Naga Chokkanathan

Archive for October 2016

I must admit that I bought this book (Saint George: Rusty Knight and Monster Tamer) mainly for its cover. It looked so good (like a comics book cover), I wanted to find out what’s inside.

This book is a collection of funny short stories about Saint George: a strange character who sleeps for a week and then works(!) for a week, taming monsters.

Yes, it is a dangerous job; but George has a secret weapon against those monsters which help him tame them easily. Everyone respects him because of this unique skill, and he is recruited by the King, as a minister for the Environment.

But, what is that secret weapon and how did George get it? You should read the book to find out, at least the first chapter. After that I am sure you will complete rest of the chapters: George may have his own (funny) weaknesses, but he manages to win every challenge thrown at him.

While John Powell’s wonderful, comical descriptions of each character make it an enjoyable read. The text is easy to follow for the target audience, illustrations accompanying the text are simple and neat.

George is not a contemporary character. But, the author intelligently uses modern descriptions and examples to describe the ancient world. This style suits this book because of its humorous nature.

One word of caution: You need to have some background about England, its counties to understand some of the jokes. My daughter (12 years) found it difficult to follow.

You can read more about this book here: http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=88763

I learnt about Haiku poems in my college days. Their short form and the unique way of expressing everyday moments was fascinating. I even tried writing few Haiku poems in Tamil. I sent one of them to my favourite writer Sujatha and asked him, ‘do you think this fits under the Haiku Grammar?’

Why should I ask this question to Sujatha?

He wrote a fantastic book on Haiku. So, I wanted to know if I had understood it right.

Sujatha sent a simple response, ‘If you had actually experienced what you had written in this poem, it is Haiku. Else, it is not.’

Jack Cantwell’s book “Life Expressed in 25 Words or Less” brought back those memories of Haiku writing.

Technically speaking, Jack’s poems can’t be called Haikus, because they don’t fit the meter for Haiku. But, he has set up his own rule (25 words or less) for writing these poems. Even though the meter is different, the impact created by these poems remains the same.

A few people run away the moment you mention ‘poetry’ to them. But Jack’s poems will keep them hooked because they are so small, simple and straightforward. But at the same time, you will have a lot to think after reading them. They will remind you some incident from your own life, and you will start writing your own word picture (an excellent term I found in the book.)

Jack has shared the background stories about how some of the poems in the book were written. I liked them, but reading poems directly (without the background stories) was a better experience!

You can read more about this book here: http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=88810


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