Monday, August 06, 2012

Jhoomur Bose - Confessionally Yours - Recalcitrance - Anurag Mathur

A few months back while researching on the tale of Gulfam and Sabz pari, I found the story belonged to a ballet created during the time of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.  He was a colourful character and surely worth reading up.  The wiki page linked a book called Recalcitrance which was supposed to be about Wajid Ali Shah.

I followed the link and was led to the twitter page of the author of the book, Anurag Kumar.  A bit of a dialogue (the book was not available online or in bookshops) led him into sending me a copy of his book.  It was extremely kind of him.  Thank you Anurag.

I am quoting from the blurbs here: "Anurag is a freelance journalist.  He belongs to a very old family of Lucknow which witnessed the events of 1857.  Ever since childhood he was fascinated by the Great Uprising"

1857 was indeed a very tumultuous time and there were surely some great stories that can be written on that period.  My favorite is Ruskin Bond's "A flight of pigeons".

Recalcitrance follows the lives of two friends Chote Bhaiyya and Narinderlal who happen to witness the events that take place in Lucknow at close quarters.  Chote Bhaiyya finds himself smitten by a muslim girl, but cannot find the courage to act in time to get close to her.

The problem with the book - despite a story that should practically tell itself, after all the events were happening so rapidly at the time - is that it gives out a very disjointed feel.  It proceeds from one event to another without any apparent link. There is no attempt to bring together the events at any later chapter either. Several characters are not named  but referred to ambiguously like, "a holy man", a "general" etc.  I got the feeling that the author is trying to point to some important historical figures of the time, but I failed to place them.

This incoherence spoils the story and I wish the author had worked harder on it, because it is apparent that the subject is very close to his heart.

Confessionally Yours by Jhoomar Bose is a fresh release and I was recommended it by Samit Basu via a tweet.  Not personally of course, it was a general tweet and I picked it up.  The book starts like a typical pulp fiction with a blogpost of a woman who recounts her first sexual experience.  From then on, the story moves to a very amusing account of a typical day in a newpaper office, starting with a staff meeting, with the editor, called Ed, swearing after every two words. Polly Sharma, our heroine, is a new recruit in this newspaper called, well, Tabloid.  Her boss, Leena, the features editor is not the easiest boss to work with.  Her penchant for being a grammar nazi has given her a nickname Comma.

As is the case, the tabloid (or Tabloid) is always on the lookout for racy stories to help the sales. Polly, who has been following the blog of a woman who has been very confessional about her sex life in her blog, wants to profile the blog.  Her boss agrees.

So far so good.

Then comes a peek into Polly's own life.  Her husband has been aloof for quite a while, and Polly has been excusing him for it, thinking he is busy with his office work and should be given space.  In the meantime, she has to adjust with her mother-in-law, aptly named Dragon, who pops in for visits ever so often.

Her maid Mini is facing domestic violence and Polly tries to help her out.  In the meantime, she learns that her husband had a torrid affair with a girl before he got married to her, and she finds herself trying to match up to the woman who was once the love of her husband's life.

The story starts on a simple note, with Polly trying to get a grip on her work.  Her early chapters are full of funny details about her work life.  But the humour peters out soon, and story takes a rather serious turn; serious and even sleazy at times.

I liked the early chapters a lot, and although its nice to read a book where a lot is happening, I wish SO much didn't happen.

The best part about the book is that it is very well written.  Indian fiction is not always well edited, but that is a fault this book does not, thank god, suffer from.

The book is classified as a 'Metro Read'. On a few trips on the metro in Delhi, I have seen girls reading books.   So I suppose, given the category, the book is pretty good.


Smita said...

Hmmm I had recived feelers for the 2nd book but I didn't go nd buy it because mann nahin kiya!! Penguin has come up with a series "Metro Reads" to target the metro city crowd, the books in this series are quick, racy & contemporary. But 50 50 chances of being good & bad :D

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