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GROUCHO AND ME

20 Sep
AUTHOR : GROUCHO MARX
ORIGINAL LANGUAGE : ENGLISH

The wittiest, funniest and the cleverest autobiography I ever read. 

You can read on Wikipedia page as to who Groucho Marx is but you must read this book to understand what a sense of humour he has. This is one of those books that seems more like a comedy movie than an autobiography. So little of his personal life is mentioned and so much of his personal experiences are fed which are mostly hilarious. 

This book is path breaking in terms of autobiographical-writing. This does not follow chronology as a pattern and flows freely with time.It does not boast of accomplishment and does not have any serious tone either. 

This is the only autobiography where the author does not seem to be serious and more-so pulling the leg of editor and even the readers at times. 

There are many Delaney moments (Delaney is the name Groucho uses to refer someone about whom he does not want to reveal). So a friend, a co-film producer they all are named Delaney. The name itself evoked laughter for me. 

Groucho Marx is one of the cleverest comedians of his time and he rates his fellow comedians like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and others greatly. There is a sense of gratitude that this book brings. Also, there are umpteen hints of the state of economy of the country USA. Also, the hints of history like prohibition in america are fun. 

There is also something I learnt about love. Here are a couple of lines from the book

“I believe, however, that real love only appears when the early fires of passion have cooled off and the embers just lie there smoldering.”
Let’s turn the whole thing over to the master, G.B.S (Shaw to you), and I quote: “When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive and most transient of passions, they are required to swear they will remain in that excited, abnormal and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.”
It’s funny, witty, charming and there is a profound smile all through and also there are enough laugh out loud moments. A masterpiece in itself from the master of humour. It’s a 5/5. I wish this is taken as a sample to write autobiographies.

Here I am just giving a glimpse of Groucho in his own words in the book.

“I once asked, “Mom, why do you wear that tight corset and that silly wig? They’re uncomfortable and, besides, everybody knows they’re phony.”

 “Julie,” she would answer, “you don’t understand. When a lady goes out for the evening she likes to look nice.”

 “I know, Mom, but as soon as you get to someone’s house you remove the wig and corset.”

 “Naturally,” -she replied. “I take them off because they’re uncomfortable. But look how nice I look when I arrive!”

 I couldn’t follow this logic, but to her it made sense.
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THE BOOK OF LAUGHTER AND FORGETTING

20 Apr
AUTHOR : MILAN KUNDERA
ORIGINAL LANGUAGE : CZECH
TRANSLATOR : AARON ASHER (translated from French)

This book got me back into the habit of reading books. It is a great experience in itself.

I was a voracious reader till 2010. Thanks to my friends and other sources like internet which have made me acquaint with some great books and kept me going. They were insightful and my personality was build by them. 
This book was suggested to me by my good friend Raghuveer, who reads books more than most people I know. He just handed over it and said just read any of the pages. I read a page in the middle and was taken aback by the intrigue. Though, I took his copy, I knew my weakness was that I will not be able to complete unless I spend my hard earned money, purchasing it. So I purchased it, then began to read.
The author was knew and so was the backdrop of the book. The book is a 1970’s novel. It has a political backdrop and has some historical aspects involved too. Now, this is a Czech novel and I as an Indian would be least familiar with those happenings, but it’s not the politics or history that made a connect with me. What I like most was that, the theme, the undercurrent of each narrative was love making. This is universal, these are essentially love stories which have lot many details embedded. These are surely above history and politics and are about the basic human needs and emotions. 
Love making is presented in the most humorous as well intriguing way. From fornication to foreplay it makes us visualise all the physicality in a rib tickling manner rather than emotional one. Yet, this is not a comedy either, and that’s the speciality. With subtle differences it makes a compelling concoction of love, emotion, drama and comedy. Indeed, the undertone is philosophy and there are wonderful insights of philosophy too

The style I felt was Kafkaic (referring Franz Kafka). Perhaps, I may be wrong but the Kafka readers shall understand what I mean here. It’s random. erratic and yet there are threads that seem to have been knitted well to make a good fabric.

From learning the word “Litost” to knowing the Renaissance poets like “Petrarch”, “Goethe” and a few more, this is a book that if well explored, gives immense satisfaction of knowing new things. I loved it all the way through

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and I must say, I would getting back to this more often, you can pick up any page to start with and go on, the fun is enormous in this.

2 of my favourite quotes from this book before I close.

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”

“Joking is a barrier between man and the world. Joking is the enemy of love and poetry.” 

Rating is a mere formality to this masterpiece. From me, it gets a 5/5.