Saturday, 18 February 2017

Book Review : Uday Mane's Fables from India

I'm sparing all comments on the design
 or it'll be another post 
I'm firmly of the opinion that if you have nothing nice to say it is better not to say anything at all ( especially to strangers; friends, well, they knew what was coming when they signed up) . In fact when I got this book to review I was torn between the guilt of not writing as I had promised to and painful process of finding some glimmer of good in it. But finally, being compelled to write, I put forth my opinion as honestly as possible.

Pros :
It has only one. It has fully restored my faith in myself to be a published writer because clearly anyone can be.

Where do I start. The title? The completely misleading title? Though it says Fables from India, the author has generously "borrowed" from all cultures and I even suspect least a couple of them are from his own imaginations( not that it's a bad thing, but why pretend it's anything other than your own short stories is beyond me). Some of them are so blatantly"borrowed" from classics without even the faintest attempt at placing it in the Indian context that you wonder if we are to ignore that content or just blindly accept that it is Indian because Mane says so.

Of the 22 stories ( I giving the poetry a free pass) that Mane covers in the book, there were in total 3 that was free of any mistakes. The rest was riddled with weird clunky sentences( Can a king be a demagogue?! Mane thinks so), spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, misused similes and metaphors ( simpleton's food instead of simple food). And this after the first read. I did not have the courage to go through it again for the fear of what I will find and corresponding mounting irritation of seeing this language mangled. Honestly, I don't hold Mane accountable for these mistakes but his editor and the publisher who were clearly in such a hurry to publish that they could not manage the most basic proofreading. Or least I hope that is the case because the alternative would be that they are horribly incompetent and I hope their English teachers never have the shame of seeing their work.

This is apart from the occasionally disturbing morals that I hope no child will imbibe like the one in the Jungle Laws story which does not clarify what the jungle law is and could be easily misinterpreted as case for racism.

To be fair there were 2 stories which was bitter sweet and touching (The Joker and Nadir's Little Lamb) in this mess, but it is simply not worth it to drudge through this swamp of words to get to them. This is just one of the prime example why Indian authors/publishers are seen so poorly by the literati and I would sincerely hope no one buys this for their child with the hope of improving the said child's English.

Monday, 16 November 2015


Illustration by Chris Buzelli
I read because life is too short for me to do everything. Even if I decide to have nothing but adventures and travel everyday, all day till I die it’s still too short because I still won’t be spearing down a mammoth or hold the fate of the universe in my hands or win a match by catching the golden snitch. 

I read because reality can be limited. Limited by where I go and what I do. Limited by what I know. Limited by laws of physics. Limited by the time moving only forward.

Water by Brian Stauffer
I read because I want to share a moment, a memory that is independent of time and place. When I read a book that my dad has read, I know I’m sharing a moment with him even if I can’t create any more memories with him. It sparks a crazy hope in me that my unborn children and grandchildren will pick up the book long after I’m gone and still be a part of that moment along with me and my dad. 

I read because I lose myself otherwise. In other people’s trials and travels I find emotions I din’t know existed in me; thoughts are triggered, desires are awakened, horizons are pushed, perspectives changed, imagination is charged, and I see a me who is more alive after the reading. 

I read because, the way food sustains my shell, 

Reading nourishes my soul. 

Illustration by Julie Paschkis

The post is a response to a writing prompt on Medium.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Book of the Month : June 2015

After May, June was a mixed bag. I guess every month can't be a winner. But I was able to see some foreign locales and get interesting cultural insights this month, so it was not a total loss.

Without further ado, Phil presents to you...

Sugar and Other Stories by A.S. Byatt - 2 / 5

I've been wanting to try Byatt but had always been rather intimidated. So I thought I'll start with her short stories. Seemed simple enough. I still don't know if that was a good idea or not, because I simply did not understand her. The language was convoluted and so were the plots.  A couple of stories were nice, like 'The Day E. M. Forster Died' and 'The July Ghost', but most of it went over my head. I felt like a 5 yr old trying to read Shakespeare. Not a collection I enjoyed on the whole.

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter - 2 / 5

The idea behind the book sounded super interesting. Brothers Grimm and Hans Anderson more so, had changed the folk stories to make it more palatable for children. In doing so, he took out the morbid and morally confusing aspects. So Carter set out to rehash the familiar fairy tales, from their popular PG rated version back to the the original tales full of sex and violence. Sounded exciting and I was all set. Except, like Byatt, this woman too writes highly convoluted sentences which felt like a cipher than a statement. The basic stories were interesting, especially comparing how the original actually unfolds vs. the popular versions. But I felt it was much too complicated a writing just to say a few fairy tales.

