Down the Road – Review in Epic Magazine

Down the Road

Grey Oak Publishers

Rs 195


Down the Road, 28 Campus Tales By 16 Authors, published byGrey Oak Publishers, India, is a refreshing and pleasant read. Edited by Ahmed Faiyaz, author of two previous novels Love, Life and all That Jazz and Another Chance, and author Rohini Kejriwal, the book is a beautiful amalgamation of a variety of different flavours of writing. Written by a few first time authors, many still students living on campuses, the book effortlessly takes you back to the fun and formative years of school and college where life was primarily about friends, first crushes and yet some embarrassing and painful moments as well.

Ranging from best selling author Ira Trivedi’s forbidden love story “The Music Room”, which follows the innocent relationship between a spirited school cricket captain and the coy music teacher, to Ahmed Faiyaz’s humorous account of a British school master in “Reason”, all these stories have the ability to provide a momentary, yet polite, glimpse into the lives of their characters. Like each of us, they experience emotions such as the joy of love and togetherness, or the pain of loss and grief, and struggle with anxiety, guilt and homesickness.

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Buy the book on – Flipkart – – Rs 117


Delhi is not far: Review

Book Review
Delhi is not far by Ruskin Bond
A novella
Published by Penguin India
Rs 150
Momentous things happen elsewhere, in the big cities of Nehru‘s India. In dull and dusty Pipalnagar, each day is like another, and ‘there is not exactly despair, but resignation’. Even the dreams here are small: if he ever makes it to Delhi, Deep Chand, the barber, will open a more up-to-date salon where he might, perhaps, give the Prime Minister a haircut; Pitamber will trade his cycle-rickshaw for the less demanding scooter-rickshaw; Aziz will be happy with a junk-shop in Chandni Chowk. None, of course, will make that journey to Delhi.
Adrift among them, the narrator, Arun, a struggling writer of detective novels in Urdu, waits for inspiration to write a blockbuster. One day he will pack his meagre belongings and take the express train out of Pipalnagar. Meanwhile, he seeks reassurance in love, and finds it in unusual places: with the young prostitute Kamla, wise beyond her years; and the orphan Suraj, homeless and an epileptic, yet surprisingly optimistic about the future.
This little gem is a departure from the affable Mr. Bond’s usual writings. Its not a ghost story and it isn’t set in the hills of Mussoorie or the plains of Dehradun. Instead, this one begins and ends in little Pipalnagar. A place where people wait, in most cases for a lifetime, to move on to a better life. Ruskin Bond paints a vivid and nostalgic picture of small town life in Nehru’s India, the little lanes, the barbershop in town, the customs one followed, the small talk between town-folk who all happen to know each other. It transports you to a time and age in India’s history where people had simple aspirations of a better life, and underlying that, a sense of contentment in their lives. Their lives were limited not just by the size of the town but also their mindset as most didn’t know about what lay for them outside the dusty lanes of Pipalnagar.
The treatment is contemplative and brooding. Perhaps it was written at a time when Ruskin Bond was struggling to sell his stories and make a living. He has a keen sense of place and time, and the characters from Kamla, Arun and Suraj to Aziz, Deep Chand, Ramu

Book Cover

and Pitambar, have been well fleshed out through their mannerisms and reflections on life. A beautiful piece in Indian literature about life in the forgotten towns. One that can be put away after reading and can be revisited on a rainy day.

The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein

The cover

A New York Times Bestseller

Published by Harper Collins

A Review

I happened to be in Borders, and saw the picture of the top of the dog’s head on the cover. I picked it up to take a closer look. I was intrigued, and knew that I had to read the book. Have you ever looked at a dog and wondered whether there might be more to him than meets the eye? Enzo, a Labrador – terrier mix knows he is different from other dogs. He still thinks that you can’t beat chasing birds once in a while, but he is almost human. Through listening to the words of his master, race driver, Denny Swift, Enzo, has got a deep and real insight into the complex world of people. With its unexpected twists and turns, he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply going fast.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his much loved family have been through. He remembers Denny’s sacrifices, his love for Eve, and her loss to a terminal illness, the longing to be with his daughter, and the painful court battle to gain her custody from a set of manipulative grandparents. Enzo, heads into light, hoping to return in another life as a man.

