Book: Memories – A Novella
Author: Soumya Mukherjee
Publisher: Notion Press
Genre: Humorous nonfictional fiction that merges with fictional nonfiction.
In One Line: A straight faced humorous take on the author’s life.
Characterisation: This tale is the author’s life. It’s small snippets taken from his life’s journey that he has experienced over the years. Don’t expect a smooth flowing tale that runs for pages enumerating it all. It’s in bits but it is not scrappy. However, he changes the rule a little here. Instead of making it officially his autobiography, he creates a character called the ‘Boy’. There were some other people who came and went in the story, but only the ‘Boy’ remained. Usually when I close a book I try and recall names or at least character specifics of other ‘side heroes’. Here I remembered none. Maybe because the ‘Boy’ hogged the entire mind space. And his characterisation has come out well. But the others? They are way too hazy.
Language: If I were to keep this analysis short, I would say, it’s good English. In fact, almost skewed towards perfection. It clearly shows that the writer is one who thinks in the language that he has written in. But here’s the catch. The book is full of words that the general readers might not be well versed in. I will be honest – I had to open the dictionary for a few as well. Sometimes, that hinders the reading flow. (examples: perfidy,prurient, onanism, libation)
So, here’s a question thrown open to all – when one writes, does he consciously use simple language to make it a ‘light’ read and thus get cursed by the writing Nazis that it’s too flimsy and casual or does he consciously use uncommon / superfluous language to make the reading ‘heavy’ in the hope to make a name for himself among the big honchos of the literary world?
Plot Setting: The story moves around various metropolitan cities of the country. The author picks up words and places to tell us where the story is being told for that period of time. So, while details about the city might not have been there (because the focus of the story was on the protagonist), one doesn’t find it difficult to figure where the occurrences are taking pace.
Book Cover Art: Honestly? I liked the caricatures that have been sketched at the beginning of each chapter much more than the book cover. As for the cover – I Can understand that it’s the ‘Boy’ who ‘did not let studies interfere with his education’; but what the yellow behind it? For some reason one look told me that it was the map of India and the next look told me that it was a group of men standing together! I’m confused.
How’s the Title: ‘Memories’ would have done. ‘A Novella’ wasn’t needed. Why categorise your book? Leave things to the readers imagination. The tagline ‘The Hilarious Nightmare of Growing Up’ is a good one.
Is The Blurb Catchy: The blurb is fine. But a short blurb and more than half the area ‘About the Author’ in the back cover? Appears to be ‘trying-too-hard’! Also the way it has been written is casual and I feel, is a little unprofessional. A humorous book, needn’t have the ‘About the Author’ section written in the same format.
Learning From The Story: This story might have been written in the fictional format, but it has quite a lot of information to improve one’s general knowledge – right from the Babri Masjid to various author names. But this is the one that I liked best. It’s been written in context to the fact how erotica in literature titillates the mind much more than a pornographic magazine does. I quote: ” Likewise Kalidasa provided titillation with taste, the way poor Anonymous could not dream of.”
Areas Of Improvement: There are a few places where the same information has been repeated. For example about the mother in page 3 and page 7; the first page of chapter 4 talking about ‘Calcutta as it was called then’ twice on the same page (!); about the ‘Boy’ discreetly removing books that had erotica being repeated on page 35 and then in 40.
Page 11 – the word ‘alphabets’! Does the ‘s’ exist? When one has an excellent grip over the language, then even a single mistake from him looks like an eye sore.
What Is ‘Said By Not Saying’: It’s actually said, but indirectly, in the book’s dedication. We, the parent, does what we feel that we can’t, at least once in our life, because the child shows that faith in us.
My Reaction When I Finally Closed The Book:
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