Murder in the Mews by Agatha Christie - 3.2 / 5

She seems to be my go-to gal whenever I want some light reading. This was a collection of 4 stories and the title story I thought was brilliant. So was Triangle at Rhodes but the other two (Dead Man's Mirror, The Incredible Theft) were just ok.  I 'm starting to feel comparatively, that novels are more of her strong point than short stories. But still worth picking up coz after all she's the 'queen of crime'!

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo - 3.5 / 5

It's not easy to deal with death and all the more when you are a child. I love how deftly DiCamillo has dealt with the subject.  I feel her writings remind you what it means to be a kid - the intensity of emotion, of both joy and sorrow, the ease of forgiveness borne out of the need to grow, feeling trapped between adult needs and your dependency on people less than perfect. It reminds you childhood can be both a wonderful and a terrifying place. While this was not as brilliant as 'The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane', there is no doubt that DiCamillo is a powerhouse in children's literature.

Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski - 3.7 / 5

If you are looking to read a book on Thailand and get a feel of the people and place, I'm not sure if this is something I recommend. You do get a vague snap shot of the history of Northern Thailand but since the book mostly tends to deal with American missionaries and anthropologists, you don't get a feel of it's native people. But that doesn't change the fact that it is an engrossing read and you do get a good insight into the lives of people who leave behind a way of life to embrace a whole new culture, like missionaries and anthropologists. Berlinski successfully blurs the lines between fact and fiction creating an extremely believable story. If not for the disclaimer by Berlinski, you would walk away feeling that you were reading about a true incident.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman - 4  / 5

Both the book and the movie had been on my list of must-read/watch-cult-fiction and I'm happy to report the book is everything it promised to be. It panders to your most childish notions of good and bad; and does it with panache. The base story is the most cliched bunch of Bollywood story bits mashed together ( drama, laughs, emotion, romance, action) but the narrator makes all the difference. Goldman makes you laugh so hard and in spite of knowing where the story is heading, builds suspense and drama like no other. Pick it up for a good old fashioned adventure!

Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap - 4.1 / 5

I had never been to Thailand when I took up the book, but it din't matter because Lapcharoensap is just brilliant at capturing the place though his short stories. The stories have at their heart universal themes but it's drawn in distinctly Thai flavors. The language has a wonderful clarity that brings everyone he writes about alive.Most of the stories have a mix of sadness and hope, and seen mainly from a young person's perspective. It feels like the struggle of leaving behind childhood and it's innocence and straddling between adulthood is part of Thailand trying to define itself.  You get the sense that people are tired of being exploited by the foreigners but are too polite and too dependent to push back. It's hard to pinpoint why it feels so Thai, but it does. It's warm and alive, the stories and you get to bring back some lovely memories of the place and the people with this book.

And now to the Book of the Month. She's one of my favorite writers and her prose is so fine tuned that reading her words is like the feeling of being covered in satin.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman - 4.5 / 5

Anne Fadiman's At Large and At Small, a collection of familiar essays, is one of my most read (and loved) books. So, it stood to reason that I should try her book - 'The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures'. The title threw me off. It sounded like a Ph.D thesis report of an anthropologist - dry.  To say I was wrong doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of how wonderful it was. She took a medical case file of a child with epilepsy and turned into a narrative of humanity and it's follies. Most of us like to think of ourselves as broadminded, especially the more educated. But no matter how broad minded we are, we have our blind spots and Fadiman highlights how we ignore them. She explores the two cultures, Hmong and the western medicine dispassionately. Sherwin Nuland said of the account, "There are no villains in Fadiman's tale, just as there are no heroes. People are presented as she saw them, in their humility and their frailty--and their nobility."

It took me almost a year to finish. Not because it's anything less than spectacular, but because it's so wonderfully empathetic to all the pain and human emotions that I found it hard to read it without feeling the pain myself. It can leave you feeling like a raw wound but out of that pain comes compassion and understanding of your prejudices. It opens you up to accepting those with whom you have nothing in common other than humanity. Fadiman proves again and again that she's one of the most underrated and brilliant writers I've ever come across.

