It’s not the length of a story that captures the reader, but the effect it has. A well written short story can be as effective as a novel, sometimes even more. Though novels rule the roost when it comes to books, I enjoy reading anthologies and short story collections as well, and am often impressed by the quality that some authors bring to the table. The stories in this collection by Neeru Iyer, ‘Of Bridges Among Us’, are quite impressive. They cover a range of emotions, situations, characters… the myriad colors of life.
In the story ‘Falling Stars’, two women cross each other’s paths. One is a young girl, barely twenty, but pregnant; the other is an elderly woman who cannot have children of her own after an accident. The story binds their lives almost magically. From cruelty to compassion, troubles to peace, simplicity to irony, the story brings the whole gamut of life and human emotions, I feel, and no doubt remains my favorite from the collection.
The story ‘Stranger to Life’ brings a tale of love lost and love found, of a family torn apart in a moment and yet seemingly joined back in a moment too. Ria’s tale again encompasses many emotions – treachery, love, lust, friendship, misunderstandings etc. The tale weaves through a setting where the tension can at times be cut with a knife, and the mood is mostly poignant, but it develops slowly before ending in a place that most would have expected it to.
As I read the initial parts of the story, I thought ‘The Best Mango’ would be about bullying. But it turned out to be much more. It’s a story you’ll need to read to love more. For me, a single line and dialogue stays in my heart. “You always have a choice, little girl. Never forget to choose the ripest mango. And never regret picking a fruit.” It seemed apt to life, to the little girl’s and to mine.
Marriage is a step we have to take when we’re ready to. But at times the choice is not up to us. ‘The Other Woman’ is the story of a woman who was pushed into marriage as soon as she turned eighteen. The story talks of more than just her tale though. It has characters who have that closed mindset that I see even now in people, and which lead to even those who trust beginning to doubt. It’s a story that brought a smile as the storyline began to unravel, and even though I had an idea how it would end, I feel it still holds brilliance.
These four stories were my favorite, but the other tales in the collection were still quite wonderful to read. From lesbians coming out to their parents and porn actors weighed down by family values to a split couple almost as good as reconciling, the stories covered a lot, and in particular, the story ‘Fever’ left a haunting feeling after it ended. The language is lucid and engaging, and if anything, I wanted to read more of some of the stories, especially ‘Fever’. On the flipside, a couple of the tales did not appeal to me much, and felt predictable without engaging me. I suppose that that does happen when it’s a collection of stories. It’s not a big letdown by any means.
I loved the cover art a lot. I’m sure I’d reread most of the stories, so the book definitely is successful. Waiting to read more from the pen of a quite talented author…
|Title: Of Bridges Among Us|
|Author(s): Neeru Iyer||Genre: Short Stories|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9789382622079||Publisher: Palimpsest Publishers|
(© 24th May 2016)