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coronaurora (London, UK)

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Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India
Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India
Price: £5.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative but detached, 22 May 2014
Dalrymple, a super-perceptive Indophile whose two previous works (City of Djinns and The Last Mughal) had exhilarated me with both his research and his reactions does away with the latter with middling results. Here, he stands apart and let nine people cherry-picked from a few states who are keeping a fringe religion with all its practices and ideologies intact alive, talk. And each of these nine vignettes pack in an extraordinary life: epic struggles in both past and present offset by complete submission to a whole framework of a religious doctrine or practice. Sometimes inherited, mostly serendipitous, each of the protagonist's finding a grid of faith which leads to their self-actualisation is earnestly captured and brought to context with Dalrymple-typical socio-cultural history of it.

Some novel and thought provoking conflicts do emerge with these enquiries: the idea of improved literacy killing off the oral tradition, a monk being forced to lead a life of killing having to submit and retract his vow of non-violence, and the most common refrain: that of the modern world pushing these once-mainstream practices into corners or the practices themselves evolving into less comprehensive, less pure versions with declining patrons and practitioners.

But I sorely missed a sort of an active authorial presence. While Dalrymple offers quite a credible commentary on his non-presence in the introduction, the lack of continuous input from him (however appropriating or misappropriating on however many levels), as humorous asides or a more contrarian stance, or a personal epilogue renders the book an air of a well-articulated but passive collection of some cultural/faith experiences that other than transiently edifying, remain suspended like curiosity bubbles afloat in mid-air.

The almost clinical transcription of the proponents' monologue do bring forth interesting subtexts to the table: the ever-present duel between rationality and religion, modernity and history, evolved fringe vs anaemic mainstream and finally the evolution from once-mainstream to now-anachronistic: but these are predictable given the dynamic flux that India has been under for the last few centuries and simply were not enough to make the book memorable for me.

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Marquez 2014)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Marquez 2014)
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 20 May 2014
I remember adoring Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera and came to this with many expectations. But it failed. I made it to the 60% mark and felt nothing but weariness and apathy. Like the characters in the Buendia family tree, whose life-force gets sucked out by their remote gypsy-welcoming village destroyed by a militarised left, all semblance of enjoyment for the reader dies somewhere after the first quarter of the book.

GGM decimates whole generations of the main family with the brutality of a cold firing squad despatched to raze a village. It's a splendid mirror to the politics of an imaginary Central/Latin American nation in mid-20th century, and while I admired all the work put in to create a fictional narrative with hilarious dips into magic realism to exaggerate a quirk or quotidian detail, I could not care beyond a point for characters that read more like character summaries. With everything force-fed in an unstoppable raving, breathless narrative: characters, their personalities and quirks, their one or two big life events (which includes breeding more people-oids named exactly like the last generation) and their exits from the stage of life: in rapid succession, this unstoppable "telling" with sparse dialogue and even lesser "showing" made for a tiresome read.

Like a never-ending sequence of bombast, and with not a single character in sight to see you through the century, it's hard to plough on with more confusing names, more sexual and kitchen-sink and political intrigue as it's just one thing after another told like a never-ending fable that starts pleasantly but nosedives into a detached, journalistic recounting. There are a bunch of fantastic short-stories hidden in here, given the impatient, fevered life arcs GGM is prone to drawing, but as a full fledged novel, this was too much, too diffuse and a total failure for me.

A House For Mr Biswas
A House For Mr Biswas
Price: £4.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Lengthy but relevant, 19 May 2014
All it takes is a single read of House for Mr Biswas to know that the concept of a virtuous, reliable, wizened protagonist or hero is well and truly dead in fiction. It is to Naipaul's credit that I found myself rooting for this indignant, cantankerous, moody but vital, throbbing protagonist called Mr Biswas (the titular name finding itself in this chronicle-of-sorts right from childhood: a hilarious poke at the "polite" addressing in more civilized societies) who has aspirations of making it big in rural Trinidad but not quite know how. His cluelessness at start, his frustration when he gets clued up on how severely limited his choices are given his socio-economic and geographic status and then channelling this frustration into ruffling feathers gives this otherwise kitchen-sink book a lot of agitation. Watching this itchy young man name-calling, poking fun of and shouting at everyone around him might not make for a pleasant read and sometimes blowing the whistle on the hypocrisy of rituals, covert transactions, role-playing and hierarchies within joint families seems a bit too righteous and arrogant, his desire to break ceilings is endearing. It's a pity then that you see him, in all his self-awareness ironically fixating his ultimate redemption in owning a ceiling of his own, a house: a place of solace, a place of freedom, a place where he could grumble endless yet be treated like a king. He justifies it to himself as having earned the right to a separate abode given the battles he has fought with the succession of houses he has had to inhabit, but it's plain for a reader to see what's really happened here.

