me In 2017. While I have not yet successfully caught up, I did do a bit of reading and here are my reviews for the ones I finished. My list of stories for this challenge are in the google docs here or in my first review post here.
Short Story Reading Challenge - Deal Me in 2017 - Here is my catching up: Completed reading most of the stories below except for 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' for Week 8. All reviews and interesting links are in the post below.
Week 5: 'Among the Paths to Eden' by Truman Capote (My 2 of Clubs per Random.org's card shuffler)
Week 6 - Jack of Spades - 'The Nightingale and the Rose' by Oscar Wilde
Week 7 - 4 of Spades - 'Eveline' by James Joyce
Week 8 - 8 of Spades - 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' by Ernest Hemingway
Week 9 - 5 of Diamonds - "The Yarn of the Nancy Bell" by S W Gilbert from 'The Children's Treasyry of Classic Poetry"
Weeks 10 - 14 - catch up later
Week 15 - this past week - Ace of Spades - . 'A Haunted House' by Virginia Woolf
Coming up next - along with the pending catchup for weeks 10-14, week 16 will be a short story by Tagore - my 5 of Hearts.
Week 5: 'Among the Paths to Eden' by Truman Capote (My 2 of Clubs per Random.org's card shuffler) -
Oh! Why have I not read Capote before? That was my first thought as I read the story and definitely when I reached the end. For me, this story was reminiscent of the humor and twists in Saki's stories who is among my favorite short story writers.
This story starts off Mr.Belli walking to his wife's grave (not in any remembrance, but just for exercise), and he encounters, he first believes, another person who has come to the cemetery to pay respects to her recently lost father. While they converse, he has insights into his own life, with and without his wife which he had not realized before. And his first belief about the woman he encounters takes a surprising twist towards the end of the story.
And I discovered this gem of a video below while looking up the story - oh so wonderful - Truman Capote's reading of the story recorded in 1963 - a must listen (just like the story itself is a must read). Another video, also linked below, is of the movie adaptation of this story, starring Maureen Stapleton and Martin Balsam
Rating: A+ for the story and the reading
Note: I read this story from my copy of Reader's Digest 'Great Short Stories of the World'
Week 6 - Jack of Spades - 'The Nightingale and the Rose' by Oscar Wilde - Oscar Wilde is definitely one of my favorite writers of short stories and this story is one of my favorite short stories ever read. It never fails to leaves me with tears in my eyes no matter how many times I read it even though I now know it almost by heart. Oscar Wilde is a master of story-telling and this short story about love, selfishness, selflessness, sacrifice shows his mastery so well. The nightingale (the star of this story) sacrifices herself believing true love is worth her life; and the irony of it was that her sacrifice was for naught. The twin images of a dead nightingale with a thorn on her breast and a crushed red rose by the gutter haunt me a while every time I read this. You can read it online here among other online locations.
Week 7 - 'Eveline' by James Joyce - my 4 of Spades - Inertia, indecision, difficult choices (a familiar unforgiving past or an uncertain future) - all of these words came to my mind when I read Eveline. The story opens with Eveline seated at the window thinking about leaving home, to a new life, freedom; and ends with Eveline rooted to the spot, unable to make her move to a new life. This is a sad commentary on what many face, and the inability to move forward, to just jump into unfamiliar waters, and of opportunities lost because of the fear of the unknown. You can read it here.
Week 8 - 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' by Ernest Hemingway - 8 of Spades - YTR
Week 9 -"The Yarn of the Nancy Bell" by S W Gilbert from 'The Children's Treasury of Classic Poetry" - My 5 of Diamonds - This is a comic classic and totally a smile-bringer of a poem, though a little gory ('cannibalistic' is what Punch used to describe this poem when they rejected it). If the more recent 'The Life of Pi' were a comic poem, with slightly different characters, this is what I would imagine it would be - though of course Gilbert wrote his poem ages before the novel.
Note: I read the poem in my copy of 'The Children's Treasury of Classic Poetry' - a beautifully illustrated selection of wonderful poems though you could read it here.
Rating for the poem and the book: A
Weeks 10 - 14 - catch up later
Week 15 - this past week - Ace of Spades - 'A Haunted House' by Virginia Woolf- I read the title story in this collection online here. This is a really short story and it took me a few readings to kind of understand what the story was really telling the reader. I then had to cheat, kind of, and look at notes about the book online but was glad that I did understand the story correctly or as perceived in that summary of the story! Two couples – one living, and one ghostly – connected by two things – the house, and by the love in their hearts. I truly loved all that was left unsaid (but yet totally understood by the reader) in those broken conversations Woolf mentions in the paragraph below
"Here we slept," she says. And he adds, "Kisses without number." "Waking in the morning—" "Silver between the trees—" "Upstairs—" "In the garden—" "When summer came—" "In winter snowtime—" The doors go shutting far in the distance, gently knocking like the pulse of a heart.
Woolf is definitely an acquired taste and I am beginning to enjoy her - this was my first foray into the literary genius that is her! and I am glad.
Signing off on Day 16 as I continue on the #UltimateBloggingChallenge
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