Briefings: Total Recall
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Simon and Schuster
The Hasta la Vista Hero
Arnold Schwarzenegger's "unbelievable true life story" can be read in two ways. The obvious way is to treat it like a book of inspiration — an Austrian farm boy born in the year of a famine comes to America to become the biggest bodybuilding sensation, evolves into a movie star, marries a Kennedy and is elected the governor of California. But so much has already been documented about the "Austrian oak" that reading his autobiography this way is like replaying what journalists, filmmakers and rumour-mongers have long said about him.
To appreciate and enjoy Schwarzenegger's story, we need to read Total Recall as if it were a Greek tragedy (the pictures of him posing against the Malibu ridges will help, if you fall short of imagination). Like Achilles he was born for great things and was relentless in his pursuit. Like every Greek tragic hero, he also had a weakness. He got into bodybuilding because he "was definitely inspired" by Kurt Marnul, a local bodybuilder who "came to the lake often with the most fantastic girls". Finally, at 65, his fall comes in the form of infidelity. But Schwarzenegger doesn't wish to be remembered as a fallen hero. Even as his divorce was going forward (at the time he was writing his autobiography), he said, "I am optimistic that we will come together again." His last words are reminiscent of the brutally battered Terminator saying, "I'll be back."
Sin is a Puppy That Follows you Home
Balaraba Ramat Yakubu
Tr from Hausa by
Bollywood in Abuja
Sin Is a Puppy That Follows You Home might possibly be the first Hausa (a Chadic language) novel to be translated into English, but it deals with themes all too familiar to us. It reads like a Hindi soap opera, complete with errant husbands, weeping wives, marriages, divine intervention and ultimate atonement. The masala plot of the novel is clearly inspired by Bollywood.