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July 25, 2011

Book Review - 41 : Stilettos in the Newsroom



Author: Rashmi Kumar
Publisher: Rupa & Co.


It is seen through the eye of a bubbly 28-year-old journalist - Radhika Kanetkar - right from the time she took her first step into the newsroom, got her first story and made bloopers, to how she handled pressures to meet deadlines. In the midst of all this, she experiences a journey of triumph, anguish, jealousy and of course, finds her true love.

I know a few journalists in Delhi, but the common thread among their personalities has always been ardent passion towards learning nuances of journalism. They all have the knowledge and the skill set required off the profession, but what differentiates the good ones from the bad ones is the maniac, almost compulsive behaviour of staying ahead of the pack. The most fundamental flaw in Stilettos in the Newsroom is that it doesn't even try to make sense out of its lead protagonist. It is lazy writing and publishing at its best. It is a kind of a book where editor must have spent the time surfing porn at work...otherwise how can you explain the blunders in editing where the narrative hops from one plot point to another without providing any inherent logic or character consistency.

Keep aside the numerous grammatical mistakes and overkill of ellipsis, the book doesn't even engage you at the basic plot level. There are so many random characters introduced on every fifth page, that after a point i stopped bothering about any of them. Problem is that the author don't even develop any of the characters on the most basic level; most of them are just introduced and then forgotten for the rest of the book. Intrinsically amateurish in its humour, the book fails because it is trying too hard to be "cool", while hitting all the wrong notes along the way. Most of the 'lessons' at the end of each chapter can be applied to any sphere in life and very few of them are related to journalism.

There is no issue in showing amoral characters or the lecherous way to move up the corporate ladder, but there is no build-up in the flow of the narrative and the climax is a cop-out to say the least. There is nothing distinctive about the writing and none of the 'twists' are worth mentioning. The only thing which stays with you a little is that the journalistic activities are captured decently enough to make you feel the milieu it is setting itself into. But that is hardly a reason to go through the anguishing 130 odd pages of this book.

I am going with 1/5 for Rashmi Kumar's Stilettos in the newsroom. Trust me, watching paint dry is a far more enriching and entertaining exercise than torturing yourself with such a book. Sexist it may sound, but it is a kind of book which sell in the market because it has a hot chic pic at the back cover. Read it if you have 100 bucks to waste.

5 comments:

Smita said...

:D

Anonymous said...

I have read this one. Yes the writing is no doubt bad but as a print journalist I can relate myself to the character sans her life life. Like her I also worked with features deaprtment and now on desk as a sub-editor.
Apart from talent sometimes what matters the most in this field is the closeness with the editor. It is a tough field and one needs to work under pressure, I have to submit my page at sharp 12 am else I am dead. The toughness and nature of the people in this book have been well defined and people working with Media can relate themselves to it

Journo? said...

Love life*

Amit Gupta said...

@Smita

:D

Amit Gupta said...

@Anonymous/Journo

No doubt the life of a journalist is tough, i have experienced that being with couple of friends from the same profession. But writing fiction about them require some skills and as i see it, is a different ball game altogether. As i said in the book review, it fails to even engage at the plot level and for me, that was the biggest let down. And yes, the field is full of interesting anecdotes and incidents....this was the only reason i picked up this book. What it offered in return was bit of a shocking experience, to say the least.