Favourite Lines: ‘Exit West’ by Mohsin Hamid

Dear readers,

Isn’t it a beautiful moment when you read the first line of a book and connect with it instantly? I recently started reading Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, and within the first line, it somehow found its way onto my list of favourite books.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Exit West is the kind of book I can’t help but read as a writer more than a reader, admiring each carefully constructed sentence. Today I thought I would share with you a couple of my favourite lines, starting with the opening line.

 

In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in class and did not speak to her.

– page 1

 

The following evening helicopters filled the sky like birds startled after a gunshot, or by the blow of an axe on the base of their tree.

– page 32

 

One’s relationship to windows now changed in the city.

– page 68

 

…but that is the way of things, for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.

– page 94

 

If you haven’t read Exit West, I strongly urge you to go pick up a copy! What are you reading at the moment? Please let me know in the comments below–I’m always looking for suggestions.

As always, thank you for being here.

Yours,

Tamara Drazic

Spinebind Issue #4 Released

Hi everyone,

Wow, it has been a busy week, but as always, totally worth it. Issue #4 of Spinebind Magazine went out into the world today, and I feel like a mother waving good-bye to her child on the first day of school. I’ve done my job, it’s now out of my hands, and if I find a spelling mistake, there’s not much I can do about it. Scary stuff.

Today has been packed with final proofreading, final final proofreading, uploading, trying to figure out why it’s not uploading, re-uploading, blogging, and emailing emailing emailing. I’ve also just finished a couple of hours of freelance writing work, and a quick Pilates session. I definitely need to make good use of this productive mood. I’m forever trying to figure out a way to make it last for longer than a day or two!

Anyway, for now I think I’m going to give myself a break with a cup of tea, away from my email inbox. Then, hopefully still in a productive mood, I’m going to sit down and write some more.

If you’re interested in purchasing a print copy of Spinebind, follow the link below:

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1225672

If you’re a bit of a minimalist who doesn’t want any extra stuff, you can download the PDF for free here: issue-4

I hope everyone is having a great and productive day!

All the best,

Tamara

Book Review: “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan

a-visit-from-the-goon-squad

Think old school rock n’ roll. Think corrupt music industries, secrets, bands, friendships, family relationships, and the strange interconnectedness that music brings us. “A Visit From the Goon Squad” is best served in an off-beat laneway cafè with a side of soft electric guitar.

I haven’t read many books that have affected me quite like “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan did. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest that you go out and pick up a copy right now. If I had to say what the book is about, I’d say it’s a satire on the music industry, but there is so much more to it than that. It reads almost like a collection of short stories; I’d heard about this before I started reading it, and it kind of put me off. I love reading individual short stories, but the thought of reading a whole collection back to back kind of exhausts me. Despite this, I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m so glad I did.

Each of the segments pretty much stands alone. So much so that the opening story, “Found Objects”, was published in The New Yorker as a short story back in 2008. When you read the book all the way through however, it really does feel like a novel. The stories interweave in just the right way – not too much, not too little. The crossovers are hidden in the minor characters, as the individual stories slowly reveal each character’s backstory until you realise how they’re all connected.

The book starts out following Sasha, a kleptomaniac who works for Bennie, a music producer. The subsequent story is then told from the point of view of Bennie, and so begins an intricate web of character relationships that spans years into the past and future, all the way until the epic, spec-fic ending. I’ve never come across a novel that brings together different genres into a literary work so flawlessly.

“A Visit From the Goon Squad” has a kind of melancholic, almost doomsday mood to it, but this is balanced out by the sharp humour and truly believable and lovable characters. The characterisation is so subtle but so precise, and when I finished reading the last page I felt like I’d lost touch with my childhood friends.

If you like stories about artists, families, music, and human nature, you should definitely add “A Visit From the Good Squad” to your to-read list.

Yours Sincerely,

Tamara Drazic