So, I received this anthology of short stories edited by Ankit Mittal from Grapevine. Its called Shades of Love, and as the name suggests, it includes 25 stories all based on various emotions and situations that revolve around the four-letter word.
Now I'm not very fond of short stories; they seem too detached and incomplete to me. Like either the author or the reader is too lazy and does not have imagination or the inclination to supply the root or fruit to the tale, thus, merely projecting a trunk and stopping there. The disconnected tales require me to take a break after every story, and hence, such a long time to read a book of short stories. But anyway...
Love, is a term that we all talk about and all know too much about. Obviously enough, since movies and soaps drill every scenario, possible or otherwise, down our throat, nothing is unique or shocking anymore.
So, not surprisingly, most stories that comprise this anthology are pretty mundane and predictable. Bollywood movies like 10 Kahaniya, Rockstar, Tum Mile, and some other supernatural/psycho and infidelity films will all cross your mind as they did mine when I turned the pages after extended intervals.
Some stories seem pretty autobiographical, some "inspired" (if you know what I mean) and some very genuine and profound. Some, I found, ended abruptly and left you famished for more. Others were so obvious that the anti-climax hit you long before the last word. Or left you furiously frustrated at a silly end.
I casually glanced through the author list and found quite a wide array of last names - South Indian, North Indian, Bengali, Marathi, Sindhi, Punjabi... Quite impressive and a very diplomatic idea. Nobody will feel left out - Tiwari, Choudhary, Singh, Rai, Bhandari, Kapur, Banerjee, Kumar, Rao, Malhotra - they're all part of the kitty. Also noteworthy is the fact that the last page has an open invite to all folks who'd like to contribute their stories for future Grapevine publications. How cute is that...
The editing could have been better - I dont expect all writers to be grammar geeks but its the least I would expect of an editor specially chosen for this task. Glaring errors in terms of the syntax, spelling and vocabulary stared me in the face hindering the smooth flow of the story. Call me old-fashioned or detail-oriented, but these aspects are exactly what editing, to me, is all about.
A small but noticeable confusion for me occurred when I saw the writer belonged to a particular
gender but the story did not, at the outset, clarify what sex the protagonist belonged to. How that makes a difference is a question that I will certainly answer : it makes a world of difference since the way you perceive men and women is not the same and hence, when you imagine their feelings and demeanors, you ought to think from a gender-specific perspective. Like, if a man says "I was standing outside her window" - I know he must be looking around, checking his Watsapp / BBM / Facebook, munching on peanuts or gum, and oggling at other passers-by. But when a woman says the same thing, she is nervously fidgeting and glancing back and forth to locate the object of her desire.
I mean a girl would say something like "I want to be all that (he) wants" but for a boy, that is not
really that important a thing... He'd probably say that he wants her happy, and this need not mean that they are necessarily together when she's having a gala time. A boy may not object to a girls' night, but most girls sure would feel a little restless when their partner is at a boys' night or bachelors' party.
All in all, this is an interesting purchase for the "Chicken Soup" lovers or teenagers who find a struck chord in every story they read or see. For more widely read folks, umm... skip. Or maybe borrow and read then return :-)
Happy Thanksgiving, fellas!! And be good...
Don't take God, people and things for granted. You may not know its value until you lose it, and then it may be too late...