Book Review: Invisible Monsters

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Continuing on my Summer Reading List, I read Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. I actually finished it two weeks ago, but I’ve been having the hardest time formulating my thoughts to review this novel. Which, I guess, is a reflection of the novel itself. It is an intensely disturbing yet captivating story. I read in in two days or so, yet I found myself speechless by the end of it. I tried to explain the story to my beau, but it left me (and him) even more confused and dazed.

The novel is based around self-loathing models and secretive, boisterous drag queens, on a cross-country road trip trying to find themselves while scamming innocent random bystanders to fuel their addictions. It is a sad, violent, disgusting, profound story, and it surely will make you think. It is a bit hard to read, like a Schizophrenic with ADD trying to tell you story. It jumps around quite a bit, and interrupts itself many times, playing off like a film of the mind.

The themes of the novel however, are relevant to every reader. Attention – the desperation to get it, the anguish of not wanting it; self-loathing; jealousy; hatred mixed with love and the blurry lines in between; addiction; self-mutilation; struggling with identity; the sham that very often is veiled as family values and the constant search for meaning and acceptance.

It is a rollercoaster ride of anguish, disgust, sadness and absurdity so intense – it becomes funny. If you can stick to it, you’ll find an amazing plot twist, and you’ll be sucker punched by the culmination of the novel. It assaults your mind like few novels can.

There was a profound quote in the book that has stuck with me: “When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves.” I find it very accurate, completely true and utterly crushing.

Next up on the list is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Now go, get your geek on and read a book!

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Book Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey

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Just in time for the release of the film adaptation (opening in South Africa on 22 August), I’ve read The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais. This is the best book I’ve read this year… Okay, maybe alongside The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. But they’re in totally different categories. So I can’t give either top prize. I loved them both.

I read this lovely book on recommendation of my dear friend Ernest. We have a very special bond, him and I, and our deepest mutual interest is food. You’ll recall I went to the Taste of Cape Town? I went with him. He told me a couple of weeks ago about a film being released soon that he really wanted to go see. So I watched the trailer. And I was excited. But then I found out it is based on a book, and as per my rule, I HAD to read it first. So I got my grubby little paws on it, and started reading.

I was hooked from the first page, and I read it in a day. I adore this book. It is so well written, and it demonstrates how an author can create powerful and effective imagery with just his words. This author in particular, does so excellently. The book follows a typical Indian family from their humble beginnings in Mumbai, working as a family to reach success through their food. However, before long tragedy strikes, and the family has to leave their home. Their Mumbai. They end up in London, trying to rebuild. Language and culture differences obviously plays a big role, and it is a theme throughout the book. After some time, the family once again, finds themselves having to leave their home. They travel across Europe, experiencing the culture and cuisine offered by each region they stop, when they finally end up in a small village deep in France. It is here where they settle and find themselves again. They delve back into their own culture and food again after a very long time of feeling alienated and lost. Then they meet their neighbour, Madame Mallory, a difficult and stern French chef who runs a Michelin starred inn.

I am so afraid to give too much away, I just want to stop myself. It is an incredible story of culture, food, traveling, family, friendship, heartache, conflict and ultimately, the strive to follow one’s passion.

Having been to India myself, I can tell you that I was there again while reading this. The smells, the tastes, the people and the sounds, all of it, was so accurately described by Mr Morais, that I was instantly there again. It is fantastic, and it reaffirmed the desire in me to go back again. And France, oh France, the darling of my foodie heart. I want to go back. And eat. And learn.

If you love food, and culture, and traveling, and a good read, this book is for you. If you haven’t seen the film, read it first. I promise, it will be worth it.

Summer Reading List

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I have a deep and profound love for books. All books. Whether they be old or new, I adore them all. Truth be told though, I love buying old books. They smell of imagination, and seeing the battle scars of a pre-loved book makes me appreciate them even more. Sometimes I buy books just because they look pretty, and when I’m lucky they even contain a great story. This love is generations strong, a love nursed gently by my grandmother, passed on to my mother, and on to us. One of my biggest treats as a child was to visit my grandmother over school vacation. She would take us to the small town library, each armed with three library cards, and free reign over our literary choices. A week later, we would return them, and the hunt would start again.

I have recently stumbled across a list of books to read, that “will change your life”. After reading a brief synopsis of each, I jotted down which ones I want to read. So I have decided to share this list with you, and tell you if you should read them too. Some of them are classics, some are new hits. All of them have my attention.

The list is not long, but it’s a good start to keep my brain reading-fit.

  • The Fault In Our Stars – John Greene
  • The Hundred-Foot Journey – Richard C. Morais
  • Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig
  • The Diving Bell & The Butterfly – Jean-Dominique Bauby
  • Invisible Monsters – Chuck Palahniuk
  • White Oleander – Janet Fitch
  • Play It As It Lays: A Novel – Joan Didion
  • Ada, or Ardor – Vladimir Nabokov
  • Push: A Novel – Sapphire
  • The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • 1984 – George Orwell
  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  • The Shining – Stephen King
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • Catcher In The Rye – J.D Salinger

I’m excited to share my thoughts with you. I’ll re-read the ones I’ve read before too. The first review will be on The Fault In Our Stars, although I believe that I’m one of the last people on earth who have read it after all the hype. Let’s geek it up!