Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Review: Brahma Dreaming

Namaste readers - as promised, here is my book review of Brahma Dreaming, the new graphic novel (of sorts) by author John Jackson and illustrator Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, published by JJ Books.

First off, to better explain the book: it is a collection of Hindu mythology, interpreted through the lens of the author, John Jackson. Therefore the tales within the book are not original creations, as they are mythological tales as old as Hinduism. They are, however, original interpretations, though at this time I couldn't find what Mr. Jackson used as his original source. Being interpreted through a Western lens such as Mr. Jackson's indeed makes these tales easier reading for a Western audience (such as myself). However, as is almost always the case with when tales cross cultures in this manner, some of the authenticity is lost. For many Western readers this won't be that big of an issue, but the reason why it is an issue in the first place is because interpretations can be inconsistent across sources - the events told in Mr. Jackson's versions of the tales here may have things happen differently than the original mythological tales, for one, but it can differ also across different versions of the retelling.

If you're just getting started reading Hindu mythology, however, you could do far worse than Mr. Jackson's versions in Brahma Dreaming. The tales are told with lively prose, great pacing, and a method of organization that warrants reading the book from cover to cover. The organization of the tales is of note here because they are sorted into three categories, "Tales of Creation," "Tales of Destruction," and "Tales of Preservation." These are concurrent with the three main gods of Hinduism, Lords Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, so the tales being sorted into these categories does a lot to help newcomers to Hindu mythology understand not only the chronology of these tales, but their importance. One thing some readers learned in Hindu mythology may gripe over, however, is the length of some of these tales in the book; some of the tales covered in Brahma Dreaming, most notably the tales based on the great Hindu epics the Ramayana and Mahabharata, are covered only briefly. However, the most important parts of the two aforementioned epics are covered, for rest assured those two epics are long, and a book like Brahma Dreaming couldn't do those epics justice without devoting multiple volumes to it. Think of the tales of Brahma Dreaming as trailers for movies - their purpose is to get readers interested in Hindu mythology, not be exact replicas of the original tales. If you read Brahma Dreaming, you will be interested to find out more about Hindu mythology.

Of course, part of what makes Brahma Dreaming so special as an introduction to Hindu mythology are the illustrations by Ms. Terrazzini. These illustrations are meant to be interpretations of Hindu mythological scenes rendered in the style of the "Golden Age" of graphic printing in Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To say these are striking illustrations is an understatement, and in this case it's a good thing. The illustrations are definitely a unique spin on what pictorial interpretations of scenes in Hindu mythology have traditionally been like, and they are quite beautiful. It's important to note that these illustrations are black and white, with the occasional splash or highlight of color - those who have read Frank Miller's Sin City comic book series may find parallels.

Overall, Brahma Dreaming serves as a great introduction to Hindu mythology for those interested in it. While it's not comprehensive by any stretch, it does enough to stoke curiosity in its readers to uncover more about these great stories. Brahma Dreaming is available in both hardback and eBook editions.

Brahma Dreaming
By John Jackson 
Illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini
Published by JJ Books
RRP: UK £3.99/US $5.99 

ISBN: 978-0-9569212-8-4

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another Special Request (Or Rather, the Same One Reopened)

Namaste, readers!

Some of you may remember back in the summer of this year, when I made a fundraiser on to help me with going to an Art of Living course hosted by the Art of Living's spiritual leader, H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (a.k.a. Guruji amongst Art of Living devotees). That fundraiser was not successful, some of you may also recall. But that doesn't mean I can't try again, especially when another opportunity like it presents itself.

In the second-to-last week of December (i.e. the week of Christmas), Guruji is hosting another course in the Boone, NC ashram. And again, in order to attend and benefit from his teachings, I will need help. So that's why I've reopened the fundraiser!

The fundraiser is still set for its previous goal, which I know may be high, but in addition to the course fee, there's lodging and travel. Still, if you're generous enough to invest in my spiritual future, I would appreciate it. And if you can't donate, that's okay - spread the word instead, there might be someone else you know who can!

Anyway, the fundraiser in question is right here:

Jai Gurudev!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dreaming Big

Namaste readers! I have some big news for you today. It's not just a dream, it's a reality - I have been approached by JJ Books, based in London in the UK, to cover the release of their upcoming hardback book, Brahma Dreaming.

Written by John Jackson, Brahma Dreaming is essentially a graphic novel of sorts - it's a collection of tales of ancient Hindu mythology (of course as seen through the lens of the author), accompanied by many black-and-white illustrations of selected scenes from these tales. (The illustrator is Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, by the way, if that rings a bell for anyone.) I will be doing a review of this book, so expect that next post. In the meantime, my first impressions of the book are quite positive from what I've read and seen so far!

This is a big moment for me, because this is the first time I've been approached by any publishing company, be they big or small, national or international, to cover one of their books. They approached me first; I had no idea this even existed until they emailed me about it! I never knew my blog would reach that far and wide and be that well received!

Needless to say, I'm excited, and I hope this is a sign of other good things to come for this blog. I may just be hitting the big time! (Well...a bigger time than previously, anyway.)

Again, anticipate a review of this book next post!

Monday, November 4, 2013

To Seek Out New Life

Namaste fine readers. I want to get to know some of you a bit better. I know it's a question I have asked before, to know more about my readers, but I'm trying to fight against my own personal isolation. This isolation is not self-imposed...rather, it comes from a combination of factors, most of which are outside of my control - my inability to afford a car, my social anxiety, etc. Sure, there's the local temple, but again due to lack of said car it's hard for me to get there.

So call it me wanting to seek out new life, or whatever, but I want to talk to the Hindus (or otherwise) who read this blog. Some of you I have encountered already, at least online, but feel free to speak up again if you wish. I'm just going a little stir crazy and need to know I'm not alone...well, I know I'm not. Maybe affirm is the better word.

Please tell me about yourselves!