Book Review: Panorama by Shilpi Chaklanobis

Panorama

Book: Panorama 

Author: Shilpi Chaklanobis 

Publisher: Notion Press 

Genre: A collection of short stories about human emotions

In One Line: Stories showing how one can deal with the agony, depression and sadness that are a part and parcel of our lives.

Characterisation: Being a collection of short stories, this book is not about a single protagonist but at least one in each of the fifteen. What’s good about these ‘players’ is that they are characters who we meet or have already met in our day to day lives. What is a little disconcerting, however, is that almost all the characters have an aura of melancholy about themselves. I missed the presence of happiness, verve and joy in the stories.

Language: The simplicity of her writing matches the simplicity of the lives of the people who form the basis of the stories. What I specially liked were the single line punches that had been added to almost each story. For example:

  • Poverty is like a leech. It doesn’t kill you, but sucks your blood to the extent that you stop living. – Wok
  • Even today I am still trying to figure out what is so spectacular about strolling on the streets of Rajpath at midnight while shivering so hard that you feel like your teeth are going to fall off? – Peanut
  • The beauty of life lies in its motion – The Untimely Death.
  • Thamma had paid a hefty price for her god fearing rituals and frequent fasts – Selective Secularism

I also liked the narrative style of the stories that have been written in the first person. It seems that the character is talking to us. It’s naturally conversational without becoming too casual.

Plot SettingThis collection of stories is not so much about where they have been set but more about the people’s minds. What I liked was that the author picks up issues that we face normally in our lives, in varying proportions, and then plots it into a story.

Book Cover Art: No objections to the rippling water in the background. But nothing to be excited about either. I wish the title had been written in one line too. The cover would have got brownie points from me had it been more of a collage of pictures or sketches depicting the different stories

How’s the Title: ‘Panorama’ means ‘an unbroken view of the whole region surrounding an observer.’ This makes the title apt because the stories are varied and they cover the emotion of pain and melancholy, as felt by the author, well. Just a thought – an open question for the readers – would a tagline, that hinted at the fact that the stories concentrate primary on one emotion rather than the multitude that the human can feel, have helped?

Is The Blurb Catchy: The blurb does its job. It tells a little about the stories and also the kind of stories that they will be.

Learning From The Story: I definitely learnt how one emotion can be kept as the primary focus and written about in so many different ways through different stories.

Areas Of Improvement: Some stories like ‘The Meeting’ and ‘Before It’s Too Late’, after the initial few lines itself, became predictable in its ending. Also some stories, like ‘The Second Tsunami’ wasn’t as impactful and ‘Peanut’ had the song repeated twice and thus seemed more like a page filler. For someone who has done so well with some like ‘The Wait’ and ‘The Sealed Wish’, I wish, the ends to these former ones had been twisted better.

I missed the presence of the more positive emotions like happiness, love, success, unhindered joy. But, something tells me, this was a conscious decision on the author’s part and not because she was lacking in ideas.

Found some grammatical errors like on pages 17 (envelop instead of envelope), 35 (go on date instead of go on dates), 124 (if he hurries instead of if he hurried)

What Is ‘Said By Not Saying’: In life, time and again, we will face situations that will pull us down, question our worth, make us anxious. But troubled times pass. Nothing is forever. What we need is to keep our chin up no matter what, keep the faith, work hard, be honest and sometimes believe that miracles do happen too.

My Reaction When I Finally Closed The Book: smiley group   

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BOOK REVIEW: SITA’S SISTER BY KAVITA KANE

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