Without A Clue: Five Little Pigs

The title here slyly refers to the fact that this writer has little or no clue about writing about books, the title also miraculously achieves in telling something about Christie’s enduring detective Poirot: who literally solves the case without a clue.

Readers who sink into the detective novel expecting it to be a puzzle that needs solving would find all the elements that Christie usually puts in, few over enthusiastic readers might even guess before the ending.

But I think Five Little Pigs is much more than the classic crime novel, yes it does involve a murder and a list of suspects, each of whom with many an intention to commit and of course a meticulous detective looking for clues. Only there isn’t one because the murder happened decades ago.

This conceit is hardly new and adds to the ‘puzzle’ nature of the novel; but I see it as a statement that a crime novel by itself is not about the crime but about people.

Let’s also get it out of the way that Christie wrote this during the height of human emotions: the second world war and makes not even a passing reference to it, the murder happens of course in the method of her choice: poisoning.

Playing ‘what’s your poison?’ with Christie would have been difficult, she had so many favorites, in Five Little Pigs it is coniine.

Maybe the oppression of the time is manifested in the deeply oppressed relationships that the characters share among themselves.

Returning to the ‘puzzle’ nature of the mystery novel which treats characters as clues or just things with name and a coat (Christie herself has been accused of not treating her characters with character), in contrast she creates the strongest set of female characters in FLP.

Women who are not afraid to speak out, women who realize that they are being played and willing to play, willing to kill for another and ultimately prove that they are the better race on earth by taking the fall in sacrifice.

Yes this is Hercule Poirot novel only, and he is tasked with piecing together the narratives, something like a Virumandi or Rashomon; a unique feature of the novel for which it is also remembered.

Christie also usually makes up for the lack of emotions in her character with the persona of Poirot, something again that doesn’t happen in this novel.

Here is more of an observer, not a resolver. Hence a novel, not a puzzle.




The startling story of one boy and a mammoth task along with 52 books

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George RR Martin

<This project was originally called Man vs Wilde, but apart from my own stupid giggles, it wouldn’t have made much sense>

There is a scene, in fact the very opening scene of the Tamil movie Iru Kodugal (Two Lines) which effectively tries to explain the context of the title. When you have a line, how do you shorten it without touching it?

<Think one minute>

Draw another line adjacent to it, but longer than the existing one.

Simple, not CAT level and all.

Ok, why did I make a reference now, because the whole point of enrolling in a book challenge is to make an existing problem of mine look smaller than the challenge I am about to attempt.

The existing problem of course is the MBA, which will work itself out. <Hopes>

Now let’s get back to the book challenge.

In the beginning of every year, people try and take these book challenges, I have been taking them too, only never even coming close to achieving even half of what I thought I would read the entire year.


Because 1) I don’t believe in numbers

2) I am quite lazy

3) There are a million other distractions

4) All of the above

All of the above is clearly the answer. Yes, I still think the number of books one reads over a year do not really matter unless of course you are reading something, the act is essential and not the returns.

But wait, I am 25 and the fact that I am inadequately educated and non-conforming to current systems have driven me to a position that my only source for goodness and redemption is through books and all through never having taken up a challenge in life is another driving factor.

You can consider this weekly blog to be something of a self-public shaming, I will of course put up the books I am reading and extent to which I have read them. Truthfully, I promise.


It will be battle-like, every week I will have to fight against boredom, distractions and procrastination to set some time for reading.

I hope you will join me on this quest (ah! A quest!), along with me is my trusted companion and friend, the Kindle.

I am not afraid to fail publicly, but then I will try not to.

<Inappropriate joke alert>

Sherlock Holmes: “A task is at hand, Watson!!!”

Watson: Which hand?

<Inappropriate joke ends>

That reminds me, one week is already gone this year.

You can tell me what you are reading too, or you can make fun of my choice of books, you can do whatever. Thanks


Masters of the Word: How Media Shaped History

2% complete

The house of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes novel

8% complete

See you next Thursday, 51 weeks to go.

Also, this is what one guy said it is possible go about this maddening task.




Roger Ebert.com is the internet’s equivalent of a cavernous traveller’s place that wanderers happen to chance on an unending quest, although in my case it wasn’t a chance finding but more of a destination.

For a year or so(years ago), I’ve thought and rethought about writing to the Far Flung Correspondents column, backspaced paragraphs of introduction now only vaguely remembered by an embarrassed self, deep down I knew that primarily the writings would not be accepted because they simply weren’t good and I had to improve enormously, the reason to be part of the Lowly Laureate is I guess a compromise and an acceptance of mediocrity.

But ever since sheepishly I had tried to ‘tweet’ the articles of that we published to Ebert with half hope that he will read it and half hope he never does, this was till the day of his passing in 2013.

Idols is a kind of distancing word, an un-achievable state, close to ideal perhaps; Roger Ebert was not my idol, I could see that one man can have all the fun in the world by just watching movies and this was the time when I was just watching movies and not having fun.

If there has been some amount of clarity in what we write right now here, is entirely because we know that we are thereabouts and it is quite possible to pursue something wildly. If Ebert had been an idol, our blog wouldn’t have come out.

Although having never met the man or corresponded with him, it is possible for me to imagine how an interaction would have been, it is experienced-smiley uncle vibe that comes out not only in his videos but pervades all through his writings.  Roger Ebert was a great writer, my definition of a great writer would therefore be not to put thrust too much of oneself into one’s words but not being completely absent, even a bad movie review would only reflect the passion he had for writing what he had seen.

Roger Ebert was the hardest working movie critic on the planet even when diagnosed with a terminal disease and the only person to have successfully found a balance between the serious movie critic and the fun movie reviewer on TV.

Life Itself, his memoir or the reason behind this blog post captures that balance to the truest, it is impossible to approach different films with the same amount of seriousness but it possible but still difficult to watch all types of films with the same passion.

Movie reviewing at the end of the day becomes like suggestion generator, what to catch and what to miss, that is not we are interested in; a (any) movie that should lend itself to discussion or in a sense opens your mind about something is a great film, how the film was made/acted/technicalities are perhaps secondary or mostly irrelevant, to see through all these and arrive at the core idea of what a movie really wants to say to you.( the idea might not be singular and open to interpretations).

But mostly things covered in reviews are these secondaries which are quite evident for anyone to see and seriously not a reason for anyone to see a film or not, this is mostly what we try and avoid at our blogs.

We still feel that this is achievable but we have a long way to go. It is also not the motive to be an ‘influential’ blog, we just want to be well informed and well written. I

Influential being the guiding word in these social media times.

Odd it now seems that once you read a memoir of a person that you get to know his entire life, it is still better than reading an overview on Wikipedia and it will be the closest that we would be getting to Ebert himself and the book is a revelation.

Not only can he not write a bad sentence but he is also brutally honest as people tend to become in their twilight, the chapters on his friendship with Siskel notably among the best.

Multiple emotions rush out after a film, it is in translation of these emotions into words without having to apply intellect in-between is the greatest achievement of the movie writer as how it is for the director to bring the word onto the screen, and this is a beautiful process: emotion->word->screen->emotion->word and somehow Ebert has cracked that.

It is highly impossible to see so many movies and not have anything to say about it, most of the best conversations that I have had have been in and about the movies and these discussions never contain themselves to first level opinions but more of a learning process.

Maybe life is just one big movie and probably Ebert’s memoir is one of the best reviews around.

See you at the movies.