The perks of being a professional book reviewer associated with the prestigious Team ThinkerViews include getting exposed to some new talents. In one similar experience, I get a chance to read Afsaane – A Collection of Short Stories By Ameya Bondre.
In this book, Ameya tried weaving stories from various genres. There is a common link, though. Human emotions and social canvas. Reading all the stories in a continuous reading session will irk mixed emotions in you. But, if you give a dedicated reading session to each of them, the experience would be interesting.
|Book Title||:||Afsaane – A Collection of Short Stories
|Publisher||:||Blue Rose Publishers (27 December 2019)|
|# of Pages||:||
310 KB 208 (Paperback)
|# of Chapters||:||11|
Let us take a look at the cover page of this book.
The cover page of a book plays a very important role in influencing a large number of purchase/reading decisions (in positive and negative, both the aspects). That’s why, despite believing in “not judging a book by its cover”, we acknowledge the importance of the cover page for a book (or for that matter, any media).
Afsaane – the word itself suggests that the book is a collection of tales. So, as a reader what do you expect to be on the cover page of this book? Well, one possibility could be – a narrator is shown sharing tales in front of a formal or informal gathering. Here, the cover designer has shown a few objects put on various shelves on the cover page of the book. Is it just the representation of a set of tales from various genres? Or, there is a reason behind it? Well, the author himself clears the air by saying:
The objects you see on the cover are crucial story elements. They speak when words fall short or characters hesitate to emote. At times, they try to hold the plot or set the scenes. I have depended on them for a large part of my process, so they had to fall on the cover.
The wooden color scheme looks interesting and eye-catcher. Overall, a thoughtful and attractive cover page.
Usually, we talk about the book plot and our thoughts about various segments of the same in two distinguished segments. The nature of this book is different. It consists of the following 11 stories.
- Blinkers On
- A Regular Date
- A Healthy Home
- Not In The Dark
- A Frantic Call
- Long Lost
Each story has its own arena. As they all are “short” in length, if we talk in detail about the plots of each of them, we cannot avoid spoilers. And, having spoilers is the last thing we would like to be part of the review. Some of them, however, are inevitable. But, let me try sharing my thoughts about the book, by keeping away as many of them as possible.
The book is a heterogeneous mixture of stories from various social setups. You can find people of different natures, from different parts of the world in these fictional tales. The author first has written the essence of the story and then have rewritten it more than once to make them what they appear in the book. You can say that the author is not interested in just writing for the sake of it. He puts in his genuine efforts to make them the best based on his abilities and limitations.
It is rightly said that “emotion is the common language we all speak”. The book reflects the same. The author has given enough time to explore the layers of his fictional characters. While it is the positive aspect for some of the stories, for some of them, it works as a let down too. These days, the reader’s attention span is small, and when your introductory part of the story is long, sometimes a reader may not like it. Some of the stories require your attention to understand what is happening, and why. Some stories are ended in a not-so-typical way. Again, it works in both ways. The author should have made some of the tales simpler.
It seems Ameya is a nature lover. The way he talks about nature indirectly in his tales reinforces this thought. He very rightly points out that we somehow are in so much hurry to reach the target that we don’t enjoy the journey and we don’t pay attention to the ethereal beauty around us. In one of the stories, for example, you will find a conversation where a person says:
“That we’re going too fast”, I quipped, slowing down a little. “It is constantly speaking to us, but we have to slow down to hear its messages.
Here is another example where natural beauty is nicely explored with minimum words.
We met on a shimmering, moonlit night. The still waters of a blue lake mirrored the moon, the swirling bits of white clouds, a few scattered stars and the twin summits of a snow-capped mountain.
It feels really good reading about the real childhood that the previous generation (or those who are in their 40s currently) have enjoyed. We seriously missing the representation of the real village/town life and the social canvas of our culture and country, both on Television and movies. TV Serials like Malgudi Days are still incomparable. Some makers try to bring villages and towns in their “realistic!” movies/ TV Shows. However, the actual essence of them is missing there. Or, might be the people and environment in villages and towns changed! Anyway, these realistic(!) exploration often contains abusive language and expletives, and, I don’t favor them.
Reading this book, gave me one pleasant surprise. I found the reference to the actual game we used to play in our childhood days. It feels really good when I read about it.
A little boy looked about three-feet tall, he had brownish streaked hair and a dusted blank face. He wore a tattered red T-shirt and jaded black shorts and rolled a tyre with a stick. He pushed his way through groups of people who rushed against him at times, near the edge of an uneven footpath. They blocked him and let the tyre slip away. Each time it fell, he lifted it and continued to roll on. The tyre found its gap and spaces to keep running. He let its pace pull him along, mindless and carefree and lost in the motion of the lifeless, abandoned object.
And, at the same time, I found the author talks about modern technologies and the current way of living with the same conviction. I specifically like the way he has elaborated on how social media is (wrongly) used these days. Of course, not everyone is using it the wrong way. Some genuine users take the maximum advantage of it in a constructive way and often do their bits for the greater good. But, there is another side of the story too. And, accept it or not, we all know it.
People hiding behind machines. Push-button commentary. Trolls. Bullying. Abuses. Name-calling. Slut-shaming. Body-shaming.
Love thy God. Love thy clan. Love thy family. And attack the other.
It is a long paragraph, but definitely worth reading.
The author is good at playing with words. Here is an example:
He stepped out of the cab, and after a while, a message jumped high, to spiritedly climb onto the screen with a loud beep.
The story about “malnutrition” talks about various segments of society in a realistic way. Some of us are nature lovers who actually do our bits for nature, and some of us do our bits by twitting about it or giving interesting speeches at various conferences. Some of us actually plant trees and even create small forests or build check-dams, while the rest of us talk about the importance of the same and consider their duty is over, right? In the story about malnutrition, if you pay attention you will find real and satirical stuff moving ahead neck-to-neck. Read carefully the scene when one of the NGO workers got the news that their NGO is recognised by an international organization for its work! What he feels, tells a lot about the realities. The author doesn’t shy away in saying (of course, through a character):
Our insights could be incomplete, but didn’t we know enough about malnutrition and why it occurs? Shouldn’t we first try to implement a few of our great ideas? Or maybe doing the actual work – to support every mother in every household of these ten villages – was too demanding or uninteresting?…
The book also talks about parenting and social canvas. More often than not, parents have expectations from their children, beyond their caliber. It leads to a lot of psychological problems that later affect society on the whole. The author talks about this fragile and important topic in a mature way. Here is a line in the same regards form the book:
When parents burden you with expectations and family prestige is the only real currency, you move out to other listening ears and patient heads.
The book has some interesting oneliners too:
She looked at him keenly as if tracing his thoughts.
By now, you must have got an idea about the content of the book and its quality. Remember, most of the characters in the book have their limitations too. So, they are not ideal always, but “real” in most of the cases. The characters are developed nicely and sometimes the stories take you through surprise, for example, one story is written from the perspective of the particles of a drug!
If you like to read stories of various genres with an open mind, and you welcome reading not-so-easy (always) tales that require your attention, this book is a good choice for you.
Around 7.5 out of 10.
Quick Purchase Links:
- Buy Book From Amazon India – Paperback
- Buy Book From Amazon India – Kindle Ebook
- Buy Book From Amazon US – Kindle Ebook
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