There's something deeply tragic and funny about his obsession with ownership: it bites right into the obsessive hoarding of real estate in middle classes everywhere. Much before and more pernicious than the American Dream, ownership of property, has been a surefire class determinant for centuries; more so in the colonialized patches on the globe, where systematic intellectual and cultural poverty has led to "houses" being the key motivator to get up everyday, do a job you don't like but that pays the mortgage. That Naipaul fashions this collection of manners in the microcosm of Indian immigrants living in Trinidad as both a farce and socio-cultural document mining the particulate of vitriol and quirks is testament to his talent. They all hit home with me, being an Indian myself, and a particular favourite was the politics and games played by females in appeasing the matriarch: the sequences were pitched just right.

The recounting of incident as Mr Biswas hops from house to house made me laugh as the narrator (a biased mouthpiece for Mr Biswas) reveled in descriptions of decaying bricks and mortar as much as the shifts in Mr Biswas's mood. These houses are characters in themselves: they are erected in prose with loving care and much of the final act's comedy and thrill comes from this pedantic detailing: the things that are missed , that are not seen are the things that matter.

I was also struck by how beautifully Naipaul sketches Mr Biswas's adversarial pacifist: Mrs Tulsi. It's not often that a fringe character gets as many layers as the primary one, especially when the narrator is so in love with the latter. As a matriarch of a house teeming with sons, daughters, son-in-laws and a battery of grandchildren, she is a picture of equipoise and intimidating authority. Thanks to her, we see a compassionate stroke in drawing the difficulties faced when whole legions reside under one roof. How this leader pulls the strings, uses the right words to glue the family together suffuses the narrative with much heart. As she is relegated to a cot with an illness in the second half, much life from this effusive book is drained. In the same vein I must add that Mr Biswas's unpredictability starts to get old fast. As a rural renegade, his recalcitrance that I found endearing quickly became a general all-encompassing rant that cried for more comic relief. Some respite came from the comical politics of schooling and real-estate machinations in an upcoming Trinidadian port town and his perceptions on moving from the rural to urban settings, but for most part he remained brittle, his "void" in the soul somatised repeatedly to his abdomen gave the book an undercurrent of almost hamstrung despair that one suffers through, not enjoys.

Naipaul's prose though was wonderful throughout. Pithy, vigorous sentences, comprehensive vocabulary that is never bragged, and as his protagonist says in a lucid moment: there is no cheating with abstract words. His satire is layered, his sweeps nuanced: right from the casual violence in these big, corrosive families to limiting gender roles to anxiety of one's place in joint families, to the bafflingly anaemic intellectual culture, it's all here.

As we see Biswas grow and move, his rural exile is replaced by an urban alienation, and there's no clue what might make him "happy". Reaching out for happiness is as big a myth as the concept of family. It's a bleak denouement to this tragicomic slice-of-life farce of an everyday anti-hero, and while it could have been tighter, its effective in mocking and bemoaning the institutions and structures of civilisation.

Stranger to History: A Son's Journey through Islamic Lands
Stranger to History: A Son's Journey through Islamic Lands
Price: £8.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Tender and curious, 18 May 2014
I came to Stranger to History, Taseer's debut work after being thoroughly impressed by his piece on Sanskrit where he bemoaned the loss of a whole body of linguistic structure and culture thanks to colonialisation. It was personal, curious and his sentences encased within them a quiet tragedy that had me in thrall at his talent.

