February 21, 2012

Nostalgia Attacks The Campus - A Book Review

Down The Road - Edited By Ahmed Faiyaz And Rohini Kejriwal
 Grey Oak Publications
 Genre - Contemporary Fiction - Short Story Anthology (28 stories by 16 authors)
 Paperback, Pages 216, Price  INR 195 
 (Currently for sale only in the Indian Sub-continent)

This collection takes a trip down memory lane into the campus experiences both high school and college.  Not  just about 'a carefree life and fun times' as many parents believe but also a journey through the pains and trials of soon to be grown ups.
As the blurb says:
An exciting and eclectic collection of short stories that bring out all those memories - unforgettable, warm, thrilling and at times embarrassing - of life and the times in school and college campuses.

The stories are broadly dived into four sections. The first category “Attendance Is Compulsary” deals with antics both within and outside the high school classroom. Most of these deal with teenage crushes and romances, some in a breezy manner with a quirky ending that made me do a high five like ‘Down The Road’ by Ahmed Faiyaz. A couple like ‘Rishi And Me’ by Ira Trivedi and ‘Sororicide’ By Paritosh Uttam twisted and pulled at the heart strings.

 The second grouping “Festivals, Elections And Placements” as the title suggests deal with other aspects of campus life. Some like the tale ending of ‘ Loves Me, Loves Me Not’ by Vibha Batra that made me laugh, ‘Between Friends’ By Paritosh Uttam which had me cringing. ‘The Cafe With No Name’ by Sneh Thakur, the endearing story that reminded me of the Irani cafes with their bun maska and chai that once dotted the Mumbai landscape. And the ‘Setting’ by Ahmed Faiyaz the brilliant, twisted ending of which, had me commiserating.

Further down the pages, “Lights Out” deal with the end of the golden days and career beginnings. Here ‘The Worm That Turned’ by Malathi Jaykumar was a inspiring read albeit the embarrassing beginning. Short and hard hitting ‘Bellow Yellow’ by Chinmayi Bali raised uncomfortable questions. 

The final section “Looking Back”  literally has, now well established  protagonists turning back to individuals from the school, who made a difference in their lives.Of these, the thought provoking 'Strangers In Strange Places'by Abhijit Bhaduri struck a chord. I enjoyed the very different read ‘Accidental Start’ By Kunal Dhabalia as well as the cheeky 'Remember Me' by Ahmed Faiyaz.
I found interesting, the well researched,  finale essays ‘Fiction On Campus’ by Sonia Safri and ‘Bollywood On Campus’ by Aseem Rastogi.

I loved the quirky, twisted endings which leaves room for possibilities an imaginative brain can explore.
I also loved the use of realistic settings and reactions which give many of the stories that personal touch.
Each of the author has a distinct writing style and some managed different writing voices effortlessly.

A major grouse I have with a few of the stories was the abrupt ending. A couple of them felt, with due respect, written by those who love to hoard their words rather than let them out. In some cases, I am sort of  unhappy with the stories, for the simple reason 'I didn't want them to end'. 

 Since this not the first publication for many of the authors, they have seemingly honed their craft to capture the moments with candid humour, subtle sarcasm, often exploring painful emotions with raw honesty. The conversationalist styles of most of the works coupled with  fast paced story lines makes for a quick, entertaining read. It earns in my capacity as a reviewer a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

I would recommend this collection for any one looking for  good stories well told, who want a fictional rendition of their own personal experiences. Not a heavy duty anthology though some of them would fall into that category.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.comParticipate now to get free books!

 Personal Disclaimer: Though this Collection was a free copy received for the purpose of review, the post in entirety is my basic impression after reading the book twice. It is not based on intervention by the authors, editors, publishing house or the blogging forum.

Other Books
A bloggette friend Annalisa Crawford has released  Cat & the Dreamer in the Genre: Contemporary Women / New Adult . Available from Amazon, B&N, and other places.
Here for links.  Do check it out.
Since I won her E book Novella at a blog guest post...my review will be up this Friday or Saturday.


Li said...

Looks like a great read! I'm sorry it isn't available to me :-(

nutschell said...

great review. :) Oh and I do write female protagonists too(In fact my current WIP has a female lead). Its just that I find male protagonists more challenging to write and I love a challenge. :) Whatever I'm writing though, I make sure to have a strong female character in there somewhere

A said...

And another book I've never heard of... I should be ashamed of myself.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

This is a thoughtful, thorough review, Rek. It sounds like a heartfelt book. I like the premise behind "Looking Back."

Be well, my friend.

Miranda Hardy said...

This one escaped me, too. I'll have to check it out.

sm said...

good review

Traci Kenworth said...

And you're tagged!! http://www.tracikenworth.wordpress.com

Jeremy Bates said...

i have to admit im not a big fan of short stories, but they sound interesting nonetheless, nice review

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