Book Review: An exemplary, inspiring kaleidoscope of stories

Book Review: An exemplary, inspiring kaleidoscope of stories

By RENÉE RANCHAN | | 28 May, 2016

Cocktale Carnival

Author:  Chetaan Joshii

Publisher: Stellar

Pages: 328

Price: Rs 350


Fantasy and imagination are unique traits gifted to the human mind. Conjuring up mesmerising plots, nerve-wracking situations, evolving characters in varied shades of grey, and weaving them skillfully through a web of pulsating words could be truly daunting. For making up stories that shake and stir with a gripping narrative and nail-biting finish, is a rare accomplishment. And storyteller Chetaan Joshii succeeds phenomenally, as he serves a delectable feast on a literary platter with a condiment of heady cocktail that swiftly metamorphoses into mock-tales with multiple concoctions.  

Joshii revels in this surreal universe, and plays the creator, spinning yarns. He sets the ball rolling and raises the curtain with “A Quagmire in Turquoise Ink”, scoffing at a malady called Writer’s Block, and how the author triumphs over that deflated state. In “Love Dual”, a man is characterized with split personality, where both his personas fall in love with the same woman, thus, creating a love triangle between two people. “The Curious Case of the Stolen Heart” is a delightful spoof on the detective genre that keeps you chuckling. “Radioactive Love” engages you with its peculiar assumption that “love” is a radioactive element that begins to diminish to half its size with every cycle. “His Master’s Vice” is a college tale, where a classmate turns ventriloquist, and begins to rag his bête noire leading to dark consequences. The penultimate in fantasy is, “Swansong for a Tune Unborn”, wherein one of the seven music notes ceases to exist, causing havoc among the composers.

In this churning of human emotions, while the writer makes his protagonists take a roller-coaster ride, and they strive to stay afloat with inherent impiety or ferocity amid their predicament, the reader too shares the angst as curiously, for this flight of fancy has its own rationale grounded in the realities of life. It becomes increasingly riveting with a peep into the realm of birds and animals. A duckling aspires to be a swan in “Oogly, the Duckling”, and a cat and mouse chase in “Mousetrap” offers a hilarious rendition with the feline and rodent brilliantly outwitting each other.

The curtain falls with “The Curse of O. Henry”. An adolescent discovers a book authored by O. Henry, and autographed for his great grandfather, whom he met in Chicago. A clairvoyant, the grand old warns his great grandson to refrain from emulating the Henry style (which invariably in the end has a twist in the tale), or else he would be inflicted with the curse of oblivion and debarred from limelight. How this mystery unveils is quite sumptuous!

A trainer of creative writing, certified by the British Council, Joshii conducts workshops, teaches in media colleges, pens film scripts, and also lends his creativity to advertisements, documentaries, and corporate films. For budding writers, aspiring to invade the world of letters, Cocktale Carnival could well be an exemplary kaleidoscope of short stories that would inspire them to imbibe this genre. 


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