Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review : Journals of the Big Mouth Bass

Title : Journals of the Big Mouth Bass

Author : Debbie Sue Bass Williamson

Publisher : Souper Publishing

ISBN : 978-0-9801234-1-8

Debbie receives a journal from her mother as birthday present and this particular present catches her fancy more than anything else. She is a girl who is well aware of her incapability of keeping secrets to herself and this nature of hers has already earned her the title 'Big Mouth Bass'. So the journal functions as the perfect rescuer for her - a perfect place to pour out her heart's secrets, her experiences, feelings and thoughts, without holding anything back. She decides to address her journal entries to God with the confidence that God won't let her secrets out. She confides everything here - her (mis) adventures as part of the Sunny Side Gang, her failed attempts to behave in a more girly manner, her struggle to be accepted in certain groups, her misery of being last to be picked up for the games of dodge ball and her first crush - are just a few of the issues that she has to deal with.

So the whole book is in the voice of a nine-year old who thinks herself as a - 'sort of dorky with buck teeth, red hair and lots of freckles'.

Debbie Bass is a suburban girl growing up in 1960s and through her journal entries she gives a glimpse of the journey of a girl trying to make sense of the age old traditions, values and family restrictions while keeping her eyes on the wider promising unfathomed world.

There are some portions which are straight from the heart of a girl who is going through the difficult phase of growing up. However, after reading the whole journal, I am contemplating whether it is the kind of book I would give to my nine-year old son to read or not. There are a couple of chapters I have objection with - one depicting the magic and visualization and another is towards the end when the death of a certain character can jolt the young readers. So I would urge the parents to read this book first and then take the decision. The last chapters brought back the memories of 'Bridge to Terabithia'

Overall an engaging and entertaining book. The short abrupt sentences completely reflect the distracted mind of a nine-year old. Girls will be able to relate more to it simply because the protagonist is a girl and has described the experiences of transitioning from a little girl to the pre-teen phase of life.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Review : Tasting The Universe

Title : Tasting the Universe

Author : Maureen Seaberg

Publisher : New Page Books

ISBN : 978-1-60163-159-6

I must confess that I did not know what Synesthesia mean before I received this book to be reviewed. And the first thing I did after having picked up this book to read is to look up the meaning of Synesthesia. One of the simpler explanations about this term that I found online is - 'This is a peculiar condition in which the senses get cross-wired. For example, a person with synesthesia may see colours when he/she hears a sound or can actually taste words; stimulation of one sense, it seems, causes an inappropriate stimulation of another. The most common form of synesthesia is when people see or hear words in colour. The condition affects about 1 in 25,000 people and is found more commonly in women than in men. There appears to be more left handed individuals among synesthetics than in the general population although the significance of this is unclear. Often synsethetics have exceptional memories, have a tendency to unusual 'psychic' experience, but may have problems at maths and navigation. '

The author Maureen Seaberg, a Synesthetic herself, very early on realized that her aberrant perceptions of letters and numbers sound rather strange to people around her, so she preferred keeping the same to herself. But later inspired by 'the present day climate of inquiry into and wonder about this nearly forgotten gift', she took upon herself to explore this amazing alternate world. In this book, she watches, questions, interviews and tries to experience the experiences of Synesthetic rock stars, violinists, neuroscientists and quantum physicists in her endeavor to understand the amazing patterns made by the mind in collaboration with the senses. As observed by the owners of these rare gifts, often this unique intermingling of senses indeed empowers the person to open a whole new vista of creativity, sensitivity, divinity and an unmatched, unparalleled vision and eventually to establish connection between all these diverse faculties.

People who are familiar with this form of perception and understanding of things will be able to relate to this book and to the experiences of others mentioned in it, and for other readers who are completely alien to this unknown world, this book opens a small window for them to peep through the colourful, magical, mystical and fancier world. I specifically liked the part where Seaberg has listed the criteria to test whether a person is indeed a synesthetic or not. This criteria is propounded by Dr. Richard E. Cytowiz who is accredited with the success of bringing synesthesia back as one of the topics of deep research and discussion.

Overall a fascinating read.

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