Life is not perfect or anything. It has its ups and downs, joys and blues etc. Each of us has a way to get the frustration of the downs and blues out. Some write it out, some read a book, and yes, some vent it out by bitching about it to others who are in a similar state, or who’d be able to relate to it. It’s perhaps more prominent when in a job that we’re not happy with and yet can’t leave for some reason. Through the author’s debut work, we were introduced to the bitching club of Aarohi. This, her second book, continues it.
About the author:
Ankita Kapoor is an Indian author who currently resides in the United States. She used to work for a popular art gallery as an Arts coordinator, and then as a journalist in New Delhi, both of which introduced her to the social milieu of the twenty first century. Apart from writing, she is also an artist.
Thoughts on the cover:
An artwork made by the author herself sits proudly on the cover. I’m not a connoisseur of art but I could see silhouettes of people in that painting, and one of them perhaps holding a camera or something like that. Considering the backdrop of the story is an art gallery, I found it to be a lovely choice.
Impressions from the blurb:
A story about the power struggles in an office, and something anyone with a bad boss could relate to easily.
Narrated in first person, and written like diary entries this book is the story of a 20-something girl just out of college and unemployed. She’s quite happy to be on a “well-deserved break” before finding a job, and finds her mother’s concerned call and the “bitching” of the thieving, careless maids to be her alarm clock that wakes her from her long, unconcerned slumbers. By chance, and by the recommendation of her friend, she gets a job at a famous art gallery in New Delhi. The book thereafter is the narration of events that mattered to the protagonist, i.e. made her want to bitch about her bosses, or her roommates etc.
What I like in Ankita’s narration is directness. It feels like we are reading the pages right out of the diary. Some of the events are laced with humor, and thanks to the directness of the tone, we can imagine it happening. The emotions explored are well done, and you get to know that too… like when the protagonist is too embarrassed by another’s action and slinks away giving some excuse, or kindly offers a chocolate to her boss when something bad befalls him. Thankfully, I have a good boss who I don’t have to crib about a lot, but I can understand the necessity and the book is believable in that aspect. The book is not heavy, a light-read that I could finish within half a day. It manages to bring out the attitude of bosses who do the mistake and pass it off on others, workers who take the attitude of the boss and use it to their advantage and a general office culture. It also brings out some issues that are common in society, like parents judging their children because of the jobs, overprotectiveness, live-in relationships, homosexuality etc. It also shows the murky side of being a celebrity. After all, even small worlds have their own big names. It also shows every job has a different face, though we may see only one.
What stands out however is the editing, or lack thereof. I could see one name spelt one way, and typos for that name in the next page, the same name with a different typo later on. I don’t know if the usage of some phrases is right. The dates of the diary entries seem quite fast at times. One of the characters suffers a ruptured tendon and within ten days is completely healed that he can run around with work again. Or after months of working at the gallery, the protagonist says “it was my third day on the job”. Also, it feels like I need to refer the dictionary often at times as there are some big words used. I think sometimes the directness should be kept for the sake of simplicity. Greed, stingy and hateful sound much more right in context than avarice, parsimonious and malaise.
In my opinion this is a book that might appeal to someone with a bad boss, but though it can be read at a stretch and done with quickly, the entire story having a lot of “bitching” and such makes it a tough pill to swallow in one go. The narration is humorous with the different types of characters and their not-so-uncommon actions that end up bringing their downfall somehow. Though I feel her debut was average, Ankita’s skill in telling a story is something that makes me look forward to reading more from her in the future.
Title: Arty Facts
Author: Ankita Kapoor
ASIN: B00B0323P6 (Kindle Edition)
Publishers: Pegasus Books (via Amazon)
Price: INR. 270
(May 22nd, 2013)