Thursday, February 3, 2011

February's Essential Reading - Blast from the Past

9 Awesome Books to Read from the 90s I guess!

Strip Tease - CARL HIAASEN
This may have been a really awful movie to remember, except for Demi Moore's title act for which she was apparently paid $12.5 million but the book by Carl Hiaasen on which it was based, is one helluva fun. With a snappy story line of corrupt politicians, vain TV reporters, grumble cops and a heroine to good to be true, Striptease is a virtual teaser, especially its hard-edged satire on American politicians. Incidentally, Striptease the movie was a colossal box office and critical failure and also won the Golden Raspberry Award for the 1996's Worst Picture of the Year.

Fullalove - GORDON BURN
A tender sentimental title, an innocent photograph of a cuddly toy puppy and you would think it to be a rosy children's novel. But just after a few pages of reading and it's clear Burn's no hold's barred tale of a blacked-out tabloid hero who covers serial killings and child snatchings is the last thing you would want your kids to snuggle up next to their beds. Burn, who was also an award-winning columnist for Esquire and Rolling Stone, conjures up a veritable blood bath with Norman Miller, the hero criss-crossing crash sites, visiting hospitals and mass murderers. By the time, you reach the end, you are a drained-out, sensitized zombie yourself, Read "Happy like Murderers" too, also by Burn if you like this one.

Too beautiful for bikers, too harsh for hippies wrote the New Statesman when Noon's debut hit the Sci-Fi markets in 1994. And it sure hit hard. Vurt was not only voted the science fiction novel of the year but also won the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke award. No achievement this, when you compare the fact that Noon was competing against the usual Sci-Fi biggies like Gibson and Asimov. Vurt is a Sci-Fi surprise, no gang-bang Star war adventure but a move down to earth setting in near future Manchester and a plot that creeps up to a superb climax. If you haven't read it until now, go grab it even if you don't like menacing Aliens and organic galaxies.

Bombay Talkie - AMEENA MEER
When we think of life in India, two clich├ęs come to mind. The first of chicken tikka, snake charmers, bullock carts and women in colorful saris, the second is the bleeding image of a growing densely populated country trying to come in terms with BPOs, atom bombs, Aids and corruption. Ameena Meer's bold debut blows the lid of these stereotypes with a insiders look of wannabe twenty some thing Indians struggling to make it big in a brave new world where east meets west with interesting consequences. Meer's debut packs enough ethnic zing, sexual tension and local flavors to make “Bombay Talkie" a fabulous read.

For a start, Mark Richard's best selling Fishboy sounds a tad boring especially its tedious long beginning that stretches the limits. Your patience is soon rewarded as it slowly turns into a dazzling roller coaster with enough imaginative twists and turns that keeps you spellbound to the finish. With bizarre characters like the lead fish boy, fish wives, seafarers, nuclear submarines and beautiful mermaids for company, Richard builds a intoxicating fantasy that is surreal, dark and good fun to read. P.S: Here's a small nugget you may love to know - Mark Richard was screenwriter for 2008's American war drama film "Stop Loss" directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry) which starred Ryan Phillippe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Sleepeasy - TM WRIGHT
The premise is simple. Hero Harry Briggs is searching for his pregnant wife who is suddenly missing but is rumored to be happy and living in Silver lake. The surprise however, is that Harry Briggs is a dead man and Silver lake is a state of mind. With such a noirish ghostliness attached to it, Wright has enough fun as Harry frantically searches for his wife with just a revolver trench coat in a world that obeys no laws except the supernatural and nothing is perfect. A waking dream of a novel, Sleepeasy may not be your ideal horror read, but it sure is a delight. From the award winning author of the internationally best selling " A Manhattan Ghost Story" which is soon to be made into a movie.

Kolynsky Heights - LIONEL DAVIDSON
With shades of Clive Cussler's "Vixen 03 ", critically acclaimed Davidson's Kolynsky Heights is one of those old fashioned, spy themed, fine action adventures that you don't read these days. With an serpentine plot that stretches from a secret lab in ice cold Siberia to Oxford and a hero as suave as James Bond, the no-nonsense narrative motors along nicely at overdrive speed and regular bursts of neat action. Keeps you pre-occupied till its shattering and satisfying climax. If you like this, I would recommend the award winning and equally popular "A Long Way to Shiloh" and "The Chelsea Murders"

The author of the best selling "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", Milan Kundera has been one of the most fascinating writers of our century and with Slowness, he proved he was indeed one of the very best. His critics may not really agree but Slowness, is actually a fast paced philosophical tale of loss and human tragedy. Heavy stuff about two centuries linked together by the theme of seduction, about nobles and sex put across with a delightful lightness and grace, which only Kundera can muster. It's an altogether different question about the title, which of course, is ironic.

Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow - PETER HOEG
A delightful and superb novel that made Hoeg, a house hold name in literary circles. And why not indeed. A moody murder thriller, steeped in an cold Nordic interior, Hoeg builds the tempo sublimely and pulls it off efficiently with his elegant prose and wonderfull characterizations. For some, it may be a bit modish, privy to contemporary crime fiction and a predictable plot may too obviously haunt its pages, but this is a splendid novel that sets the mind dreaming and these days, too few books do that. In 1997, this book was also made into a pleasant little movie - "Smilla's Sense of Snow" starring Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, Robert Loggia, Jim Broadbent, Richard Harris and Tom Wilkinson.


  1. thank you! been working in advertising so long, i forgot i used to be a real writer. this made my day (or week or month...)

    some other real gems, there, too - i'm in good company!

  2. This is fantastic! The "Ameena Meer" on my blog..Well, you have made my day! If I have the money, I would love to make your Bombay Talkie into a movie! loved it!

    P.S: Will mail you soon!

  3. in for Bombay Talkie movie!

  4. Super list. Didn't knew Smilla's Sense of Snow was based on a novel!

  5. Looks like an interesting list. Just wish I enjoyed reading more than I do.


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