In this unusual part-biography, part-travelogue, he turns a journey of meeting his politician father in Pakistan who had estranged him in his childhood into an odyssey that would inform him about what being a Muslim in the current world entails. This decoding of contemporary Muslim identity and reality by virtue of travel and interviews in key Muslim nations (Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia Iran, Pakistan and other undocumented detours into Jordan and Yemen), would in his tentative plan, help him bridge the gulf of empathy for a father who is a warden and defender of an Islamic republic for decades. It would also, he hopes, help him complete his own sense of self as a Muslim: a name and a religion that has been little more than a nebulous patrilineal label from an absent father owing to the effect of having grown up in affluent, secular India and received further education and moorings in the world in more liberal societies.

This quest for personal actualisation and an ethnic understanding are both deep and compelling journeys and they ground this sometimes meandering, but never short of insightful book. Except for the novelistic flourishes in which Taseer waxes a sentence almost always too long on describing appearance of real people and the rhythms of landscape, he is in his element. Drawing upon his formal training in politics and journalism, his continuous mission to pin down the present and future aspirations of the hoi-polloi and spokespeople in Islamic lands leads to searching conversations and informed conclusions. He might just offer his reader glimpses, but his subjects are chosen with care and the wisdom yoked from interactions is articulated with pragmatism. I enjoyed how his clear-headed, direct questioning on the idea of the ideal Islamic way of life always met with an impasse as the answering man (from a Syrian cleric to his father) entered into a rhetoric constructed totally of convenient historical retellings and amorphous utopian dreams. Without being sensationalist, Taseer manages to make the reader see the fallacies of such utopias in the everyday corrosive realities within inward-looking and self-serving Islamic states with defined borders: Pakistan and Iran, both struggling with the modern "world system".

Punctuated with these socio-political musings, his personal journey tore into me, both in how earnestly he pursued his imagined redemption and how he fielded the rebuffs and snubs with absolute decorum. For his sake, I felt myself punching in the air as the bittersweet realisation in the denouement dawns on him as he sits next to his father watching Benazir Bhutto's funeral on live television. Like all journeys, he is a different man at the end of his. He sees things and people differently. The veil has dropped. He has gained in knowledge and lost in innocence, but it feels right. This is how things usually are. Life for rational thinkers is filled with many such obstacles of ossified structures and mind-sets. But the journey to reason must go on.

The Book of Other People
The Book of Other People
by Zadie Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tribute to creating characters, 13 May 2014
With a brief of "Make someone up", Zadie Smith, the editor of this compendium requested a bunch of contemporary novelists to create characters, and they each obliged with a short story designed around their titular subjects in their own way. Though rather rhetorical an exercise (can you write a short story without having a character?), if weaving a character-sketch into a narrative could be the closest to interpretation of her brief, more than half of the authors complied and delivered a few gems.

Dave Eggers' Theo, a fable of sleeping giants that was melancholic and fantastical, literally towered above the rest. Adam Thirlwell dons the skin of an Uzbeki woman and introspected on morality and self-actualisation when stuck with a semi-lettered partner like an ace ventriloquist. An exquisite piece of psychological horror penned by Julavits where a female judge, in a daydream of sorts, murders also enthralled, as did Vendela Vida's Soleil, where through a young girl's voice and perspective, a vivacious adult is deconstructed over the course of a brief visit. I was unfamiliar with all these authors and am glad this collection gave me a snapshot of their ability.

Zadie Smith, David Mitchell, Safran Foer, Kunzru and Toby Litt were authors I knew and they each delivered a nice piece here, though not quite fabulous enough as the top five above. Litt tried valiantly at creating a fable around a lonely monster, but is trumped by Eggers. Mitchell and Safran Foer each penned a tragicomic sketch of an oblivious and chatty old woman and both succeed. Kunzru played mental illness for laugh-cringe currency while Smith managed a sweeping, quiet and subtle character sketch of a father-figure over the years.

The pieces by Andrew O'Hagan and Nick Hornby offered much relief with the former transcribing short scenes involving the protagonist encased within titles of character traits that should provide scaffolding for any fictional character (budding writers, please note!). The latter, with ample help of illustrations gave a hilarious account of an author sliding downhill to almost-anonymity with author descriptions on book covers at different stages of his life summarising and covering his slide.

Miranda July, whose film oeuvre I am familiar surprised me with a confident stroke of incident and character but quite like her screenplays, the cutesiness padded any punch. The pieces submitted by Lethem, Greer and Toibin were for me, interminable and rank unengaging. And a Haitian author's story seemed too unpolished in this company.

