Love. When it comes to genes, love or romance seems to be the go-to genre in Indian Writing in English. When a genre is that popular a choice, it becomes difficult to bring out something original, something different… something that stands out. Five authors come together in this anthology to try and do exactly that – to stand out from the crowd. Each of them offers three stories to this collection.
Tanima Kedar brings the stories, ‘Till Death Do Us Part’, ‘Together Forever’ and ‘The Diary’. The common thread that runs through these stories is strength. The first brings two characters in a situation that can’t be changed, yet the girl finds herself willing the man to hold on. The title gives away the essence of the story, I suppose, but it was one that stood out nevertheless, from Tanima’s set of three. The other two sees the strength of love tested by situations, yet coming out successful.
‘Like asymptotes that could come closer and closer, yet never be one’ – the last line of Akash Deep Gupta’s story ‘The Poem’ quite sums up the state of the lovers in each of his stories. Storyline wise, I feel the one that stands out most is the one titled ‘The Lake of Love’. His stories are also different from the others in the book because he chooses to have a foreign setting for each of them.
Ishan Dafaria’s set of three follows a similar theme as Akash Deep’s, but they are much shorter, much more to the point, almost like he was observing the characters, their situations or thoughts. The one that I liked most was the one titled ‘Closure’. I liked its ending, which expressed something I can accept is true. The sadness of the character could be understood. The other two also had something to take away from them too.
Anuj Kumar explores the dark side of love, and one-sided love when it comes to that. I don’t think I was prepared for what the end of one of the stories had in store, and quite frankly, I still don’t want to be. The other two stories felt like it could happen to someone, especially the first story of the three, which kind of happens in society even now perhaps. I like that an unexplored side to love stories has been taken up, which helps the stories stand apart.
The three stories that Maliny Mohan bring to the table are unique because of the endings, of how love that is waited for may not happen. The story titled ‘At the Bus Stop’ was one of my favorites in the entire book for the ending to that love story which is endless.
Each of the fifteen stories in the book has a common aspect that is likeable – that it does not go the usual route that love stories seem to take. That’s a big positive, and one that makes me happy to have read the book. However, a storyline or plot by itself makes maybe half the story for me. The other half is dependent on how it is presented to the reader. In cooking, they say, ‘It’s not bad if a dish is simple, but it should be perfect. Because when it is simple, the mistakes seem to be more prominently noticed.’ The same holds true for storytelling too, I feel. The book, be it the best story or the one I liked the least, needs to be edited a lot better, so that a reader is lost in the story and can even ignore a mistake here and there. There were typos that stood out, even on the blurb. A few stories had an abundance of ellipses that didn’t make sense to me, and which felt rushed. And that made the narration less engaging.
Love and Other Enchantments has stories which could have impressed much more than they did. The writers’ potential shines through too because the stories they’ve conceived are different, unique, likeable. For me, the editing brings this down a lot. Just above average, 3 stars, 6 on 10.
|Title: Love and Other Enchantments|
|Author(s): The Fictitious Five||Genre: Anthology|
|ISBN/ASIN: N/a||Publisher: Blue Rose Publishing|
(© 10th March 2016)