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Book Nook - 04-06-2018

Monday, June 04, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to [email protected]

Ruthless Ambition
The Hogarth Shakespeare project invited modern novelists to re-imagine some of his best-known plays. Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbo’s 'Macbeth' is the latest, after writers like Howard Jacobson, Edward St Aubyn, Margeret Atwood Anne Tyler and Jeanette Winterson have taken a stab at Shakespeare.

Nesbo has turned 'Macbeth' into a noir thriller, set in a lawless town in seventies Scotland. Most cops are corrupt and on the payroll of the town’s rival drug lords, Hecate and Sweno. In a grim, damp, sooty town where rampant unemployment has driven people to drugs, Macbeth steps in with the aim to clean up.

A man with an ugly past spent in an orphanage, when he appears in the book, he is head of the armed SWAT unit, much admired by his men. Duff is his buddy from the orphanage days, and Banquo his mentor and friend in the force. Duncan is the chief commissioner of the police and Malcolm his deputy, while Duff is the ambitious leader of the narcotics unit. Three of Hecate’s drug-brewing crew stand in for the witches, and Lady is the beautiful, read-haired, power-hungry owner of the town’s classy casino, Inverness.

The parallels are neatly built up and some lines from Macbeth deftly inserted, even though so much murder and bloodshed just to be the chief commissioner of a small town, does seem excessive. It also seems implausible that Macbeth could plot and kill so many with impunity and find others to blame.

Still, Nesbo layers on the darkness, guilt, blackmail, paranoia, remorse, revenge, and writes some vivid action sequences, that will no doubt look great on screen, should the novel be filmed — which it should be. Overlook the anachronisms, and this is a terrific page-turner, as nightmarish as the Shakespeare play.
By Jo Nesbo
Publisher: Hogarth
Pages: 464


Excerpt Of Macbeth
“What?” He blinked in the dark bedroom.

She repeated the words: “You have to kill Duncan.”

Lady heard the sound of her own words, felt them grow in her mouth and drown her beating heart.

Macbeth sat up in bed, looking at her carefully. “Are you awake or talking in your sleep, darling?”

“No. I’m here. And you know it has to be done.”

“You were having a bad dream. And now — “

“No! Think about it. It’s logical. It’s him or us.”

“Do you think he wishes us any harm? He’s only just promoted me.”

“In name you may be the head of Organized Crime, but in practice you’re at the mercy of his whims. If you want to close the Obelisk, if you want to chase the drug dealers out of the area around the Inverness and increase police presence on the streets so that people feel safe, you have to be chief commissioner. And that’s just the small things. Think of all the big things we could achieve with you in the top job, darling.”

Macbeth laughed. “But Duncan wants to do big things.”

“I don’t doubt that he honestly and genuinely wants to, but to achieve big things a chief commissioner must have broad support from the people. And for this town’s inhabitants Duncan is just a snob who landed the top post, as Kenneth did too, as Tourtell did in the town hall. It isn’t beautiful words that win over the populace, it’s who you are. And you and I are part of them, Macbeth. We know what they know. We want what they want. Listen. Of the people. For the people. With the people. Do you understand? We are the only ones who can say that.”

“I understand, but... ”

“But what?” She stroked his stomach. “Don’t you want to be in charge? Aren’t you a man who wants to be at the top? Are you happy to lick the boots of others?”

“Of course not. But if we just wait we’ll get there anyway. As head of Organized Crime I’m still number three.”

“But the chief commissioner’s office is not for the likes of you, my love! Think about it. You’ve been given this job so that it looks as if we’re as good as them. They’ll never give you the top job. Not willingly. We have to take it.”


Short Takes
Award-winning author Paro Anand’s book '2' with Swedish writer Orjan Persson, beautifully illustrated by Garima Gupta and Kaveri Gopalarishnan is a must read for children. Says the summary, “This slick and ground-breaking graphic novel tells the story of a young Indian boy, Ganga, and a Swedish girl, Helga, whose destinies get tied with one another in a strange and magical way. Two is a gem on its own, which shows the perspective of two different persons in a two different way. This book has two covers and can be flipped over to get the story from the other end.”
By Paro Anand & Orjan Persson
Published by Scholastic
Pages: 164

'Conspirator' is the fourth novel in RV Raman’s corporate thriller series that explores white-collar crime in India. Says the synopsis, “In the midst of a private party hosted by a media mogul in Coorg, murder strikes, sending shockwaves through its influential guests.

