Friday, 12 January 2018

Carthick's Unfairy Tales - Book Review

As a child I loved fairy tales. As I became an adult I started thinking over those tales. The flaws were apparent. The good people were always fair and beautiful, while the evil ought to be dark and ugly. The sole aim of the heroine's life was to win the heart of the prince. The tales were fatalist and some where even downright sadistic. Do we wish to tell such tales to our children? Certainly not.

Against this backdrop Carthick's Unfairy Tales comes as a bright change. This collection is a retelling of seven tales. To be honest out of the seven I had heard only three that of Cinderella, Pipe Piper and the frog prince. So the rest of the stories were brand new for me.

I really liked the way the author has shaped up the Frog Prince's story. He gives the Princess a spine. She comes across as a strong woman who can make intelligent choices and whose aim is certainly not marrying a man only because he is a prince (read rich and powerful in the modern connotation). I am sure I will be more than happy to tell such a tale to my toddler. Undoubtedly this is the best story in the collection.

These stories are told in unique voices. While the rat's narrative works well in the Cinderella's story, some voices appear inorganic, like a patch work just to sound something different. Also the Pipe Piper's story offers nothing new. Its just the same old story. With Cindrella and the Frog Prince the author had raise expectations. I wish there was a novelty in other stories as well.

What I liked about the book is that the writing is clean, the editing is superb. The author succeeds in maintaining a pace. The stories are of appropriate length. They are neither too short nor too long to lose attention span of the reader.

Carthick's Unfairy Tales is a unique book and you should not miss it.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Some Stories

I am glad that I came across her writings. 
M S Manaswi enchants you with her tales.

Hundred Flames of Injustice

 “Mama, Sarang got a second serving of the ice-cream and when I and Rashmi went to ask for it, we were told that the ice-cream is over. This is unfair.” Hearing this from my mouth, my aunt cuddled me and said, “Don't worry my child I will get you some more ice-cream when I go to the market in the evening.” I was just five year old then and the flame of justice had kindled in me.

Mama, aunt Ruhi sends Sarang to an English medium school because he is a boy and she sends Rashmi to a Marathi medium school because she is a girl. This is wrong.” No moment had I uttered these lines as a fifth grade student, my aunt thundered. “You shouldn't poke your nose when adults are speaking.”
But what is wrong with what I am saying.” I asked. At this moment my mother pulled me a little aside and asked me to keep quiet.

My aunt then turned her words towards my docile mother. “It is all because of you that he was become so arrogant. Look at the way he is speaking. See our children, they never back answer the adults. You have given him too much of liberties and spoilt him.” My words had hit my aunt at the place where it hurt the most.

I never understood what was wrong with what I said. But slowly people had started branding me as an arrogant, argumentative boy who back answered adults.

That day when the teacher had distributed assessed answer sheets of science, I noticed that me as well as my friend had written exactly the same answer for a particular question. But while the teacher had assigned me only four out of five, my friend had scored five on five. I took both the answer sheets to the teacher and brought it to her notice, very humbly, very politely. Still that enraged the teacher, and my reputation of being arrogant and argumentative travelled beyond my family up to my school.

I could never tolerate injustice. My blood would boil and I would raise my voice against it. I was right, but my age wasn't. “When elders commit mistake, we don't call it mistake.” My mother had told me once. But I simply could not understand the logic behind it. “Isn't law the same for everyone? How can the same act not be a mistake merely because the person doing it is an adult.” My mother had no answers to my logic.

My life was turning miserable. On one hand I couldn't handle injustice and on another when I protested against it, I was called arrogant.

Then one day I got a loving teacher as my class teacher. Her name was Mrs. Apte. She loved me like her own son. Rather she loved all children like her own. She understood my predicament. One day she told me. “Logic and reasoning are not everybody's cup of tea. You are blessed with it. Put it to better use. I am sure you will be a firebrand lawyer one day.” Until then I wanted to be a doctor. But those words of Mrs. Apte ignited another flame in me. I had never thought that these qualities in me which were branded as bad by others were in fact skills.

