Quickies: The White Tiger & The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Publisher/Year: Tantor Media, 2008
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library

What it is: A novel revolving around Balram Halwai, a successful entrepreneur who was able to establish himself even though he came from humble means. He finds work as a chauffeur for a wealthy family, which provides an enlightening peek into the servants’ world. Looking back on his journey to the top, Balram coolly recounts the cutthroat steps he took to get to where he is.

Why I listened to it: Curiosity, plus I’d like to work my way through the Booker winners.

What I thought: I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think I’d like the book at first; my mind kept wandering and it was hard for me to concentrate. After the first chapter or two, I couldn’t wait to hear what happened next. Balram is dark and sarcastic. He’s a conceited country bumpkin (or “Country-Mouse,” as he’s called) who is fiercely intelligent. He also has a mean sense of humor, and I couldn’t help rooting for him. The book basks in the greedy, caste-driven underbelly of India, and I loved every minute of it. I also thought John Lee, the audiobook narrator, did a great job.

If this book were a beverage, it would be: A cup of strong, black coffee–slowly sipped with proper etiquette, of course.

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

Publisher/Year: Anchor, 1999
Format: Print
Source: Purchase

What it is: A collection of strange short stories.

Why I read it: I love Aimee Bender and think short stories are her strong suit.

What I thought: Like most short story collections, some stories were stronger than others. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I think the first story, “The Rememberer,” was my favorite. It’s about a woman whose lover is experiencing reverse evolution (I shared the fantastic first paragraph here). Another favorite of mine was “Quiet Please,” about a librarian who sleeps with every male patron in the back room of the library. It’s like Bender takes “normal” narratives, changes one or two things about them, and skews everything so that they’re off-the-wall but still strangely realistic.

If this book were a food, it would be: Chocolate chipotle gelato (which I actually have tasted): sweetly smooth taste at the beginning that tapers off into a spicy, slightly funky–but not unpleasant–lingering aftertaste at the end.

4 thoughts on “Quickies: The White Tiger & The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

  1. I only moderately enjoyed The White Tiger, glad to hear you liked it more! Also, the short story collection sounds really interesting and different!

  2. The short story collection sounds more interesting than the Tiger book. I’ve never read any Bender, so maybe this one is a good one to start with. Thanks!

  3. Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I was taken by your top ten and decided to peruse your blog. Firstly I had a rather different reaction to The White Tiger, but more importantly I’m trying to put together a Booker clearinghouse for reviews/reading list/blog/thing for other people who are thinking about reading down the list. I hate to self-promote but wanted to let you know – the lead-in post is here: http://whatkatesreading.blogspot.com/2011/07/dogs-and-announcement-in-exercise-of.html
    But I buried the lead at the bottom, fyi.

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