Well, that's it for June. Wish you all happy rains and happy reading!
Take care,

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Book of the Month : May 2015

May was an absolute revelation.. Like I said it here, it was the month for women power. It happened entirely by accident that ( except for the last two books) that almost all I read was by women ( except one). I have to say, I din't expect to be a different experience.  I have never really thought about authors really having a gender. I mean, it's a incidental thing, and never thought it was something which could influence their writing. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was wrong.

Anyways, I have already ranted why, so I'll get on with it!

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" by Lena Dunham - 1.5 / 5

I don't know what kind of girl she is, but she is definitely not the kind of girl who should be allowed to write a book. In a book,  least one character should be likable, preferably the narrator. But there is only consistent character, that is Dunham and she's comes across as the embodiment of the privileged white girl with first world problems. I had watched a couple of episodes of  her hit show Girls and I had found them quite funny imagining of course that she's being ironic about the bunch of whiny loser girls. But turns out she's not. And the more you read the book, the more irritated you feel at her whining, why life is not going as planned though she doesn't take any effort. For the longest time I wondered if this is some sort of age gap at work,if  this is how the new kids think, the entitlement. But she's barely 2 yrs younger to me so that theory went out to the window. Her stories are disjointed and there's a marked lack of continuity between chapters. And honestly by the end of the book, you are quite clueless what the hell she has "learned".

Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie - 3 / 5

It felt a bit tame for Poirot, but I found it interesting because it shows the human side of his secretary Miss Lemon. The ending also was a little contrived and far fetched. Not Agatha Christie's best work.

Dunham's book made me a little suspicious of picking the next one afraid it is going to blow up in my face. But I knew I would eventually read it anyways ( coz I loveee her), so might as well get it over with. So that's how I ended up with...

Bossypants by Tina Fey - 3.2 / 5

And it was everything that you want and expect from Tina Fey. She's warm, funny, engaging and most importantly, grounded. I was a wee bit disappointed that most of the book is about her professional life and you don't see much of her personal life ( I believe she's saving that for her autobiography when she's 80). But I do love her energy and enthusiasm especially when she faces discrimination. Her attitude is more like "Life is not fair. Ok, so we'll work harder and then say 'HA HA' to life!' and what's not to love about it. There are a couple of chapters which are rather random but overall a fun read.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling - 3.4 / 5

I love Fey and I always will, but Mindy totally stole my heart with this book. I don't always find her show funny but her book was hilarious. She too is warm, funny, grounded. I love how she has made it plain that any success that she enjoys is through sheer grit and doggedness. She's not dismissing that luck and perhaps even talent might have played a part but mostly it's sticking with it till it works. The book is like a light, refreshing chat with a friend, so go pick it up for a pick-me-up! :)

Tamarind City by Bishwanath Ghosh - 3.4 / 5

I have a theory that anyone who loves Chennai ( or Madras, as purists insist) is someone who can look beyond the superficial and see you for who you are. I'm yet to meet a person who loves Chennai and I've not liked. On the surface, yes, it's hellishly hot and humid. But if you keep that aside, spend some time, you'll also find out that the place is gorgeous amalgamation of good people, charming culture and cosy beaches. So when Mr.Ghosh, an outsider who has been charmed ( like myself) takes it upon himself to explore my favorite city I knew I would love it. He's done a lovely job of presenting the historical Madras and the present day Chennai. Towards the end the book it becomes more about him and less about the city and I found the narrative a tad weak there. I don't blame him because the city becomes so intertwined with your soul that you stop identifying it as something separate. But that doesn't always make it more interesting for the reader. Overall, if you thought you knew Chennai, well, think again and pick up the book because it's going to totally surprise you. And if you are not a fan of the city, then too pick up the book because you'll find out why you should be!

PS: He was the only male author in the month of May. But as far as I'm concerned his subject was female, so it all works out!

Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie -  3.6 / 5

It was a bit underwhelming for a Pulitzer prize winner. The prize sets up a huge expectation. I feel this is one of those books which, had I approached without the Pulitzer tag I would have enjoyed it more. Her language is lovely and her characters, though quite mundane, are memorable. I think that's what makes this book a great read. She takes almost clichéd characters and given them a new life within the framework of the cliché. We get a glimpse of the inner workings of the dowdy spinster and the beautiful and spoiled actress. How life is exactly as we imagine when we judge someone  and fit them into a box; and yet it is never as we expect it either. Quite an interesting exercise in 'not judging a book by the cover'.

