There’s something about the genre of humor that usually stumps me. Not sure why, but it does. However, when someone I admire for his writing in that genre comes out with a book, I have to read it. Thankfully, the eBook was part of Kindle Unlimited which I subscribe to, so I borrowed a copy there than wait for a paperback.
If there is a type of book that any kid would have read the most, I guess it would be comics. Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Batman, Archies and Peanuts are some that come immediately to mind. When a friend has an idea for a comic and it finds wings and becomes published, it’s a wonderful thing. To read it was wonderful too.
The comic is about a superstitious man by the name of Subbu, and one day, one very eventful day in his life. He is on his way to meet a publisher, and unwittingly gets into a school bus which has been hijacked by terrorists. How does that eventful day pan out? Read the book to find out.
I don’t quite know how to review a comic. It’s not the same as reviewing a novel. Did the story keep me interested? Yes, for the most part. I could know what was going to happen, and predictability does hamper the flow of any story. Was it humorous? Yes, for the most part. Perhaps knowing the author’s style and his fondness for Wodehouse helped in that too. There are memorable characters, the best of the lot being Mrs. Subbu. I liked that Subbu and his wife are complete opposites in character, and that she stood by Subbu when others were turning against him. The book also put in light vein, the tendency of society to act on an initial impression taking it to be true, without waiting to see if what was said was absolutely true. The illustrations are done nicely, and the cover as well. To take a common man into a comic, when superheroes and fantasy creations rule the roost in that genre was a novel idea. The main flipside of the book is that it is a bit predictable, and the sequence of the panels sometimes confuses. Maybe it is because the comic happens in two places/timelines that leads to this confusion.
Is it worth reading? Yes. It’s a one-time read that is good for a short journey. It’ll keep you interested.
Title: Subbu’s Code
Author: Balasubramaniam Meghanathan
Illustrator: Avisek Chowdhury
Price: Rs. 99
(30th October 2014)
“Not all those who wander are lost” – JRR Tolkien.
But what if you did want to get lost? Lost from the mundane life that you feel you are leading. Would a nice wander help you out then? Maybe exploring the unexplored, learning a new language or traveling to the places you might not have visited? If you did it often, would you do it over again?
When the protagonist learns a bit of Tamil and starts to use it at his office, his colleagues do a test run and pack him and his Tamil off on a bus for him to explore a bit of the country. Thus begins his thirst for wandering, and the start to his story. It is his love for the unexplored that makes him decide not to visit the same place again. And one fine weekend, his journey takes him to the small, mostly unheard of village of Palayar.
His visit there brings about a clash between his scientific mind and the more unsubstantiated, belief driven ideals of the village people. What he does out of curiosity ends up violating some moral or religious belief of the priests or the people he meets there. He’s surprised but not totally unhappy at meeting someone who knows English, and has fun with him. Unfortunately for him, even that educated person is someone who strongly believes in what the protagonist feels is a myth. The events come to a boil when the protagonist decides to return home, taking refuge in whatever means of travel a Sunday night can provide him with.
The book starts off quite slowly and builds up to the particular weekend of travel. It’s a bit tedious at the start, but once the fated trip begins, the story takes off and enters a nice enjoyable pace. The tone of narration is casual, at times even too casual.
“It is always easier to hang on to some convenient make-believe truth than to search for an absolute one.”
The protagonist brings a nice memorable line, also comparing himself (at that point trying to argue against the possibility of paranormal entities) and Sarvana (who is adamantly defending what legends he has been taught and brought up with). The argument which is a more known one (science v/s religion) is interesting to read, especially the legend behind Palayar and Luganar, but sometimes feels a bit humorous as well. I liked the thrill of the return trip too, but I wouldn’t say the experience was horrifying to read, and I could guess the ending. The setting being rural Tamil Nadu, the author uses some regional words in the narration. I feel it is apt for the story and makes it feel realistic, but on the flipside, the words may not be understandable to those who don’t know the lingo.
I would recommend this read for a short journey, as it can be finished in a few hours at most. It will entertain, even in its simplicity. Congratulations to the author and the publisher for their debut.
Why should you read it?
Entertaining, simple read written in a casual tone that can keep you engaged, giving you both thrill and laughs.
What you may not like…
The start is tedious and the end somewhat guessable. Those unfamiliar with Tamil may find the regional words out of place.
Title: Lucifer’s Lungi
Author: Nitin Sawant
Price: INR. 120
(3rd June 2014)
About the editor:
Nethra is a student based in Bangalore pursuing her Masters in Business Administration. She is a voracious reader and a writer of fictions, the love for which made her begin Fablery, a platform which provides aspiring authors a gateway into the publishing world.
The book in a nutshell:
Ten Shades of Life is an anthology of short stories. Unlike most anthologies I have seen, the book doesn’t stick to one particular genre, rather it has ten stories from ten different genres. It is the culmination of monthly contests in each genre held in 2012, the ten stories the ten chosen winners of each month.
The book has stories from the genres (in order of content): Fantasy, Romance, Action/Adventure, Humor, Horror, Science Fiction, Historical, Mystery/Thriller, Philosophical and Occupational.
Delving into the stories:
When the book has stories from different authors, a summary of the positives and negatives might not give an overall picture. Since the number of stories in the book is less, I give you my thoughts on each story quickly.
I’m going in the order that I’ve read the stories, and not according to the contents page.
#1: The Secrets of Ahiraah (Reshmy Pillai, Historical): I’ve not read a lot of historical fiction, and this short story was perhaps my first Indian-based historical fiction. What I liked in the story was the pace and the detailing. I could imagine the story reading it out loud, and I could finish it quickly. I liked the character of Jatindev Oswal as well. I have a small doubt regarding the outcome of a couple of actions of characters, but I’ll not reveal those doubts as it possibly might give away the ending (a tendency I usually have but am trying to get out of). Overall, it was really enjoyable.