Two authors submitted comic-strips, one serving a reminder of the immediate imprint of character-creation in such a format while other, chronicling a toddler-to-angsty-teenager strip threw up a perplexing montage of unitary signs and simple imagery to denote mental states.

For me, on the whole the compendium succeeded, not only for the more than seldom joy it gave me as a reader, but for continuously making me think of the art of character creation: the adjectives that conjure a personality, the dialogue that conjures a voice, the nouns that conjure a face, a body. There's much to bite into if you care for it.

Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays
Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays
Price: £4.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Crackling, 10 May 2014
Oblivious to Ms Smith's literary outings, I picked this up on a whim and found myself absolutely entranced by both the range and the readability. She dons many hats: of a literary criticism professor, a film reviewer, a diarist, a travelogue writer and a lecturing writer, and manages to suffuse all the ensuing discourse with wit, erudition and generosity that frankly had me by the collar.

It's her large heartedness and passion for all things literary that I could dip readily into the deep waters of deconstructing literary doyens like Eliot, Forster, Kafka, Nabokov Foster Wallace among others. She let me peek into the rhythms of novel-creation and imagination with her tonal and thematic inspirations commencing with her misgivings for "Black" literature.

The common thread of all her essays is relevance to her development as a reader and writer, and they are all spiced-up by colloquial and emotional reactions which always engaged. With her infectious love for the written word, she takes apart the concept of what being "lettered" really means to her and with piercing intelligence articulates what multiplicity of roots and tongues mean in the larger realm of literature and modern politics, extending from Shakespeare to Obama.

When departing from literary criticism, she is humane and observant when documenting her time in Liberia, thoroughly funny as she foxily bisects the bowels of the showbiz world on her Oscar weekend trip and positively jumping off the page with glee when writing about her screen idols Hepburn and Garbo. Her movie reviews from the 2006 award season are soaked in equal parts commentary and self portraiture which lead wonderfully to the final few pieces of unabashed, disinhibited autobiographical essays on her reactions to her father's demise and brother's foray into stand-up comedy.

With not a pinch of affectation or egoism, you see her owning up to her frailties and prejudices in matters of real and created worlds, and yet managing to inform you with her analytical faculty with levity that is seldom seen in her breed. If I can end this with an indelicate confession, I found myself a little bit in love with Ms Smith.

Any Human Heart
Any Human Heart
Price: £6.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Commendable and disposable, 7 May 2014
This review is from: Any Human Heart (Kindle Edition)
Boyd, in his attempt to experiment boundaries between fact and fiction, fashions a faux-memoir of a fictional character living in the 20th century. A middling Oxford History graduate who finds modest success as a writer, journalist and translator, he finds himself a reluctant fringe participant in major historical and intellectual movements of the century just past, all plausible due to his "visible" vocation, social standing and hobnobbing with those-in-the-know: the Spanish civil war, the second world war (first as a spy to keep an eye on Duke and Duchess of England in Bahamas and then a failed espionage attempt to report German movement in Switzerland for which he is incarcerated for two years), the post-war art scene in America (as a gallery owner in New York), the decrepit state of a typical NHS hopsital: a British post-war effort (as a patient after an accident), a civil war in North-East Nigeria (as a literature professor) and finally reporting for German anarchic and leftist factions in late 70s.

Boyd makes this designed-to-be-consequential man balance the unrealistic history-participation of atleast three lives worth with a battery of successive spouses and flings as dramatic and libidinous sustenance. And somehow pulls it off by giving the lead chap Logan Montstuart a ready sense of humour and an ideal to be candid on the written page. Like any journal that leaves little to imagination, this episodic confessional of sixty years worth certainly keeps one reading, if only to leap onto the next twentieth century historical peg and Logan's role in it. He is drawn as a sentimental but upbeat chap who gets a move on pretty fast. Someone with such indefatigable agency and unapologetic middling-to-zilch morals makes for a totally contained character who wants and deserves little from the reader, and this is where for me Any Human Heart fails after succeeding.

