About the author:
Tania James is an Indian-American novelist and the author of the novel “An Atlas of Unknowns” which won the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Book of the Year in 2009.
My thoughts on the book:
Lucid language is a delight in books. You can’t be thankful enough when simple words written beautifully bring out a concept or an idea well. You don’t always need a conflict to resolve, when you have a concept to show. “Aerogrammes and other stories” by Tania James is such a collection.
There are nine stories in the book. To give an inkling of what you can expect, I share my thoughts on three of them.
“Lion and Panther in London” narrates the tale of two wrestlers who are brought to London to win over the world. Forgetting for a moment the profession of wrestling that’s portrayed in the story, this is one story that can make us realize the world doesn’t always care, no matter how much you advertise your presence. And when your presence begins to be known, others who are envious of you spread rumors. And in the complete sense of it all, you are just a pawn to many, except for those who really matter.
“Girl marries Ghost” is humorous in one way, wise in another. Imagine if you could marry ghosts, and live a normal life (I know that’s very oxymoronic, but still). For the sheer audacity of the thought, I love this story. It also makes one realize that it’s good to let go of past ghosts and not chase after present ones; literally in the story and metaphorically in life.
The title story “Aerogrammes” is a family story that lingers over issues, like being ignored by family during old-age, put in a home, yet unable to make friends there at first and being recluse, then finding a friend when you least expect it, and in the end realizing that they are more closer to you than family, who never come to visit; that believing you have a family just by an aerogramme or a photo is possible if it gives you the hope and the happiness to live on.
Though the book isn’t one that makes you turn pages quickly and move to the next, it isn’t one that makes you throw up with its slowness either. The stories stick on to you slowly, making you look for depth, even if it is just a story to others. The language is simple, and direct, crisp to the point; the pictures from words rich in detail.
Sometimes, the stories end suddenly when you just seem to be getting into it, and looking forward to reading more, and there are some characters that make you wonder, “What was this character for? How did he/she fit into the scheme of things?” It’s not always a complete turn-off though.
A good book for reading in bed; they are somewhat like fairy tales, but with a more reality touch to them. They aren’t one particular genre, this point is somewhat contradicting, since at times I find that to be endearing, and other times confusing.
Title: Aerogrammes and other stories
Author: Tania James
Genre: Fiction/Short Stories
Publishers: Random House India
Price: Rs. 399
(February 24th, 2013)