“When Inspector Dhruvi Kishore arrives at the scene, she finds, to her consternation, that some of her suspects – prominent politicians, businessmen, a blackmailer and a purveyor of fake news – have fled. She pursues them to Delhi, only to find herself drawn into the bewildering world of fake news, paid news and tailored news. Fighting forces trying to shut down her investigation, Dhruvi struggles to weed out the truth from a web of well-constructed lies before time runs out.

“Revealing a world where ethics are scarce and lucre is abundant, 'Conspirator' weaves a thrilling tale about how the people who uncover others’ secrets often have the most to hide.”
By RV Raman
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 316

The full title is Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue and the synopsis states, “In 2007, a short blogpost on Valleywag, the Silicon Valley-vertical of Gawker Media, outed PayPal founder and billionaire investor Peter Thiel as gay. Thiel's sexuality had been known to close friends and family, but he didn't consider himself a public figure, and believed the information was private.

“This post would be the casus belli for a meticulously plotted conspiracy that would end nearly a decade later with a $140 million dollar judgment against Gawker, its bankruptcy and with Nick Denton, Gawker's CEO and founder, out of a job. Only later would the world learn that Gawker's demise was not incidental – it had been masterminded by Thiel.

“For years, Thiel had searched endlessly for a solution to what he'd come to call the “Gawker Problem.” When an unmarked envelope delivered an illegally recorded sex tape of Hogan with his best friend's wife, Gawker had seen the chance for millions of page views and to say the things that others were afraid to say. Thiel saw their publication of the tape as the opportunity he was looking for. He would come to pit Hogan against Gawker in a multi-year proxy war through the Florida legal system, while Gawker remained confidently convinced they would prevail as they had over so many other lawsuit – until it was too late.

“The verdict would stun the world and so would Peter's ultimate unmasking as the man who had set it all in motion. Why had he done this? How had no one discovered it? What would this mean – for the First Amendment? For privacy? For culture? In Holiday's masterful telling of this nearly unbelievable conspiracy, informed by interviews with all the key players, this case transcends the narrative of how one billionaire took down a media empire or the current state of the free press. It's a study in power, strategy, and one of the most wildly ambitious – and successful – secret plots in recent memory.

“Some will cheer Gawker's destruction and others will lament it, but after reading these pages – and seeing the access the author was given – no one will deny that there is something ruthless and brilliant about Peter Thiel's shocking attempt to shake up the world.”
By Ryan Holiday
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 336

Ryan Holiday’s acclaimed book 'Trust Me, I’m Lying, Confessions Of A Media Manipulator', predicted the rise of fake news. According to the summary, “It was the first book to blow the lid off the speed and force at which rumors travel online – and get “traded up” the media ecosystem until they become real headlines and generate real responses in the real world. The culprit? Marketers and professional media manipulators, encouraged by the toxic economics of the news business.

“Whenever you see a malicious online rumor costs a company millions, politically motivated fake news driving elections, a product or celebrity zooming from total obscurity to viral sensation, or anonymously sourced articles becoming national conversation, someone is behind it. Often someone like Ryan Holiday.”
Trust Me, I’m Lying
By Ryan Holiday
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 352


Dr Yusuf Merchant, the famous anti-drugs crusader has written a book titled 'Happyness: Life Lessons from a Creative Addict'. The synopsis reads, “Dr Yusuf Merchant, or Doc as he is widely called, has been schooled by adversity from his childhood. He has lost friends and loved ones to dark addictions, endured heart-wrenching betrayal, lived on the streets, and struggled with the trauma of abandonment and the absence of hope. But he hit back against every crisis – and so can you.”

“In this book, the master of mindfulness offers forty-two different ways to live a peaceful and fulfilling life. He punches negativity in the face and uses visualisation techniques to achieve his dreams. Bringing together scientific theories on the functioning of the brain and how it alters under stress, depression and addiction as well as existential questions on karma and the meaning of life, he concludes that it is self-belief along with integrity of character that offers a short-cut to happiness.”

“If you want to lead a more successful and spiritual life, or if you want to take control of your destiny, the answers lie within these pages.”
Happyness: Life Lessons from a Creative Addict
By Dr Yusuf Merchant
Publisher: Westland
Pages: 273

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