For most of its reading time it is a total riot: the humour, the sex, the range of people encountered (from prison guards to heads of state to militia leaders to famous authors and artists): all summarised and duly castigated or elevated in journal entries with Logan's viewpoints and judgements. But his personal relationships and trials, bereft of any other perspective make for superfluous, and as time wears on, tiresome reading. He justifies, makes peace and moves on. It's good to see him pouncing at every opportunity to live his life, indulge in all the wanderlust he can, and till his last breath seeking love and reaching out, but other than gaze silently at this larger than life Good Samaritan figure (with a weakness for bottle and women) confess his next antic, it gave me little to engage with other than a quick, oblique, inside view of a historical event.

There is a sprinkling of some beautiful contemplation, but given a journal's nature, the author and his character don't feel compelled to ponder and shift a phrase around longer than necessary, making the whole exercise immediately disposable the moment the last page is turned. It's just one long series of winks and sideways-snigger from an author just having fun.

The Sea
The Sea
Price: £6.07

3.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive but fleeting, 5 May 2014
This review is from: The Sea (Kindle Edition)
With much eloquence, Banville penetrates the thought-scape of a middle-aged male who has recently lost a spouse and in an angsty, bitter emptiness that has overtaken him, finds himself filling his vacant present and hollowed soul with a distant childhood holiday where he indulged in a torrid, hormonal affair with a fiesty upper-class girl and (in solely his potent imagination), with her mother.

Banville easily hits a few peaks of ruminative emotional honesty and descriptive beauty in his narrator's recollections. There is a beautiful sequence of the narrator describing a female arranging flowers in a sun soaked living room: easily one of the best scenes on the written page I have read in a while.

His articulate narrator's first person prose dances between elaborately choreographed long breathless pages of effusive memory trails to thoroughly alive invocations of vegetable spectres and atmosphere theatrics of the seaside.

The trouble is, this splendid, poetic articulation masks the narrator's existential lacuna all too well. I am also not sure that beyond some fantastic turns of phrases, if his two-pronged back-glance at his life felt weighty or tragic enough. Banville saddles himself with a single narrator and through his filter only phosphorescent appropriations of other characters emerge, which wobble dangerously when loaded with the tragic final actions. The sudden incident-rush in the end renders them opaque and pretentious in a way only high-brow literary characters are.

Thankfully, the narrator is always engaging and in Banville's language, the bleakness is dialled down. I fear that this dialled-down approach is both the book's strength and its weakness. Banville could have pushed the narrator and his world a bit further, developed them a tad more. In its present state, The Sea for all its scattered triumphs, feels fleeting.

Joseph Anton
Joseph Anton
by Salman Rushdie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Over-written but essential, 29 April 2014
This review is from: Joseph Anton (Paperback)
I was really curious to read an autobiography of an exiled literary doyen to find out what such an experience would do to a writer's mind.
How does an artist keep his art alive when being actively persecuted for his vision? Added to all the self-doubt, how does he proceed to the next project after living through the insult and banishment courtesy his last one; more so when he sees the damage inflicted on his loved ones in plain sight day in day out? I was content to find answers to these in no uncertain terms in Rushdie's minute exploration of his pulverised soul in Joseph Anton. With numerous pronouncements in form of letters to self, fierce commentary on actions of ideological opponents replete with invocations of Classics and history, much of this book is seeped in high quality dialectics with a parallel thread of an author stitching his own resurrection. Being a fan of Rushdie and Satanic Verses (unquestionably his best, according to me) to see how his later novels like Moor's Last Sigh and Ground Beneath emerged from experiences during the fatwa years along with the inspiration grains for his pre-fatwa works that brought him immense fame and immense disgrace, this was exactly what I wanted to read. I was quite surprised to see this narrated in an unshowy, straightforward third person prose: it made a brilliant point of this being a solemn journey quite removed from his pun-&-neologism-infested linguistic excesses in fiction. The last part, which descends to almost-tabloid journalism of his post-fatwa life could have been better edited but for most part, Joseph Anton hits the mark.

The book is constructed of a painstaking recount of the everyday routines of his fatwa years: the key players include the ragtag protection squad assembled by British intelligence agency and Rushdie's family with the main sequence of events determined by a decade of their constant movement of residences and intra- and inter-country trips to proceed with life, career and lobbying for his cause. All this while escaping from the forever-renewing threat of Iranian ayatollah-funded assassins on the loose. You also get an opportunity to dip into the world of constant perception manipulation by the bigwigs of the fourth estate in all major countries and how the allegiances of the opinion-making and protecting brigade drive Rushdie, his art and his family to breaking point.