#2: Where did you go? (Deepa Duraisamy, Mystery): Though I label it mystery, I do have to say the story to me had the thriller element too. What I liked in the story was the plotting, which seems believable and in India, I can imagine it happening as well. The story held my attention and I didn’t stop reading till I finished. What I didn’t like was her choice of character names, and one particular choice made by a character, which felt oddly unrealistic (in the sense, it may have been better brought out). Overall, it was another story I found really enjoyable.
#3: Red and Gold (Monika Pant, Romance): One of my more preferred genres for reading and writing, her story added the historical touch to it. What I liked in the story was the romance. It felt nice to read that power true love can have, and the lengths the lovers can go to keep it. The language was simple and it was well written. What I didn’t like in the story was a lot of Hindi words spread across it. The setting, I agree, calls for it, but I couldn’t understand the meanings of the words. Also, few subcharacters didn’t get an ending, and it stood out because their place in the story to me elevated them to nearly a main character itself. Overall, the story works well, but the downsides were a little too big.
#4: The Incarnadines (Cheyenne Mitchell, Fantasy): Fantasy is something that to me that has magic and mythological sounding characters or such as the main plot setting. It’s that magic part that should stand out. This story felt more like a family trouble story where the protagonist is telling of her problems, or just narrating a belief. That’s the main reason why this wasn’t one of my favorites. What I liked in the story is the character of the protagonist. A lone child with family issues seems very likely to go into a fantasy world. Overall, I didn’t find it impressive.
#5: A Nootropic Egress (Karthik L, Scifi): I found this story appealing. It’s a mix of sci-fi and a mystery because that’s how he’s woven the plot. What I liked in the story was the character of Rohit. It kind of reminds me of a cartoon, Dexter of Dexter’s laboratory. Rohit felt like a right character for a sci-fi story. The names of the characters also felt very interesting, and especially the character of Trnzu felt so realistic in ways. The ending also brought a chuckle, though I was expecting that ending in a way. What I didn’t like in the story was a big error in proofreading, one that got me ROFL. The other thing I felt was a little too much toward the investigative part. I’d have loved to read more of the sci-fi way. But the story otherwise works quite fine to me. One of the better ones in the book.
#6: Something like that (Shankar Raman, Humor): The only thing I know of Wodehouse is that there’s a character named Jeeves. (Note to self: Start reading Wodehouse this year). So now that I’ve confessed my lack in reading the genre of humor, I’ll state that this story was definitely humorous, and as a college student who caught on to teachers’ habits quite quickly, I could understand and enjoy the story! What I liked was the character sketching of the main protagonists. And definitely the ending that caught me off guard and left me laughing out loud for awhile. The story has humor spread in little chuckles and smiles through narration, so the ending just works. What I didn’t like was when a portion went a little serious. But that’s not a big drawback. Again, one of the better ones in the book.
#7: A good day to die (Rahul Biswas, Occupational): I liked the characters in the story, and the language just brings that story out. I think the plot warranted for a very detailed sort of opening, that makes you get lost in the narration and bring out the effect. It had that. It had that conflicting opening that makes you wonder what happened and why the character is in that place. So brilliant. What I didn’t like was that I could predict that ending a little. It isn’t a dramatic setback though.
#8: Barren Harvest (Vinaya Swapnil Bhagat, Philosophical): This again felt like it was cross-genre. I agree that the borders are thin between genres at times, but I felt it to be leaning toward a sci-fi at times. That being said, I understood the philosophy of thought put forth and I think it was a different way to do it. I liked the story for that reason, and though the narration seemed heavy at times to me, I think the emotion came out fine. The story was good. What I didn’t like was what I told earlier, that I felt the story to be leaning a little more toward being sci-fi. Also, I felt that the mother not identifying her daughter felt a little too fictional. But I guess the time the story is set in, it could happen.
#9: Weekend in the Country (Bruce Memblatt, Horror): One of my friends says that for genres like horror, the language must be such that you set-up the reader to feel the chills down the spine, make him imagine it. I agree, and though some parts of this story did have that sort of language, I personally didn’t feel that scared. I could predict the ending to a large extent, that such-and-such would happen. The instruments used as scary would definitely bring a chill down the spine if you were to find it, and I give the story props for that. But it left me somewhat disappointed. Good, but could’ve been a whole lot better.
#10: Harry’s bluff (Roshan Radhakrishnan, Action): I kept the action genre to the end because it’s one that needs to be quick paced, and flowing from scene to scene. It’s the perfect ending to a cocktail of genres. This story, in my opinion, did bring that pace out well. I like the flashback that’s incorporated into it, and the editing to hold thoughts in italics was quite good. The character sketch was done nicely as well, and I like that the main character did what he did. What I didn’t like was the character of Selena. Though the mothering of the protagonist comes well, it felt too domineering. The story was a good ending to my read.
For this book to have happened, there was a lot of hard work, but it was because of the authors mainly. It wouldn’t have been a book if they hadn’t put an effort to write the stories! So, I don’t like that there aren’t any author bios in the book. Atleast a paragraph on each at the end of the book would’ve been good, if not a page before each story, because as a reader, I’d also want to know a little bit about the author. I also found a few typos, but not all of them stood out and hindered the reading. I’d have chosen a different color for the cover too. However, for the cocktail of genres to work, it has to mix well. In my opinion, it does. Some stories weren’t that appealing, but most of them were well written and held my attention. They also delivered on what they promised genre-wise, and some are re-readable. Kudos to the effort, and I await the next instalment.
Title: Ten Shades of Life – Fablery
Author: Multiple authors
Genre: Multi-genre anthology
Price: INR. 139
(March 21st, 2013)