If I like a book, really, really, really like it, then my clock will cease to exist until I have gleaned every word from its pages. If I don’t read a book in one sitting, it might mean that I am not engrossed in it as much. Often, that means putting everything on hold other than what is most urgent. As a teen during holidays, urgent meant bathroom breaks. Breakfast, lunch and dinner could be had with nose stuck between the fast turning pages of a fabulous book. Think Sydney Sheldon, think M.M Kaye – one of my favorite authors. Think Eric Segal or Danielle Steele (then yes, now, not so much).
It’s not much different today. Of course, the breaks have lengthened – now it’s bathroom breaks and every-other-room-cleaning break plus the regular chore breaks and of course the kitchen breaks. More on that later.
All that means my clock starts and stops at the most inconvenient of times.So I could be reading a book and then looking up at the clock to find it is 4 am in the morning. In other words, I just spent the entire night sitting, engrossed in a book so engaging that sleep – the most beautiful companion of all – was forgotten. Possibly because now that is the only time when I can still make do with only bathroom breaks to interrupt my journey with characters I am currently obsessed with.
Khalid Hosseini’s “And the mountains echoed” is one such book in recent times. I am a big fan of Mr Hosseini. His earlier works – ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ are master pieces, that have lyrical prose from a born storyteller. Mr Hosseini is one of the most insightful writers in modern times. He has the capability to elegantly capture the essence of a situation in its entirety. He also has a gift of presenting both positive and negative viewpoints with exceptional emotional clarity and infinite sensitivity. Often times, his characters are morally ambiguous. There can be a little boy who is mean to the point of being vicious, only to spend rest of his life trying to find redemption. There can be a little girl who inflicts unimaginable horror on her sister only to sacrifice her entire life for the same sibling, and yet at the end making a choice that you can’t blame her for, even while knowing how reprehensible it is. You smile when they are happy, your heart palpitates when they are in trouble, your insides breaks when they are hurt, you cry when they are helpless, you hope when they look out of the window of a locked room in hopes of a better tomorrow. Sometimes their choices are ugly, and yet you can’t smother them with hate, because somewhere underneath all that devastation lies the prospect of a beautiful blessing.
“And the Mountains echoed” does not disappoint. In parts, it transcends genius.“Cruelty and benevolence are but shades of the same color”, says a character who is supposed to be malevolent and morally bankrupt. Showcasing human fallibility with devastating details, it’s magnificently thought provoking and emotionally enriching. Khalid Hosseini captivates imagination with his enticing tale of blood-ties, love, betrayal, jealousy, sacrifice, longing, greatness, pettiness, redemption, in every possible way imaginable. He manages to blur the line between black and white with so much ingenuity that you are left wondering if you are the one who has a grey soul.
However, I must say it does not match the brilliance of his previous two books as far the story itself goes. Personally, I feel the story meanders a lot, and while I understand that it is intentional, still I feel it takes away some of the sheen that radiates from first 100 pages of this book. Maybe it needed another 500 pages, or maybe a few less characters? Also, while the ending is poignant, it does make you want for more resolution, of a longing that if only life could be more fair. But it does stand on its own as a triumph of story telling. What I love about Mr Hosseini’s way of writing is that he makes it look so simple, so soft, almost magical in its eloquence. There is no heaviness of words, no difficult paragraphs to navigate through. You feel transported to times when storytelling was all about sitting on hunches in a cluster listening to a storyteller weaving magic with words with animated features and exaggerated gestures. Yet, it’s profound and terrifyingly real without any nonsensical psychobabble.
It is a must read. I pre-ordered the hard cover edition, and I don’t regret it. This one is for keeps. And also to be read in one sitting. If you like stories that run deep and characters that sneak inside your heart forever, pick this book up.
Now, reading in one sitting involves taking ‘breaks’ from the ‘urgent breaks’ that life needs of you. During my teen years, Mom cooked while I read. Now I cook while my teen reads. Now what if I also need to read…who cooks?
My Crock-Pot!! That’s who. You gotta love your crock-pot at such times. This lamb recipe is just perfect for a meal that pretty much cooks on its own. Mix in some herbs and spices,throw it in, take it out and devour with some fresh bread. Divine!!!
And if I can say so myself, looks pretty glamorous too!!
- 2 racks of lamb short ribs ( or enough for 4 people)
- 1 tbsp red chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 2 habanero peppers (optional)
- 1 tbsp butter melted
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black peppers
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds roasted and coarsely pounded
- salt to taste
- Reserve 1 tbsp of garlic, few mint leaves and butter for later.
- Mix the lamb ribs with rest of the ingredients.
- Transfer the ribs in the crock-pot.
- Cook on high for ½ hour.
- Turn the crock-pot on low and cook for 3 hours.
- Heat the butter and fry the reserved 1 tbsp of garlic.
- Add the garlic butter to cooked ribs.
- Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
- Serve with a crusty bread like Sourdough or Scala or any other bread of your choice.
TheLady8home’s Note: This is not a paid or a sponsored review. All opinions are of my own and shared on good faith.