Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Review: 'Kaleidoscope' by SpringTide

Title: Kaleidoscope


Author: Various, SpringTide (Editor)

Genre: Fiction (Short Stories)

Publisher: Parlance Publishers


About the collection: 

Kaleidoscope is a collection of 25 award winning short stories, selected out of numerous stories received in the online contest organized by SpringTide. These stories will make you laugh out loud, scare you out of your mind, make you fall in love all over again, redefine relationships, make you rethink about the social conventions and provoke you to think some more. This book is going to keep you engaged as you move on reading from one spellbinding story to another, not wanting to keep the book down. Do not miss this chance to read some of the finest short stories by amazing new writers!

An eclectic collection of twenty five prize winning stories, this anthology owes its origin to an international short story competition organised by Springtide. The various authors featured in this book represent all four corners of India with a couple of NRIs in it as well. Truly, this book can be termed as the voice of Young India.


Idea behind Kaleidoscope:

SpringTide took this initiative to encourage new writers from different parts of the country and to motivate more and more youngsters to read and write. The contest and the book were very well received in different parts of the country. Parlance publishers, who have been known to promote new talent in the literary field, have added yet another feather to their cap by associating with SpringTide for this contest and giving a chance to this amazing concept.

In the words of Pawas Jain, Founder of SpringTide Magazine, "Kaleidoscope is an attempt to recognize the untapped potential in the literary circle of our country and it aims at increasing the youth participation in literary activities"


Analysis: 

After a very long time, I read a collection of short-stories. Though I am not a very big devourer of this genre, but I like to read them occasionally iff they are written beautifully, i.e., if they have a 'story' in it to capture my reading interest. My favourite short story writers (english) till now have been Ruskin Bond, Roald Dahl, etc.

The book starts with Vivek Banerjee's The Hunter, Best Writer award winner for this book. The story is good, the flow is perfect. There is a surprise twist in the end but it didn't give me the thrills a suspense story should provide. 3 stars (All ratings are out of 5 stars)

Next come remaining Top 5 stories of the contest.

The House by Deboshree Bhattacharjee is a story of old age delusion, and the build-up to the climax is a bit suspenseful but hazy, with a sad but true ending. 2.5 stars

Next comes Tale of the Knitting Yarn by Nabanita Dhar. The story is simple with very less to offer in terms of newness but the evoking of emotions and word imagery provides a sense of longing and belonging quite good. 2.5 stars

Voice Male by Renuka Vishwanathan provides the context of hopeless love/infatuation in modern times. Nice one but predictable. 2.5 stars

A fresh breeze along the book comes in the terms of The Domino Effect by Deepa Duraisamy. The theme is how a chain of interconnected events started by the unaware protagonist changes the life of those who get involved in it. To weave so many different plots into a single story is not an easy task but the author justifies her work here. 3.25 stars

The Hike to the Temple by Prasanna Rao presents us with a horror story, but comes out with an unjustified character who was supposed to provide scariness to the readers. 2 stars

Vaibhav Mukim's Food is a sci-fi tale with a chilling revelation as it moves forward. But its complex and vague plot (in the initial pages) could have been presented much better. 2.5 stars

Happy Puppet by Bhavya Kaushik is the female protagonist's self-confession story about her never-understood emotions by anyone in her cursed life due to a disease revealed at the end. 3 stars

And here comes my favourite read from this book. The story The White Dress written by Garima Nowal is an interesting one to read. First half is an exact replica of a common girl's mind in today's dangerous times, while the remaining part deals with the development of tender feelings towards generosity shown by a complete stranger, with a classic twist in the last sentence. A beautifully penned story; absolutely loved it. 4 stars 

Rafaa Dalvi's Karma is a Bitch is another surprise entertainer, containing a supernatural flair with a delicate caressing of erotica. 3.5 stars

Redemption by Harihar Adarsh is a fantasy tale of an imaginary prince whom destiny beckons. Does he use his gift or falls in the process to unite the world - is the crux of this story with a mythical arc. Nice attempt. 3 stars

Next, Sarvana Kumar Murugan presents The Last Date. A dark romantic tale it is. 2.75 stars

