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Ever wondered what the world would be like if the tortoise never won the race with the hare? Who ever heard the hare's side of the story? Who's to say he wasn't drugged by the tortoise - was foul play involved? Well, whatever might have been the consequences, the world couldn't have turned out any worse than it did. In any case, today we bring you a different perspective of stories we were led to believe as children. Here's the victim's side of the story.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf
“You know when they say that jokers are never happy people - they are right. They walk on their hands, fall on their behinds, and make a fool out of themselves - all to make you smile. And after that, he gets meagre payment and a crappy trailer to live in. I tried to make people laugh once. They were hardworking people with nothing but more work to look forward to. They were sad and I was a naïve child. I cried wolf - gave them an adrenaline rush. After all, a sense of humour is always appreciated right? Wrong. Not only did they not get the joke - they left me in my time of need. And to top it off, I hear they spread the word that I lied. No empathy, no consolations. They mock me and twist my story to suit their need to spread morals. Here's the real moral of the story - Leave uptight people with no sense of humour be.”

The boy who cried wolf now lives under a different name - his misanthropic views are a cause of alarm to his surroundings. He writes for the RS trying to find the last trace of humour left in this world, demanding people make him laugh.

The Ant and the Grasshopper
“It was never about hard work you know. You think us grasshoppers can't work? We have six strong legs and we certainly are not lazy (remember the locusts anyone?). I was the victim of treachery - the ants tricked me. It is a well known fact that ants are not very strong creatures - we were supposed to be their protectors (don't believe A Bug's Life) and they in turn would supply our rations. Isn't that a cute deal? Oh, I was so stupid, believing them. Not only did they not keep their promise - their propaganda machine (yes, believe me they do have a propaganda minister and everything) spread a rumour that I sang all summer and as a result had no food! Oh, the shame! I was ostracised from the insect community and left to starve. Everyone believed them. Nobody helped me - where were the loud talking altruistic savers of the world with their humanitarian (insectarian?) aids. I barely survived. Damn those little stinging beasts! Moral of the story never trust those vicious ants.”

After Somerset Maugham took up the cause for the grasshopper in his short story, things improved. Grasshopper sadly couldn't go back to the insect community after the scandal and now works for the RS amid other weird creatures.

The Witch from Hansel and Gretel
“The world is cruel and harsh. I hear they call me the old, blind, wicked witch nowadays? If only they knew. Sure (sarcasm?) blame me! Those little brats' parents had nothing to do with it. Sending out their kids to go out into the forest so that they had more food for themselves! Perfect role model parents if you ask me! And the children - oh such angels! Greedy little brats - ate the top of my gingerbread house! Do I get compensation? I took pity on those kids - tried to fatten up one and gave the girl a job with food and a place to stay. And how do they thank me? I wanted to eat them - after all, what was left for them in this world? But nooo - they refuse to be food - ungrateful little devils. They push a blind old lady into the stove just because I ask Gretel to check if the fire is hot enough! I tell you the world isn't fair.”

Following the scandal, the witch changed her appearance and charmed her way into the RS. (Seriously! RS needs to look places other than fables for recruits!) With her disarming smile and excessively cute face she is a terror among her colleagues (read yours truly). Her devilish smile and glare is all that stops me from blurting out the name she uses now.

By Moyukh Mahtab



The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Once every few years or so, the world of fiction gives us a heroine; a powerful, iconic female character that girls can look up to. The 30's had their Nancy Drew. The 90's had their Buffy the Vampire Slayer. By the looks of things, Lisbeth Salander from the late Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy might soon join the ranks of these formidable women.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first of three unpublished novels left behind by the Swedish author and liberal journalist. They were published posthumously and subsequently became international best-sellers.

The story opens with Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of the celebrated socio-political magazine Millennium, who loses a libel case against a Swedish industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström, as a result of which, he is sentenced to three months in prison. This case causes quite a stir, and generates interest in the disgraced journalist from unexpected quarters.

While Blomkvist is licking his wounds, he receives a rather baffling offer from another retired billionaire, Henrik Vanger, a recluse who lives in the island of Hedeby. The assignment ostensibly involves researching and chronicling the extensive Vanger family history, but Blomkvist's new employer also has an ulterior motive: he wants the journalist, famed for his keen investigative skills, to try and solve the mystery behind the disappearance of Vanger's favourite niece, Harriet. Along with a generous fee, Blomkvist is offered a carrot he cannot refuse - an opportunity for payback against Wennerström.

Blomkvist accepts and moves into Hedeby, and begins work on the novel. When he makes an unexpected breakthrough in the Harriet Vanger case, he enlists the help of a researcher named Lisbeth Salander. Salander had previously been hired by Henrik Vanger to conduct a thorough background check on Blomkvist, and the journalist guesses the secret behind her uncanny ability to dig up secrets: she is a hacker par excellence.

The story takes some time to delve into Salander's profile, seeing as how she is the titular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Pierced, tattooed, anorexic-looking and exotic, she looks more like a gothic pixie than the brilliant security analyst that she is. Committed to an asylum at an early age, and then released into the custody of legal guardians, one of whom sadistically abuses her, she is mistrustful of authority figures, and notoriously difficult to get along with.

Hooked by the irresistable lure of the mystery that is unravelling under their united efforts, Salander and Blomkvist team up on the Vanger case, and end up with a lot more danger than they bargained for. That's all this review will reveal about the plot, so you'll have to read the book to find out.

A word of caution, though. This is not a read for the casual reader, for a number of reasons. Even if you're able to handle the graphic violence that crops up at fairly regular intervals, there's a lot of legal background and character profiling in this rather fat volume that might put off someone not interested in the intellectual details of the cases. Also, the blatantly Liberal mindset of the author might clash with any reader who has a strong and differing set of values. Nonetheless, if you can wade through all of that, the payoff is well worth it. A compelling plot, intelligent characters are just some of the merits of this book.

And the best part? It keeps getting better.

By Sabrina F Ahmad
sabrina.ahmad@thedailystar.net

 
 

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