Friday, August 19, 2005

June 2005.
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A book review by Vahishta Mistry

Local is Jaideep Varma’s story of Akash Bhasin, divorcee, struggling advertising copywriter, urban adventurer. To add to his litany of woes (or to get away from it all) Akash decides to stop renting a house and start living on the train. Yes, the suburban Western Line train. He still has his day job, but he just gets on a train in the evening and rides the rails till next morning.

The book is a journey too, in some sense. The main narrative is punctuated by a series of short stories that flesh it out and add depth to each of the characters. Almost every single major character (and some minor ones) are given their own two-to- three-page short story – most of which have a twist (or at least a squirm) at the end.

Varma’s style needs polishing. It doesn’t grate on the nerves – it is in fact, quite a pleasant read – but you’re occasionally jolted out of rhythm by a dissonant word or phrase that sticks out at an odd angle, as though it has been worked into the paragraph at an odd angle, to make things more “literary”.

Apart from that, the book is quite entertaining. It’s not high literature and does not aspire to be. The little anecdotes and incidents tied in with the ad world that are interspersed through the book will definitely make you chuckle, especially you’re an ad student or know how an ad agency works.

Bottomline: If you like Indian authors who write in English, you might want to give Jaideep Varma’s debut effort a try.


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