I Love You Too by teenager Khushi Gupta does not endue anything new. A passable attempt at old age love with a background youth story. 2 stars

Nehali Lalwani bestows us with the book's yet another supernatural horror Alive Inside. Same old (similar coverage numerous times in horror movies like those of RGV) and predictable plot if you read carefully and apply some mind. Not a very great attempt. 2.5 stars

Balaganesh Pitchai gives his Theory of Evolution subsequently. A very interesting science fiction notion here. Interesting throughout with an open-mouth twist towards the end. Liked it. 3.75 stars

Next comes 'I' Operated by Smriti Mahale. This one takes up humorous quotient in its belly (which has come up quite good) and offers a delightful read about a girl's frequent visits to a hospital. A refreshing treat indeed. 4 stars

Parul Tyagi's The Star that Shines on Me... is a tale of a lower class Muslim wife, who deals with the disappearance of her husband and taking on life with her four kids through her fantasy bond with a superstar, to find hope in despair, and comfort in loss (phrase quoted from Amrit Sinha's review for Vault of Books). A different story. 3.25 stars

The boy who sold books by Anurag Bhatt doesn't offer anything new again. We all know the story of a protagonist, out of plight and conscience, trying to educate a working, school non-going but enthusiastic boy of 14; but fate has other (nothing interesting here too) plans. Passable. 2 stars

Thereafter, Rahul Biswas gives Chaos to us. A police story with a clash of responsibility towards their duty. How personal tragedy can alter one's mind towards destruction and chaos - is the crux of the story. Nice but bollywood-style events. Liked the way the story is framed. 3 stars

Here comes the most-awaited part (for me). Sanhita Baruah, whose romantic short story I liked much in Uff Ye Emotions earlier; she tries her hand on supernatural horror here with Secret of the murderous wood, but fails to entice. New packaging of an old folk tale with un-gripping narration disenchanted me from her charm this time. 2.5 stars

Aman Mathur bravely attempts the demonstration of the annihilation attitude of human race through his space fiction First Contact set in futuristic time. Heartfelt and hurtful. 3.75 stars

The Journey of My Life by Shishir Dhingra, after picking up quite good, finally disappoints at the end due to its predictable outcome. Some interesting twist could have been inserted to not make it one more forgettable love story. But it has its moments - how opportunity suddenly knocks your door and before you know, you get attracted to someone; how you take the initiative impetus and nurture this initial feeling into love from both sides - is what is beautifully shown here. 3 stars

Aniruddh Naik's story The Unknown Destination caters to the historical fiction genre. The author is successful in creating the interest in the story through Chandragupta Maurya's secret archives at some secret location with a secret society protecting them, but could have moulded the ending in a better way. Liked it though. He should extend this one into a full-fledged novel as it has the potential similar to Ashwin Sanghi's novels. 3.5 stars for now

Crazy Scarf by Prabhat Singh shows our world from a slightly different perspective. I've read such stories earlier but this one doesn't fail to impress also. Love at first sight with a rarebit approach. 3.25 stars

And the last story is When Love Oozed Out Blood by Ayush Agarwal. Initial buildup sets up the tempo but there isn't much to offer as it progresses. The end story should and could have been chosen more appropriately, I say. 2 stars


Conclusion:

I would like to say that only writing a short story does not matter. There should be stuff, somewhat new concept, a content quality to be boasted of, not some already known plots in new, stylized wardrobe in a story. What was more encountered in this book were some average attempts at simply penning down of more or less known/predictable plots. Though there are a few very good tales also, but they are quite lesser in number. Also, the editing needed to be crisper to avoid language fallacies here and there.

That said and done, the positive thing is that the book really covers a diversity of genres taking readers' mind on different emotional rides - some good, some not good, some mixed; unlike some single genre oriented (like Love/Romance only) short story books which come across quite often nowadays. And I hope the next such (diverse) collection by SpringTide and Parlance Publishers would prove to be a better version in its content quality also, alongside the already established variety through this one. All in all, a nice Kaleidoscope of different flavours and colours of life.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5 


P.S. -- Received a review copy from SpringTide founder Pawas Jain in exchange for an honest review

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