Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Love Collection (Urban Shots) - A Review

Love is sacred, yet to many lost and caught in this web of society, it remains forbidden. Love is universal, yet to most who devote all their senses to its pursuit, it remains elusive. Love is ethereal, yet it is defeated more often than not by considerations real and pragmatic. Love is love, yet in this one word lies a myriad of emotions ranging from happiness to anger to jealousy to possessiveness to sorrow to calmness. Love, as we see and feel it around ourselves today is simple and complex at the same time. The variegated hues of this simple-and-complex phenomenon and its diverse manifestations- some lovely, others ugly- is what is explored in another brilliant anthology published as a continuation of the Urban Shots series. This offering of short stories is aptly named- The Love Collection.

The above paragraph surmises with flair the moods, thoughts and emotions I underwent while reading the stories picked up by editor Sneh Thakur to be published in this compendium. Compiling 31 stories by as much as 27 different authors must have been a daunting task for Thakur (who quite adorably refers to herself as 'pint size Rapunzel'- a description I cannot quite get over), given that 'love' is an emotion all of us like to talk/write about. It serves perhaps as the first motivation for nascent writers to put pen to paper. Not guided by a uniformity of writing style, guided solely by a common emotion running through the 30 odd stories- the book could have faltered on many aspects- the most important being monotony or stereotyping. Love is not always dreamy. It is not always like a bollywood movie. And much as we would like to argue, in real life, it is not always depressive and unyielding. This book does well to explore the many shades, including the greys, of love and compile them in neatly. Each story stands out on its own. I could not compare or hold any two similar in the essence they portrayed. For this, the editor and the various authors deserve a proud pat on the their back.

Having stated in clear terms that I loved this book, two or three stories left me sorely disappointed. May be because they did not appeal to the dreamy lover in me, may be because I hate to associate depressiveness (almost clinical) with love. Very rarely does it happen that I leave a whole book unfinished; much too rare is the case with short stories. In this book, while there were stories which I devoted time to rereading, there were some I did not feel like finishing. That said, I would still strongly recommend this book to readers of contemporary Indian fiction. The stories contained in this book are stories about characters whom we meet in real life, characters we identify with, characters we hope we would meet someday and characters we thought existed only in stories. Exploring diverse backgrounds, wading through different emotional topographies, these stories are perfect to discover and understand and even amuse oneself with varying facets of love. While in some stories this emotion dominates, in others its subtle; in yet others it chooses to lurk around the periphery.

Importantly, reading for quite sometime titles under the Urban Shots series, I have come to realize that short stories are the perfect, breezy metro reads that can fit into demanding schedules of the day. You can leave anywhere, pick up anywhere, and still not feel lost. If the book lover inside you feels suppressed unwantonly because of compulsions of material world, The Love Collection might be a good place to start at. 3 stars on 5 it is for me. My quintet from this collection-

1. Making Out by Hina Siddiqui
The Editor's pick, and appropriately so. The title explains much, and hides much for what this story might be about.
2.Strangers by Ahmed Faiyaz
Begins normally, ends eerily. One of Ahmed's best short stories I have read.
3. Twisted by Lipi Mehta
You thought it was simple, but actually it was not. Exploring a different side of love.
4. The Jhalmuri Seller by Bhabhani Shankar Kar
The simplicity touched me. Simple, but beautiful and a little more than just a tale of nascent love.
5. Reality Bytes by Anitha Murthy
Will touch you, I guarantee. This was one of those I reread.

and I would also mention one which does not leave my mind, for it was one of the only which pandered beautifully to the romantic within me- A Girl Can Dream by Ayesha Khanna.

Once again, a very satisfying read. 

(Reviewed on request from Grey Oak-Westland)

15 comments:

  1. would definitely get my hands on this one . . thanks for the review . . have a good day :)

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    1. Hope you have a good time reading this one :)

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  2. What a briliant review...comprehensive and to the point. Would love to get this book.

    Glad to have found you at indiblogger. Your newest follower and a regular visitor now.
    cheers
    Kajal

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    1. Thank you so much Kajal! Welcome to Nascent Emissions. I'm hoping you find a lot of stuff here which appeals to you. Do let me know of your feedback. Keep dropping by!

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  3. "different shades of love", you've said it. A very balanced review. Its true that some stories appeal to some people and not to others, but its nice to hear that there is something in there for everyone. As I happen to be one of the authors in the collection, I take a bow.

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    1. You positively should :)

      Amazing is the fact that you take out time and leave a comment each time. Its easier to write with heart when you know people out there are reading.

      The other reviews shall be up soon. Yet again, Strangers was a pleasant read.

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  4. To love and be loved! Thank you for such a thoughtful review. I feel a sense of immense pride to see the works of debutant writers make it to the favourites. My congratulations to everybody on this collection for writing honest and soul baring stories.

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    1. I am only hoping I can include myself among those young brand of debutante writers someday :)

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  5. What catches attention is the cover of the book... I think that and the title of the book are alluring enough for me to pick this book.. Your review is another good reason to include it in my TBR.. Will check out for on my India visit!

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    1. Are you going to be visiting soon?

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    2. A few months left for the same.. Will be in India in sep-oct

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    3. Thats wonderful. I know nothing about you, it still feels good to know you will be around here soon :)

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  6. Wow...I should really read this one! Thanks for the review :)

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    1. Oh, you definitely should :)
      In fact, I am finding Crossroads, from the same series, a tad better. Read that.

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  7. Hi,

    I liked your blog. I thought that we could do a few cross blog things.

    Would you be interested in reviewing my new book "Love, Peace and Happiness:What more can you want?"

    I could do an author interview on yours. I could also post your review on my fanpage referenced below which has more than 10,000 fans giving you a whole new set of visitors.

    Let me know if this makes sense for your blog.

    Rituraj Verma, author
    www.facebook.com/BookLPH
    www.riturajverma.com/blog
    email:riturajverma2005@gmail.com

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