Teaser Tuesday: September 2



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I have read this book before but is has been a few years since. Goodreads had it listed as #1 book of “Books you should read at least once in your life” so I felt like just re-reading, hopefully a bit more attentively than I did that last time. Anyway, I definitely believe it deserves the #1 spot! I am not quite done yet but I have reaffirmed it as part of my Top 10 books of all time!


“You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women – black and white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. “(226)

What are you reading this week?

Review: Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories by Thomas Mann


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Published: 1954

The day has finally come!! I have finally, after much groaning, whining and butt-kicking, finished this book! That should give you an idea of my impression of these stories by Thomas Mann.

I started off just set on reading the first and main story of the compilation, “Death in Venice” but that story terminated only after 73 pages and so my frugal and perfectionist self had to finish the entire work. I really dislike starting something and then not fully completing it. It makes me feel like a cheater. Plus I may have cajoled myself into thinking that the next tale would be better, which if it had been true, would have enabled me to have breezed through the whole 400 pages in no time!

Sadly, that never happened. Let me just clarify. The first and main story, “Death is Venice” was a great read. I found myself fascinated with the inner workings of the main character Gustav von Aschenbach, a fifty-five year old celebrated German writer who travels to Venice and gets completely enamoured/obsessed with a fourteen year old Hungarian boy named Tadzio. From the moment he lays his eyes on him he is completely overwhelmed by his physical beauty, and throughout the narration compares him to a Greek sculpture and describes in detail the beauty of parts of his body. His initial appreciation of his beauty quickly turns into a disturbing obsession when he starts to plan his day around where he will be and engages in stalker behaviour. Throughout the entire story he never once approaches him, touches him or interacts with Tadzio, keeping his orgiastic Dionysian dreams to himself. Yet, his world and time is completely consumed by this human. I don’t want to give much more away, but that is the premise of the story. Although disturbing from one end, it is also fascinating to see the man completed crumble and alter his life just because of this young adolescent doesn’t give him more than a quick smile. There is very little dialogue and interactions, rather it focuses in on Aschenbach’s obsession, thought process and personal struggle. This was truly a fascinating read.

The other stories were not so much. Often he gives excessive details about the minute of things. His “Man and His Dog” is a superb example of this. He describes the dog’s entire life in detail; his mannerisms, behaviour, characteristics, confirmation, etc. To the point where any idea of plot disappears and it begins to read like a personal journal entry. There is rarely a purpose to his long detailed descriptions and frequently I found myself having to re-read long paragraphs simply because I zoned out and became disengaged.

The other frustrating element was that the stories often started off as engaging but then turned mundane a few pages later. They started off with a lot of promise, and then that was overshadowed by excessive, pointless details about every aspect of a character’s behaviour and past. Unlike in the “Death in Venice”, most of his stories have more than two characters, so the descriptions get quickly tiring. I understand character development is important, but so is having a point to your story. Frequently, that was very ambiguous.

Having said all that, his diction is out of this world. Very Victorian, in his choice of vocabulary, yet also had that modernist sentiment beginning to sprout (Nietzsche’s philosophy and Freud’s theories in psychology being the main elements here). He has a rich vocabulary to say the least and that made me really pleased. There is nothing like capturing the perfect moment with a mere few strong and rich terms. Makes me all giddy!

Just a reminder, this is my impression of this book. I completely accept and understand that some people enjoy reading these types of stories, so please refrain from badgering me about my opinion. This is my sole opinion of this work, and I understand and accept that others may have another opinion. That’s all 🙂

Verdict: Definitely read “Death in Venice” because I really enjoyed that story. It’s only 70+ pages so it’s a quick read and the characters are really interesting. He touches on a topic similarly covered in Nabokov’s controversial novel Lolita. The other stories maybe just browse through one/two of them and if they don’t strike your fancy I wouldn’t bother with the rest.

Was there a book you have read that you didn’t engage with well? Why do you think that was? Leave a comment below, I am very interested in hearing your experiences 🙂

Review: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov


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Published: 1967

Some critics consider it one of the best novels of the 20th century and one of the greatest Soviet satires ever written. I must confess I wholly agree with that statement. It was an absolutely brilliantly articulated novel, about a dark time in Soviet society (what part wasn’t really?). Written in the 1930s but only published in the 1960s due to massive censorship, this novel reflects the moods and serious issues haunting every Soviet citizen at the time.


The novel touches on powerful themes of good and evil, truth and lies, courage and cowardice and love and lust. But don’t let these seemingly basic themes fool you into thinking this a quick beach-read of a novel.

I must confess, some knowledge of the Soviet history at the time would be greatly useful to the reader, as I can see if you aren’t familiar with some of the issues of the time it may seem a bit bland to you. The fear of getting caught talking to a foreigner or carrying foreign currency is thankfully not a massive issue in most Western civilizations and so it’s hard to image it being so horrible as it is portrayed in the book. Also, widespread disappearances of important officials are not felt, as strongly today as it did back in the day, under Stalin thousands of people would just vanish without a trace during the Great Terror.  Thankfully, the version I got (translated by Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor) came with commentary and notes on the text at the back of the book. I feel like this gave me huge advantage into uncovering some of the satire and just being able to fully immerse myself into the novel.

There is just so much to be said about the brilliancy of this book there is no way that I will be able to touch upon all of it here. Bulgakov is able to mix deep philosophical allegory, alongside religion, mythology, socio-political issues, modern life and superficiality. The characters are brilliant, often they based on real figures in Soviet society. They encapsulate the fears and norms of soviet life, and sometimes seeing those characters interact is enough to make you laugh. The diction is pure perfection, because it he is able to articulate heavy themes in such a light and simple manner.


Satirical as it may be, it is also a very dark book. The novel is heavily influenced by the Faust legend, and themes of evil line every page of the book. The majority of the novel the Devil is toying with the atheists in Moscow, who make up the majority of the population in the novel. He does some hilarious yet simultaneously atrocious things to his victims (not Ramsey Snow style of torture) but just humiliation to maximum.

The presence of magic is often felt, as the Devil always plays tricks on his victims. But what I love about the book is how the author is able to mix reality with magic. The Devil just seems like a normal person, and the basis of the novel is real life, yet the magical elements start to creep in as the novel progresses. The Devil gives the people at the theatre show free clothes for which they greedily hauled away in masses, but as soon as they leave the theatre it all vanishes into thin air!

Verdict: This book is amazing, no matter how many times I have read it! There are so many themes present, set in Moscow which is neat, and very well written. Requires a bit more time to fully grasp/understand; breezing through it would only give you the tip of the iceberg. A must read though 🙂

Is there a book that you had to re-read because it was so good? If so what book is it? I would love you hear what you have to recommend 🙂