Archive for February, 2008

Kinky Friedman, the prodigal poet of country music has written a tale of murder, mayhem. The central character is Kinky Friedman, also the narrator, and a very close friend of legendary actor and movie-maker Tom Baker, who died. A documentary that Baker had made on Elvis impersonators disappeared, while the only person who had actually seen the film, Legs, had been brutally murdered. Kinky has been asked to find the missing documentary. In the course of the search, Kinky explored his own deep, dark past, namely his simultaneous affairs with two women named Judy – Uptown Judy and Downtown Judy. Prompting this review of ancient history was the sudden reappearance of Downtown Judy ready to resume their relationship, and the sudden and mysterious disappearance of Uptown Judy. That these two plots would come together, and that the Elvis film would be found, was expected. Nothing else in this novel, however, dealt with anything remotely expected. With the help of his friends (the Village Irregulars Rambam, Ratso and McGovern), all becomes clear in the end. The Downtown Judy turns out to be just a creation of Uptown Judy to get away and start a new life. But here what matters more than the plot is Kinky himself–mildly obscene and frequently very funny, and not to forget, the pet feline, Cuddles, as close to the author as a human being. Kinky’s voice is feisty, irreverent, sweltering and exceedingly entertaining.

Sense and Sensibilty, Jane Austen’s first novel, the revised version of “Elinor and Marriane”, the book centers around the story of Dashwood sisters, their constraints and pursuits of love in a class-concious Regency England. Its publication in 1811 marked Austen as a huge literary talent, and its significance reverberates even today as one can re-discover Austen’s works so adept at uncovering the foibles of nineteenth century aristocracy.

The main characters are the two Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. Elinor, the eldest one, embraces practicality and restraint while Marianne gives her whole heart to every endeavor. When the Dashwoods – mother Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and youngest sister Margaret – are sent, almost impoverished, to a small cottage in Devonshire after the death of Mr. Dashwood and the machinations of their brother’s wife, they accept their new circumstances with as much cheer as they can muster even though their brother John and his wife have taken over the family estate and fortune. Their characters, albeit wildly different in their approaches to life, are impeccably honest and intelligent – and their suitors take notice. Elinor falls in love with the shy, awkward Edward, while Marianne’s affections are lavished on the dashing hunter Willoughby. As in all Austen’s books, love and marriage don’t come easily, as affections aren’t always returned and social jockeying sometimes takes precedence to true love. Edward turns out to be engaged to another girl, Lucy Steele and Willoughby plans to marry Miss Grey, a rich debutante. When Elinor learns of the marriage of Lucy Steele to Mr. Ferrars, she feels miserable to think of her Edward united with a lesser woman. At the same time, Marianne goes through a period of depression and falls seriously ill.Marianne renews her enthusiasm for life and starts realizing the worth of Colonel Brandon. Colonel Brandon is the unassuming, unlikely hero who falls in love with Marianne and saves her from death. Elinor is relieved when Edward reveals the truth to her and then proposes. Marianne marries Colonel Brandon and Elinor settles down with Edward Ferrars.

This novel adopts a generally serious tone. Parody is largely limited to the gossipy Mrs. Jenkins, who jumps to wild conclusions about situations she knows nothing about. Except for the first page or two where the circumstances of the Dashwoods are set up through a series of deaths and relations, possibly causing some confusion, this novel is exceedingly easy to follow for contemporary readers.
In an interestingly twist, the end of this novel brings into question which sister represents which part of the title.

In sum, this is a delightful and an excellent novel and well worth reading.

“The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” is an inspiring tale that describes a step-by-step approach to living with greater courage, balance, abundance, and joy. It is a kind of handbook for personal fulfillment in the present hectic age.

Robin Sharma is one of North America’s top keynote speakers on personal leadership and life management. He runs an institute that, conducts leadership and life-enrichment programmes and has authored several books on related subjects.

It is an extraordinary story of Julian Mantle, a successful and an overworked lawyer, forced to confront the spiritual crisis of his out-of-balance life.
It starts off dramatically with a powerful scene where the protagonist experiences a heart attack in a court battle. He soon realizes that his pace as a lawyer is creating stress that may contribute to his early death if he doesn’t change his direction in life. This wake up call takes him on a spiritual journey to India where he meets three teachers who each impart an important lesson to him. He goes to the Sages of Sivana where he drinks from the fountain of higher knowledge and unlocks the secret of youthful vitality. He soon realizes the meaning of life outside his materialistic goals. On a life-changing odyssey to an ancient culture, he discovers powerful, wise, and practical lessons that teach us to: Develop Joyful Thoughts, Follow Our Life’s Mission and Calling, Cultivate Self-Discipline and Act courageously, Value Time as Our Most Important Commodity, Nourish Our Relationships, and Live Fully, One Day at a Time.

Julian, the Monk, imaginatively reiterates the ancient truths of Sivanan philosophy in a very forceful manner and effectively expresses ancient truths in a modern idiom.
Sample a few messages from this book: “There are no mistakes, only lessons”, or “Life pretty much gives you what you ask from it. It is always listening”, or again, “Stop spending so much time chasing life’s big pleasures while you neglect the little ones”, and so on.

The book has innumerable interesting fables and anecdotes. It describes all the wisdoms with remarkable simplicity. Also symbols attached to them, making them easy to remember and assimilate. This is one book that perhaps the corporate-variety or the workaholics would do well to read. Julian Mantle could well be their alter-ego.
In short, the book is a stimulating read.