The Telegraph
Wednesday , May 23 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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What Calcutta is reading and why

Puffin has come out with a collection of new and old poems for children by Ruskin Bond titled Hip-Hop Nature Boy and Other Poems. Packing in verses on nature, animals, travel, childhood, school, love and humour, this illustrated paperback is priced at Rs 150. Here’s a sample:

If a tortoise could run
And losses be won,
And bullies be buttered on toast;
If a song brought a shower
And a gun grew a flower,
This world would be nicer than most

On May 19, the prolific and much-loved writer celebrated his 78th birthday in his beautiful home called Ivy Cottage in Landour, Mussoorie. “A little reading, a little writing... and lots of sleeping... that’s the plan for today,” Ruskin told t2 over the landline, since he refuses to use a cellphone. Or a computer, for that matter.

There were three birthday cakes for his big day and while Ruskin admitted that he wasn’t really fond of cakes, “there are many kids in the house and I don’t think the cakes will last too long!”

A baseball pitcher father playing for the Mets is almost a dream come true for any kid living in New York City. But

11-year-old Paul Tracey learns it the hard way that sometimes a good thing is not always for the best, even as he nurses a secret dream of playing big one day and carefully puts together scrapbooks of his heroes.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs of 1973 are going down slowly and not so quietly. They call upon 21-year-old Joe Castle from Calico Rock to join them. Joe turns out to be just the wonder boy the team needed to pull themselves up the ranks. Hitting home run after home run, the boy from Calico Rock soon becomes the idol of every baseball fan.

Calico Joe (Hachette, Rs 350) is an oddball by bestselling legal thriller writer John Grisham, who despite working outside his genre, manages to capture the very essence of the American obsession called baseball. Though a work of fiction, Grisham’s eye for detail about the game would do any sports writer proud.

Slow to start, the book picks up pace following the epic match between the Mets and the Cubs, where young Paul’s father Warren, the rash pitcher who lives by baseball codes and booze, comes face to face with the sensation called Joe Castle. But one fast ball was all that was required to change the future as many would have wanted to see it. That ball destroys two careers and breaks millions of hearts. Though slightly predictable, you will warm to the story as the various dynamics of human relationships come into play.

Bookworm was, of course, tickled to notice that while Jeffrey Archer’s latest work is titled The Sins of the Father, John Grisham’s Calico Joe comes with the tagline A father’s sin. A son’s redemption. Talk of birds of a feather...!

This year Oxford University Press completes 100 years of publishing in India and to mark the occasion the Press has come out with a gem on one of its best-selling writers — Jim Corbett. My Kumaon — Uncollected Writings (Oxford, Rs 225) is a slim volume that holds within its bright green covers a treasure trove of history, anecdotes, trivia, essays, casual jottings and correspondence involving the great hunter-turned-nature conservationist. Starting with a chronology of the life and times of Edward James Corbett (yes, that’s Jim’s full name), the book opens into Corbett’s account of how he was almost bullied into putting pen to paper by a friend! Accompanying the text are the most delightful pencil

sketches — a gnarled tree, a peaceful-looking buffalo, a prowling Royal Bengal Tiger — that make turning the pages even more fun. It’s a collector’s item, for Corbett fans, nature lovers, adventurists — well, actually for just about anybody who loves a jolly good story!

It’s been 40 years since the last man was sent to the moon. NASA has finally devised an ingenious way to attract funds and also divert public attention from the last disastrous expedition (when those sent to the lunar base never made it back) by holding a world-wide lottery to pick three teenagers for another journey to crater-land.

172 Hours On the Moon by Johan Harstad (Atom, Rs 589) takes the reader on a ride rife with possibilities. Antoine, Midori and Mia are the “lucky” three. But they all have their own reasons for accepting the invitation. Antoine from France wants to escape his ex-girlfriend, Midori hates her life in Tokyo and dreams of living in New York, Mia from Norway thinks of the expedition as the ticket to fame for her small-time punk band.

As the youngsters undergo training to survive on the moon, the reader realises that there’s no coming back from Darlah 2, the lunar base. Because the mystery why the previous team didn’t return wasn’t solved and the same fate awaits the teenaged trio. Why then did NASA plan this journey? Why was the truth about the last space trip not uncovered? What is wrong with Darlah?

Harstad, a Norwegian short-story writer, novelist and playwright, tells this pacy story with chilling thrills. Written in 2008 and titled Darlah, the Norwegian sci-fi story is set in 2012 and has been translated and re-released a few weeks back as 172 Hours On the Moon.

Here’s good news for all those aspiring authors out there. Westland Publishers, which gave us bestsellers like Amish’s Shiva Trilogy, Rujuta Diwekar’s Women & the Weight Loss Tamasha and more, has joined hands with children’s author Anushka Ravishankar and children’s publisher Sayoni Basu to form Duckbill, a publishing house exclusively for children and young adults. Publishing is set to start from end-2012 and will cater to kids of six years and above. The house plans to focus mainly on fiction and aims to churn out 25 titles a year.




A Kindle e-reader with light might be available as soon as July. Since the E Ink screens of the popular e-reader are not backlit like LCDs, users have had to buy an external light to read in the dark. Amazon was expected to come up with a Kindle with light even before its main competitor in the e-reader market, Barnes and Noble, launched a model of Nook with in-built light last month. A Reuters source, who has seen the prototype of Kindle with light, told the news agency that the new model would either cost the same as now or a little more. The buzz is that the screen will continue to remain black-and-white.


One homicide detective, one reporter, one medical examiner, one district attorney — four ingredients to stir up the perfect murder mystery! But wait, it’s not just one mystery but 10 books that have the same combination and yet readers can’t seem to have enough. Evidence 1: the author has the maximum number of New York Times bestsellers, says the Guinness World Records.

That author is James Patterson and he is back with his 11th in the Women’s Murder Club series, titled — quite fittingly — 11th Hour (Century, Rs 550).

Co-authored with Maxine Paetro, 11th Hour has Detective Lindsay Boxer investigating severed heads found in a movie star’s garden, a murder weapon linking the deaths of untouchable crime lords of the city’s underbelly and a reporter sniffing at the detective’s personal life. All this when Lindsay is finally pregnant!

Patterson, who is particularly known for his Alex Cross series, quit his advertising job to pen thrillers, romantic novellas and children’s books. One of his pet projects is encouraging the reading habit among children, for which he has launched, which has book summaries and reviews by various children’s authors to guide parents as well as kids.

Bookworm approves.


Barack Obama: The Making of the Man (Atlantic Books,

Rs 799) by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and modern historian David Maraniss (picture above left), brings to the readers one of the most eagerly awaited biographies about the man who became the first “coloured” President of the United States — Barack Obama. Based on interviews, letters, journals, diaries and other documents, the book explores the roots of the current occupant of the White House. Starting in the small towns of Kansas and remote villages of Kenya, the narrative traces Obama’s almost unbelievable journey, especially as he tries to make sense of his past while establishing his own identity and preparing for his political future. Barack Obama: The Making of the Man will be released on June 1.