The drip-by-drip account really drives the themes of exile and censorship home with all epiphanies emerging naturalistically from incident. It's just this one man with his small army of supporters fighting for a liberty in a seemingly contemporary world, and it makes for a sorry sight watching him lose and lose again. He comes clean for all his indulgences and indignations, privately with a succession of unsuccessful spouses and publicly with his peers and the protection squad and does not in his confident, entitled voice flinch from cutting them to size. This does not always make for a pleasant read but as a character study, it makes it all the more compelling. Ultimately, he engages because he doesn't let himself or his talent cower and sag despite everyone from all corners descending upon his vision with their own scissors, knives and guns.

Anyone who revels in the created worlds of words would sympathise with passion at Rushdie's steadfast commitment to his cause. All subjectivity and relativism aside, Satanic Verses is criminally under-read, misunderstood and underservingly banned by people who have no business interfering in such matters. I was absolutely oblivious to many angles of this complex story: the scale of the assassination threat and its constant renewals over the years he was hiding, the battery of self-appointed spokespeople of Islam world who would not stop using his name and his work to further their nefarious agendas, the indecisiveness of Western governments to take a stand because of the intertwined foreign trade with Iran, his consistent lobbying of his cause as governments and police departments refreshed their heads, the workings of the publishing world as they maneuver through the minefield of putting a controversial work to print.

In the memoir you see an example after-effect of a single life turned topsy turvy by the ugly, everyday twenty first century reality of state-sponsored terrorism and philistine, extremist factions and totalitarian governments driving all debate, all criticism of established institutions underground. Rushdie's fight is as relevant today (open the newspaper: China banning american sites and movies, Henry Donigher's alternative history of Hinduism scrapped from publication, author Susmita Bannerjee gunned down by Talibanis, umpteen intellectuals, artists and writers in Middle and South East Asia, Latin America persecuted) as it was in 1989. At so many levels, you see commerce and ideology, faith and ethics, ignorance and common-sense battle it out and see the wrong side lose despite all the lip-service, and you wonder aloud at the state of our "civilisation".

Gone Girl
Gone Girl
Price: £1.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Thriller for our times, 20 April 2014
This review is from: Gone Girl (Kindle Edition)
Matrimony, psychopathy and media: like three mounds of gunpowder are mixed with precision by explosion-expert Flynn to make for a psychological thriller that explodes on every cliffhanger. While she stacks her fireworks with artful design in the first act which has alternating monologues of a seemingly culpable husband and diary-entries from his just vanished wife, sparks begin flying as revelations and violence starts jumping out from the page soon. Padded with this is a baroque deconstruction of respective spouse's psyches as motivations. The continuous additions and subtractions of imagined character traits quickly become the engine of the mindgames that begin in the second half and lead to a tongue-in-cheek climax that freeze-frames both the characters in a unique cul-de-sac that is as much a result of their inner pathology as their projected images of selves.

It was clear a hundred pages in that these two cracker leads are larger than life and their games became much palatable after that. The intensity of the drama and violence and the sheer incident count shout for a movie adaptation, and I am hopeful that an auteur like Fincher will give it the right tone. But what might be difficult to translate for the screen is the crystal-clear satire on the perniciousness of televised and filmed realities into urban psyches. In the hypothetical scenario that potato-couches with crime-show-and-whodunnit addled brains filled to brim with pop culture references find themselves in the middle of a real-life crime, it'll be a sight to see them contemplating how convincing they seem adopting their expected roles in the investigation.

Much of the book's first half comedy comes from the self-consciousness of the urban species in this television and film saturated world, not just when role-playing as imagined-victims or imagined-perpetrators, but even as people indulging in flirting, courtships and relationships. This is followed (rather logically) in second half by orchestrating screen personas: Perception, we are told, in modern criminal investigations is everything. In the age of perpetual true crime shows on television, endless Netflix streams and listings on upcoming and running crime thriller TV series, gutter press newspapers with newsprint dedicated to freak killings and relationships, this made-for-big-screen psychological carnage-on-the-page could not be contemporary enough.

All the world's truly, in today's scene, a stage. Like it or not.

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