The story of Enzo’s (a dog who loves fast cars) life and his family told from his perspective was one of the memorable experiences of my reading life. I could identify with the deep, strong feelings that the dog and characters expressed. I believe this is a truly inspiring, and beautiful story – heartbreaking, philosophical, witty, hilarious and poignant in its handling of the husband – son, father – daughter relationship. Gareth does well to bring Enzo alive as the narrator who is nearly human. Its a compelling tale of the battle against all odds and the triumph of the human spirit. Its about where good karma can take you if you have resilience and patience, as Denny does after losing his wife, his daughter, being under debt and being accused of an act he did not commit. Fans of Tuesdays with Morrie, Johnathan Livingstone Seagull and Marley and Me can rejoice.

The Pat Hobby Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Published by Scribner/ Simon & Schuster

A review

A collection of 17 stories first published in Esquire magazine by the acclaimed author of The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night. It is a self – study, a nostalgic satire set in Hollywood which Fitzgerald was once a part of. The character: Pat Hobby, a once famous screen writer who worked on $ 3,000 a week, had a wife and home, and a pool in his backyard. He was a useful ‘resource’ in the days of silent films, but is now a down-and-out screenwriter trying to claw himself back into the game. Each of the stories recount his hilarious attempts at breaking into show business and taking on small, temporary writing assignments with old time producers. Written when Fitzgerald himself worked in Universal studios it depicts the rise and fall of talent in a hilarious and believable way. Pat Hobby’s attempts to get himself writing credits, draw upon someone else’s story ideas, and take on other upcoming screenwriters often backfire, and he ends up spending more time in the pub or the lot than in the studios writing for the screen. Read it for a hilarious insider view on life in Hollywood, and the trappings of power and fame, that leave the likes of Pat Hobby lusting for more. A collection that I wish was longer.

Review by: Ahmed Faiyaz, a book lover, who wishes to spend most of his time sipping chai and taking long walks in quiet hill stations alternating it with lying in a hammock and reading all day. He is the author of the bestselling, Love, life & all that jazz…and Another Chance. His stories have appeared in Urban Shots, published by Grey Oak Publishers. He is also a guest reviewer of books for Asian Age/ Deccan ChronicleHelter Skelter India and The Tossed Salad.

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The Confessions of Sultana Daku by Sujit Saraf


The book cover

Book Review: An Excerpt

First Published in Helter Skelter

The story begins when Sultana is waiting in cell for a British officer, Lt. Col. Samuel Pearce. Under the influence of charas a day before he is to be executed, he wants to lay bare the story of his life to the British officer so that it can be read later by Sultana’s son. Sultana misses his son dearly and hopes for a better life for him.

Through the night, Sultana gets nostalgic about his past while talking about his grandfather, a man who could open any lock and burgle any house under different disguises. He narrates how he learns the trade from his grandfather, their life in the camp, where the bhantu community, seen by the British as thieving, low class criminals, were confined and the Muktifauj taught from the ‘Shepherd’s’ book. The story builds up with his friends, Bhurey, Gajendar, and others he makes at the camp, and their discontentment with their confined surroundings. They escape after Bhurey kills Adjunct Anand—this is where the pace accelerates. The rest of the story is about how Sultana builds a band of men and loots baniyas and other communities in surrounding villages while taking shelter in nearby forests. The police is often hot on their trail, but thanks to a mix of ingenuity and good luck, Sultana and his boys manage to get away. At one point, even Jim Corbett (Carpet Sahib) joins the police in hunting Sultana down.

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Review by: Ahmed Faiyaz, a book lover, who wishes to spend most of his time sipping chai and taking long walks in quiet hill stations alternating it with lying in a hammock and reading all day. He is the author of the bestselling, Love, life & all that jazz… and Another Chance. His stories have appeared in Urban Shots, published by Grey Oak Publishers. He is also a guest reviewer of books for Asian Age/ Deccan Chronicle, Helter Skelter India and The Tossed Salad.