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo - 3.7/ 5
Thank you Mr. President!

I have Barack Obama to thank for having led me to this book and the lovely DiCamillo. It was in his book buying list (here's the list) and there were enough books that I had enjoyed before, so thought I'll pick up some and try. I found the blurb for Flora and Ulysses quite ticklish so I got my hand on it immediately ( also got 'A Constellation of Vital Phenomena' by Anthony Marra but have not read it yet).

The book is about the self-described 10 yr old cynic Flora (she reminds me of a 10 yr old Calvin, Bill Watterson's that is) and the superhero squirrel Ulysses with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry. It's so wonderfully relate-able, especially Flora's relationship with her parents. It has abundance of humor laced with an underlying sadness and K. G. Campbell's illustrations capture it perfectly. It's a funny blend of book and comic and the technique as been used to the maximum effect. You really don't know where to draw the line ( Is it a comic? It is a book?). But that doesn't matter because it works to pull you into the story.

I love that DiCamillo treats her young readers as perceptive individuals who are quite capable of understanding that people can be both good and bad. Quite a refreshing approach to a children's book to have characters who are grey rather than black and white in their personalities. She also uses language which might be a little above a child's but again I love that she's challenging her young readers to grow and learn. It's a wonderful ride getting to know Flora and her weird family (and of course Ulysses), one I'm sure you will enjoy even if you are no longer 10 yrs old!

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear - 3.7 / 5

There are not many female detectives who have captured the imagination. After reading Maisie Dobbs I, for the life of me, can't figure out why. She's not flamboyant like Sherlock or Poirot, but I loved her practical, no nonsense approach to problems. I also loved the story premise, set after the World War. So often we hear the exploits of the soldiers in the war but rarely do we bother with what happens after. We think that it was the war itself which was the hardship and that once it is over, they will move on like the rest of us. Winspear has explored the sensitive issue brilliantly without taking away any of the excitement that goes into a mystery. And nor has she kept the personal life of the protagonist, Dobbs, non-existent like in the case of Holmes. Instead she uses it to enrich the experience of getting to know Dobbs. I can't wait to pick up more of the series.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott -  4 / 5

If ever you are faced with a writer's block, this is the book to pick up. Or because you have never tried writing because you are afraid to find out what that would be like, pick up Bird by Bird. Or you just love books, then too you should pick it up. What Lamott does give you behind-the-scenes of writing a book. Not the edited, stylised version but the sweat, blood, tears and bare bones that makes writing what it is. It's not always pretty but it's wonderfully fulfilling. And she does it with gentle humor and grace. Even if you don't have any dreams of being a best selling author ( you don't have to lie to me :-P) it's still a lovely read because you really start to appreciate the effort it takes to be called an author.

And finally it's time for the book of the month..

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo - 4.5 / 5

I could not believe this was a children's book because it was so wise and beautiful and sad. It broke my heart. It really did. And yet I could not help but loving it fiercely! I know DiCamillo credits her young readers with far more grace and understanding than most adults do, but here I was a little skeptical if this is something I would want to give to a child to read because it was so heartbreaking.

The story line is simple enough, though the language is a little more advanced at times for a children's book. But that is all secondary. Edward Tulane, the porcelain rabbit who gets adopted and loved by different people at different points of his life carves out a space for himself in your heart whether you want it or not. Not just Edward, each character shines with realness; they are imperfect yet all the more beautiful because of it. As Edward's pride diminishes, as his heart grows warmer and filled with love, your heart too swells till it feels like its going to burst. Well, in my case, I guess it did because I found myself bawling away as I was closing the book. It made me intensely grateful for the people I love and who love me. It reminded me to not take the wonderful blessings I have for granted. Most importantly, it showed me what love, real heartbreaking kind of love can do. For that alone, you should pick up the book. Again, it'll hurt, but think of it as growing pains for your heart!

Well, that's the 10 books which made up May. See you soon!
Take care and Keep reading, folks!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Superheroes : Now with rainbow colors!

Ah superheroes. Those paragons of strength and righteousness. The ones who keep our little hearts and mind secure in the knowledge that good always triumphs over evil no matter how convoluted or devious the plans of those nefarious masterminds are. No matter how big or powerful the bullies are, a superhero by your side makes all the difference in the world. Which is why it made perfect sense to recruit some for the LGBT team!  :) And you don’t have to dig particularly deep to find some superheroes who might be hiding a little more in the closet than just a cape.

