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March 26, 2012

Book Review - 76 : The Orange Hangover

Publisher: Jaico Books
Author: Rahul Saini

He had the coolest lifestyle – dinner with friends, best restaurants in town, first day first show of practically every film released, a decently paying job, parties all night and a good girlfriend.

He is stuck in his small hometown with zero parties, movies, cool restaurants or friends. The ‘good’ girlfriend has turned ‘bad’. He has no cool job. Everyone thinks he is a total nutter and there is only one girl who seems to understand his beliefs and values but speaks too less. And just to make things worse, he manages to tangle himself in a terrible case of extreme crime.

Would he be able to follow his heart and stick to his values and ambitions? Would he ever be able to win the girl he likes? Would the terrible case of extreme crime ever be solved?

The Orange Hangover make some pertinent points about the vicissitudes of life and delves into the psyche of young people which eventually have to make a difficult decision in life sooner or later - follow your heart or your brain. It is not surprising to guess in such kind of quick-young-fiction where the narrative is headed and exactly where it will end.

The story of this book, although much of it is set at his workplace, has little to do with that improbable job role. There is an inherent sincerity and grace in the relationship between the conversations of the lead protagonist and the online friend grows. However, the writing is adequate, most of the situations and reactions ranges from weird to abnormal. The murder set-up sequence is amateurishly handled and is almost forced into the narrative to give the all usual masala fare.

I am going with 2/5 for Rahul Saini's 'The Orange Hangover'. It does not provide anything new from what we have not read before in such kind of books. The only thing you can appreciate is the sincerity with which author feel for the central character. Read it if you must.

March 25, 2012

Published But Plagiarized

The following book review article appeared in The Sentinel, Guwahati on 20th March, 2012.

Normal. Well, not exactly.

Problem is, I wrote the same  book review on 22 Feb, 2012 on this very blog. The newspaper has copied it word by word without giving any due credit or asking my permission to publish it. Instead, very conveniently they have put the author as "agencies" right at the bottom. This coming from a reputed and 'popular' newspaper in North-East India was a shocker to say the least.

My numerous emails and reminders have been unanswered so far in the past few days. Phone calls have been conveniently forwarded to someone who never picks calls. If they want to lick my puke, let them do it. Frankly my dear, i don't give a damn. Sick of this blatant plagiarism!

PS: Suggestions to harass this newspaper are welcome. I need to rush back to make a strategy presentation. A fucking newspaper publish my writing without my permission and i am more worried about a fucking presentation. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck my life! :D

March 19, 2012

Book Review - 75 : When Monday Was Over

Author: Titus Manickam
Publisher: Frog Books

Fred Nicholson is successful and rich. He owns many companies, and he is only 38. Yet something inside him keeps prodding him to steal. He cannot resist the thrill. He steals not because there is any need, but because he gets an insidious kick out of it. Fred steals money meant for an ATM in New York and sends the police in a tizzy. All they come against are dead-ends. It is the perfect heist. Fred now eyes the world’s largest diamond. He steals it and in the process he falls in love with a young and beautiful woman. She is nobody’s fool. Where will Fred go from here? Will he be able to pull off this high-profile robbery? Will love become his undoing or will it rescue him?

When Monday was over starts briskly, suck you into the world of greed with a robbery and then starts concentrating on the personal life of Fred. This crucial, but arguably deterrent plot-point robs off some of the sheen from an otherwise fast-pace thriller. There is no harm in showing the human side of this kleptomaniac person but it goes overboard in portraying that particular trait and hence, gets away from the basic premise of a thriller. In the end, it becomes a mixture of different genres - be it romance, thriller, action; none of them strong enough to sustain on its own.

If you can overlook some of the cliches and a sagging middle portion, there are few things to like in the book. The pace is brisk, the editing fairly tight and the conversations between the characters is the soul of the book. Most of them stems from the cockiness of the main leads but ultimately provides credence to the flow of the narrative.

I am going with 2.5/5 for Titus Manickam's 'When Monday was Over'. A little more effort in keeping with the tone of a thriller would have gone a long way in making the book far more richer. In its current form, it misses the target by a whisker.

March 10, 2012

Collision of The Past & The Present

Bumping into exes with their currents is weird. Like really weird. Specially when it is completely unexpected, you are at an emotional low and work-stressed. The first thought which comes into your mind seeing her (of course,with someone else!) - Thank God, it could have been me! :D

You see...meeting someone whom you knew at some point for a long time means chaos. Big time. You are damn too familiar with their habits, their nuances, their actions and hell, even their gestures. That tensed habit of playing with the wrist watch, that action of putting the titian hair behind the ears, that irritating habit of twitching the eyebrows, that nuances of saying 'Hello' while titling your head towards right, that upright stand on your toes when to say 'alright'. It just seems so familiar. Like, time has flown but nothing has changed. Like, time has stopped but you have changed.

There is an air of unexpectedness and anguish.  There are unspoken words and unheard murmurs. The emotions which engulf you at that moment leave you in the awe of the unknown and fascinated with the familiar. There are ephemeral glimpses of the past and a collapse of an almost useless life. There are broken images and dreams, there are unfulfilled promises and desires. You see, such is love and its eccentricities. They collide and crashes both, your past and the present.