I took up law and my life changed 360 degrees. I was appreciated for my keen acumen. My argumentative nature was now termed as my good reasoning skills. I topped the examinations and won all the debate and moot court competitions. My name started appearing in the newspapers. Now all those detractors, including my relatives and school teachers started appreciating me for my skills. #AhundredLittleFlames made me into the person who stands for justice and equality.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Woman who Saw the Future

The Woman who Saw the Future by Amit Sharma is a riveting original story told in a flawless manner. This is the story of Sapna, who gets premonitions about death. All this starts after the accidental death of her brother Vikrant. Initially the family still coping with Vikrant's loss is shaken with Sapna's nightmares. All those who die in Sapna's dreams soon die. She is helpless and in spite of the support of her parents and boyfriend Sahil she is on the verge of depression. Then one day Sapna discovers that she can save people from dying by alerting them. But one premonition changes her life forever. The game soon goes beyond her control and one day she is found buried under a fort wall. She was pregnant at the time of her death. How did she die? Who was the father of her unborn child? To know answers to this questions you have to read the terrific book The Woman who Saw the Future.

The Woman who Saw the Future dexterously weaves reality with fantasy. The author succeeds in bringing to life all the major characters. All characters in the novel are major for the story is narrated in multiple voices. Sapna's middle class parents are ubiquitous. The novel opens with gloomy picture. There are too many deaths and the resultant grief. The novel brightens up when Sapna starts saving people. Then it gains both speed and shape of the thriller.

The Woman who Saw the Future has both a fascinating story and an immaculate treatment. Though there are some mistakes like though it is mentioned that Sapna has an habit of inserting like in every sentence, the same is not reflected in her dialogues. At another place police is referred to as singular. But these errors are too small and considering the amazing world in which the novel sucks you into they are pardonable.

The Woman who Saw the Future is undoubtedly the best book I have read in the year 2017. It is irresistible and simply cannot be missed.

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Ficticious Dream - Book Review

The Fictitious Dream by Ravish T. Ram is the story of Rakvendra aka Rak. Rak is a BA graduate who suddenly finds himself in a desert. His journey lands him up in a sanatorium and then into the King’s army. He meets strange people in his even stranger destinations. Be it the old man whom he encounters first in his quest or the once famous doctor who now is mentally ill or the guard who once was an honest police man trapped in the corrupt system or Rak’s friend with a weird name called Shapat - the characters make the story even intriguing. Then there is the beautiful and rude princess who steals Rak’s heart. Will Rak reach his destination? Is his journey worth it? In order to find answers to this question you will have to read the book the Fictitious Dream by Ravish T. Ram.

This novel opens up an interesting premise for the readers. You are fascinated to know where this journey is going to lead. The author succeds with a terrific opening. The blurb has already raised your expectations. But unfortunately the novel falters and doesn’t deliver what is promised in the blurb. Lines like The next morning I woke up because of the noises made by those mad people. But when I treated them politely, they said I was sitting there just for masturbating to criminals. Criminals were assaulting the society. Why should are you interested in it? demonstrate the crying need for an editor’s job. A good editor would have certainly shaped this fictitious dream into a good fiction. Yet I congratulate the author for trying something new and not falling into the trap of formula.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Beyond Secrets

Noel, Nidhi and Appu are the lead characters of Alka Dimri Saklani’s novel Beyond Secrets. Noel is a counsellor. He joins the orphanage Ashiyana located in Vadodara. His father though wants him to join the family business. Nidhi is volunteering in the same orphanage. Her parents are not aware of the same. She has misinformed them stating that she is undergoing an industrial training. Appu is a bubbly, lively orphan. Noel feels strange connections with the orphanage. Why has Nidhi lied to her parents? Every character has skeletons of their past and the secrets are revealed at a slow leisurely pace. It is this snail pace that droves the novel on the verge of becoming a boring read. But thanks to the twists that you don’t end up feeling cheated.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Hell! No Saints in Paradise

Hell! No Saints in Paradise is an urban fantasy fiction set in 2050. Ismael is a Pakistani-American student. After a tiring spirtual quest he enters into an alliance with otherworldly beings who send him on a precarious journey of self discovery. Ismael still remains a non-believer, in sharp contrast with his father who is a prominent extremist in Pakistan. Now Ismael has to return to Pakistan. To gain the trust of his father, who stays in a fundamentalist Pakistan, he has to pose as a true believer. Will he complete his mission. This is the story of Hell! No Saints in Paradise.

The book chronicles life of a non-believer. It is not easy at all if you are living in a country like Pakistan. I liked the way character of Ismael is developed. With this book the author has tried to step into a new territory. His writing is clean and error-free. Yet the story appears non-linear and difficult to comprehend. What is the use of germinating a great idea when you are unable to communicate it to the masses in unequivocal words. The novel certainly falters when it comes to comprehension. This book may have been a great book, if it was a bit simplified for the lay readers.