To begin with, let’s go over the all too familiar relationship between Batman and Robin. I mean what’s really going on there? There’s nothing new about this question. The gay angle for Batman and Robin has been going on ever since.. well, Robin came into the scene.  But let’s face it, we all know Batman is straight. Least according to Catwoman. Robin on the other hand.. well, it’s an open question.  After all he’s never had a girlfriend and more importantly he’s perfectly happy being with Batman. How is possible  a teenager with raging hormones never think fondly about a girl or two and instead is happy traipsing around in short tight shorts with a hunky guy? Of course you could always put forth the argument that crime fighting in Gotham is serious business and that there’s no time for fooling around with girls. The only issue with that would be the fact that Batman always seem to find the time to go for a date or two. Hmm.. it all points to the inevitable., doesn’t it?

This is the bitch slap which started it all. The actual comic strip which gave the world the slapping meme. If you ask me, Robin’s shorts are a lot more suggestive than need be.  Plus, the conversation and the body language suggest an intimacy, does it not?

And speaking of teen boys, type “Is Tintin” on Google and see what auto suggestion throws up.
Looks like we are not the only one asking the question! And it’s not surprising. Not once in the entire series, in all his adventures around the world did a girl catch his eye. I mean c’mon!! How is it  possible for a young man to not have any female companions when you are as well travelled as Tintin is. It almost  defies logic till you consider the possibility of him being gay.

 If that’s not proof enough, you can look at his relationship with Haddock. Haddock, again a well-travelled man who’s shown no interest in women but is devoted to Tintin in a way that is completely at odds with his gruff exterior. Unlike Tintin, he doesn’t seem like someone who really enjoys being chased by (or chasing) goons and foiling evil plans to take over the world. But he endures all for the sake of this teen reporter.  And he’s a man of means and it makes perfect sense for him to settle down with a pretty wife in his comfy mansion.

And why does this teenage invest so much energy into an alcoholic and make him turn over a new leaf. All of this simply doesn’t make sense unless you consider their relationship to have a deeper chord, one which is a lot more than friendship. 

And if you start some serious psychoanalysis on their relationship.. whoa, it’s a Freudian goldmine! From Tintin’s androgynous physique to his almost nonexistent relationship with his parents (a lot of gay men in that period particularly are known  to have difficult relationship with the parents) to the fact that the only female friend he has is an opera diva.  The signs are all there!!

Now we move a little south of border and wonder about our Gaulish friends, Asterisk and Obelisk.  While it’s well documented that Obelisk is more than a little susceptible when it comes to female charms, does it not strike you odd why these bachelors have set up home together away from their families? And though there’s been tons of gorgeous and powerful women around them, they always come home to each other. It’s not like there are no other single men in the village but they seem to be the only two bachelors who are living with each other. In the words of Fulliautomatix, something smells fishy here!! 

Moving to American soil, we have Forsythe Pendleton  Jones III more popularly known as Jughead who might not be a superhero but is most certain an icon. His tremendous appetite is matched only by his compulsion to not date girls. While he clearly is not a misogynist with plenty of women as his friends, his lack of interest in them is all the more marked when you look at the antics of the rest of his friends circle. Even if you don’t have the raging hormones of a teenager, with so much peer pressure around you to date, he should have dated a girl or two.  Despite his skinny frame and unconventional choice in head gear, he’s had a few gorgeous women who have chased him and even convinced him to go on a couple of dates. But all of this feels more like exploration and experimenting rather than a serious try to make a relationship work.  Moreover all that over eating (where does it all go, though!) does suggest that he might be trying to compensate for some deep seated emotional distress. Overall, it looks like our favorite foodie needs to step out of the closet. 

While none of the super heroes considered so far is openly gay or is only hinted at, DC comics has embraced the changing attitudes and given the world an openly gay super hero with Green Lantern.  A new series, The New 52, was released in 2012 which reimagines some of DC’s star cast. In this series, Alan Scott’s Green Lantern is shown with his partner Sam. There’s even some steamy kissing scenes.