PS: On the other side, there is an irresistible temptation to be snarky, rude or distant to the person alongside her. However, my mother's advice to be nice to snakes and spiders still hold in my life.

March 9, 2012

Book Review - 74 : The Land of the Wilted Rose

Publisher: Rupa Publications 
Author: Anand Ranganthan

It is the golden age of the Indian empire. The brown man's burden stretches from the temple of Angkor to the chapel of King's. The fate of all mankind is in the hands of a seventeen-year-old Maharaja whose ships rule the waves and armies occupy the four corners of the earth. But all is not well. In the small colony of England, an unassuming little white man decides to fight back. 

This is his story, the story of a man who, armed with only an umbrella and a newspaper-wrapped meal of fish and chips, led millions on the historic Dundee March, towards freedom, and himself into the pages of history as a Great Soul, the White Mahatma. The Land of the Wilted Rose, the first book in The White Mahatma Quartet, is an allegorical work, a black comedy, but it is also a book that seeks to understand the psychological scars empires inflict on the vanquished, scars that fester, that remain unhealed.

The dark humour is a difficult genre to write specially when it is mixed with allegorical mode of presenting the narrative. A story of role reversal, the book starts off brilliantly with such nuanced layering you are pretty much sucked into the world. It is only when the author start getting self-indulgent the narrative loses its steam and meanders all along.

There is fun reading deliberate spelling or pronunciation mistakes by the whites, the tongue-in-cheek humour and the detailed situations, most of them manages to keep your interest alive. However, the author fails to bridge the gap between the readers and her characters. It's unquestionably interesting what happens to these people, you know their lives have changed forever, yet there's a certain unexplained distance that never lets you "feel" these incidents yourself. Remember, the most compelling books are the ones that transport you to the centre of the drama, and make you a participant in the action. The land of the wilted rose is a noble book, an admirable debut, but you don't feel the pain. Never. Ever.

I still need to get my head around why the whole story had to be divided into four different books. Considering it is only 150 odd pages long and just start to pick momentum by the end of the first one, it is surprising to see publisher and the author stretching that over four books. Most of the times, such strategic decisions back fire in books. This is exactly one of those cases. It would have made so much sense to put all the four books into one, packaged and edited them well to create a black comedy.

I am going with 2.5/5 for the first book in White Mahatma's Quartlet, 'The Land of the Wilted Rose'. It is a book which requires patience and lateral thinking to appreciate. If it was not trying so hard to work on a tangential level with weird characters, it would have been much worth it.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

March 5, 2012

Book Review - 73 : Zero Percentile 2.0

 Author: Neeraj Chhibba
Publisher: Rupa Publications

Pankaj’s ambition gets the better of him; Priya is torn between her two friends; Motu is struggling to save his company from a hostile takeover; Arjun is left alone to support his daughter, a child with special needs; and Nitin can’t allow himself to fall in love as he is afflicted with HIV ... Zero Percentile–2.0 is the story of Pankaj and Motu who begin their foray into the software world with a small company called NumeroSoft. Surrounded by friends, Nitin, Priya and Arjun, they have pinned their hopes on the Babe – the software they are developing. As Pankaj’s desire to conquer the world clashes with their ethics, their friendship falls apart and they leave the company to start a new software enterprise. Once friends, now fierce competitors, the stakes are enormously high for them. What will it cost them? Will they ever get back together? A tale of greed, love, friendship and conspiracy which ends in a pulsating climax after seven days of bitter fight for control.

It is always difficult to follow up on a well-written, engaging book and ZP2.0, sequel to Zero percentile might have just pulled it off if it was not trying too hard to cram it everything. Apart from awkward sentences cases and non-seamless narrative, the book entwines in so much that at times, you have to stop to check on the flow of events. Pacing has never been a problem in Chhibba's books, but it is the lack of detailing and logical loopholes which hurt the final product this time.

Each character comes with its own set of rules and problems, more complex than others. It helps that most of these are regular situations with which one can identify and the book has a good heart which we all want to see somewhere in ourselves. The narrative is punctuated by flesh and blood characters with whom you can identify and it is brave on the author's part not to show any prejudices. I particularly enjoyed the portions of Arjun's daughter, which are written with a deft touch and a rare maturity when it comes to writing about the specially challenged children.

The second section of the book, however, was too long for me, and provides a convenient back-story to justify each characters eccentricities. The cross-connecting of various stories is a tad confusing and the amalgamation of sub-plots with the main story left a lot to be desired. I personally felt the brouhaha over Nitin's AIDS campaign over-the-top mainly because it is set in IT industry where you would expect the intellectual level of people working to be of an optimum level.

I am going with generous (2.5+0.5)=3/5 for Neeraj Chhibba's ZP2.0. It is more complex, but less engaging than its prequel. More focus should have been on exploring relationships and less on number of relationships. It might just have worked much better in that form. Read it if you are a fan of racy metro reads.