Monday, 24 October 2016

Book Review - Dissent - A collection of short stories by Deepak Kaul

Review of the short story collection:
This collection of short stories consists of stories written by the author based on the different prompts given by different authors for Write India contest run by The times of India. It ran for a year, and based on the stories developed from the prompt given, adhering to the rules stated by them, the winners were selected.

Here, we have the author's various submissions as a collection.

It consists of 11 short stories. And afyer having read them all, I just couldn't stop myself from saying that they were all very different. May be peculiar would be a better word.
The author has started the stories with the prompt, and some stories were totally unexpected developments, from my point of view.

In the first story, 'Dissent' which was a prompt given by Amish Tripathi, if i remember correctly, it was weaved perfectly. It talks about a girl named 'Ilaa', and you could not help but wonder about how chauvinism has been existing through many centuries, and still women are forced to fight their way up. It was a good start for the whole collection.

The next one 'Hell's angel' is based on a prompt by Chetan Bhagat. Here, the author has created a story taking in inputs from the current scenario- beef ban. He has written about how the ban affects the life of a chef, whose aim in life was to become 'chef de cuisine', and all crumbles up with the ban. This was a very good take from the prompt. You have to take the story from where the chef sits in a coffee shop, with a blood stained blue scarf holding a knife. You could not think of many plot involving both the calmness of the shop, and the cruelty of the blood stained scarf. Overall, i felt that this was better than the others.

In the next story, 'All In', the author has taken the suspense element as the main plot. You do not know what to expect until a few paragraphs, and with that the suspense dies and the story just carries on.

In 'L.C.A' , the author has written the story based on the prompt given by Ravi Subramaniam. This was actually a paragraph from his novel, which was not released when the prompt was given. Here the theme is adultery. And the story is about it too. But, the whole story felt like a few pages from a 500 page novel. In a short story, the whole story is said in a few pages, and the element of surprise and interest should be carried throughout. But, this short story lacked story in it. If it had been a page in a novel, i would have been very glad to have accepted it. But, it was not, and so, i felt it could have been done better.

The next one is 'Mirage'. The prompt actually had good content for a romantic fight, or an unrequited love. It would have been better to have dealt that with some pain of romance involved. The author has made this into an adulterated romance. And we get to see 'her' views. And if 'his' views were there, it might have been better.

In 'Taboo', it is no wonder that it is about love which is not possible because of Taboo. What seemed like a love triangle from the beginning changes to something very different all together in the last line. And throughout the story, you are given no hint, and it stands in your face in the last line, and you will have no idea about how to feel about it.

'Void' is one of my favourites in this collection. It is about the protagonist meeting his ex after a few years. The way the author has portrayed the hidden feelings of the protagonist makes you like this story. It will always be tough seeing the one you still love, not in love with you. It is on point in this story.

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