Friday, July 20, 2012

Man of a Thousand Chances

I started reading this book without knowing much about the author, including the gender. I was under the impression that the author is male and hence, while reading the book, mid way, I was surprised at the depiction of domesticity. It is true then, women write differently, and one can make that distinction, at least in this case. 
That said, its good Chennai writing, replete with local lingo and what wonderful true-to-life depiction of dusk on the beach. If one has not seen it, one will not fully appreciate the beauty of that scene, of fire flakes showered in the sir from corn, merry go rounds, fortune tellers etc. However what could have made it great, that touch of fate, of indeterminate pull towards a karmic solution to the whole conundrum, is absent. The fortune teller- what wonderful chance it was to showcase a touch of the occult, it was used but without any enthusiasm, makes it almost without meaning. Karma- the story hinges on it, and yet, what is the cause and what is the effect? The lost boy, the daughters marriage, which is concluded successfully, the theft of the precious historical artifact, from which the protagonist is forgiven too conveniently... it seems the pawn broker is the one who had sinned... Karma seems to have lost its way somewhere. And the characters- apart from the protagonist, none of them come to the fore as totally explained. I would form half a view about a character and then change my mind in the next chapter... they dont build in natural progression, especially that of the coin collector.
It is a good book which could have been great if the situations were tweaked and used, but the prose is eminently readable without being prosaic, the bane of Indian writing today!

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