Not to be left behind, Marvel comics also hosted a same sex wedding in the June2012 issue of it’s Astonishing X-Men where Northstar married his partner Kyle.  X-men so totally works as an analogy for gay people. A minority misunderstood and persecuted by the majority. As a result they try to hide their true selves, cloaking themselves with the mundane. Until they realize they are not alone and the differences are to be celebrated and what makes them special.

Now, before anyone starts throwing brickbats for ruining their favorite childhood past time, just stop and think for a moment what difference it really makes, super heroes being gay. Does Batman’s fierce love for justice grow any less? Is Tintin less exciting and adventurous? Jughead less logical or loyal as a friend? None of the qualities which make them who they are, which make them super heroes  and why we love them are changed. It merely adds another facet to their personality. In their private lives. So ease up and let us celebrate superheroes in all the colors of the rainbow!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Summer snapshots!

My summer holidays are tinged with monsoons as well. Its like nature is being kind and fulfilling all I missed about Kerala. Bright sunny May mornings and cozy rainy June afternoons followed by pleasant clear sky-ed nights of December. Plus some extra love like the puppies. When a day starts with puppies you know the day can only be so bad.

And Summer means mangoes, guavas, star apples fresh off the branch. Summer means bugs birds and butterflies waiting to be captured. But thanks to the rains, without the sweat and the heat.

The best part though would be the people. Being pampered with your favorite dishes, all you've been craving all year long. Every meal you promise yourself that this time you won't stuff yourself and break that promise because your gran mom, mom and mom in law heaps another spoon on to your plate and you just cant refuse the love or the yumminess.

After all of this, you park yourself on the hammock on the balcony to count your blessings. And you find its a many splendored thing, like love.

Women on Women - Literary style!

Inadvertently May because the month for Woman Power. No, not girl power. It was all about Women. Girls are sweet. Women are powerful. Women have a strength which belie their sweetness. Not all girls become women and some girls take a long time to reach womanhood. All the books I read last month had a woman at the heart of it's book. And with the exception of two (out of the eleven), all the rest were written by women too. And it was a revelation.

When men write about women (or girls) they tend to give them an aura. It can be of the saint or of the whore, or maybe even somewhere in between ( the whore with the heart of gold?!). Rarely are they goofy, the women of the male imagination ( MPDG don't count!). And even rarer are the cases where the goofiness is a part of the strength. It's not that all the women I read about were goofy. But I'm just pointing out an instance of how male and female writers tend to portray female characters. The more female writers I read, I felt there was some subliminal difference. But one I could not place a finger on immediately. Had I read female and male authors indiscriminately as I'm wont to do, I'm sure I would not have even noticed the difference. I would have merely notched it to the particular style or voice of the author.

But skipping from one women to another, author wise, I caught a subtle shift of perception. The women are plainer. Even the attractive ones. They are not built to make your heart ache with want. Not on sight that is. And even more importantly love is not a function that's dependent on their external beauty. Or even on their likability. These women, created by other women, are irritable, have abundant sense of humor even if it is a bit sardonic, unwillingly kind or even willingly unkind. Yet, they still find love and fulfillment. And the love that they find is not dependent on them being likable all the time. Nor is love and fulfillment directly proportional. This is certainly not a revelation in the real world.

Then why does it feel so exceptional in the literary one?

They, the female characters, are also sweet, considerate, jealous, motherly, sexy or what ever feminine virtue (or vice) you want to confer on them. The difference, I guess, is that these women are not an embodiment of a single emotion or virtue ( or vice). They get tired and have exceptionally bad hair days and be exceptionally cranky because of the said day or be exceptionally happy and not give a flying f**k for the said day. But the range of emotion that they display, these women written by other women. doesn't make them seem hysterical. Instead it is a mere expression of their feelings at that point of time in the story.

I don't know if I'm making sense. It's not like all the women written by men are hysterical or ideal. I'm not saying that men can't or haven't written about women realistically. But looking back, I feel a majority of the women written by men have, for the lack of a better word, an aura. A particular virtue or vice is subtly enhanced or embodied by the female characters. Male characters can get angry but they are not defined by it (unless we are talking about the Hulk). They also be sad, happy, jealous, manipulative. yet they don't always carry an aura. It is not the norm. The hero or more often the master or guide will have an aura but not every male in the story has one.

And to be clear, I'm definitely not saying female authors are better than their male counterparts. The abundance of shitty writers are more or less equal in their distribution among genders. What I am saying is that it is refreshing to see female characters who are not boxed and colored with a brush of a singular virtue.
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