In the busy times that we live in, we love to take short cuts. Everything, except the average height of people, seems to be getting shorter and quicker. From songs to films to T-Shirts and even skirts, everything seems to have faced the short-gun line of fire. Even so that short films are becoming a rage and people my age, would rather learn from short stories than to spend hours reading fat literatures. One such compilation is Rituraj Verma’s latest book Love, Peace and Happiness. A collection of nine short stories set in modern India, this book explores the waters of love, sex, happiness and peace, as the name suggests. What is truly remarkable about the book is that while the author has published nine stories, at the end of each story, he gives us links to alternate endings of the same stories. Also, he asks the user to submit his own version of the endings too on his blog. In a way, I feel, Love, Peace and Happiness is the most liberating book that I have come across. You may not like the ending, in print, of a particular story, but you may agree with another view presented in its alternate.
There are nine stories in the book:
- A high like heaven
- The emotional cripple
- The intimacy of space
- The practitioner of austerity
- The victim of many loves
- The soul mate theorist
- The facebook stalker
- The night of the affair
- The pursuit of perfection
Each story is a different take on different people stuck in gullible situations of love, mostly. Caught between the shackles of love, fidelity and responsibility, the author tastes tricky waters of broken relationships, one night stands and uneasy love. Unfortunately, the format of books with alternate endings is such that one cannot comment on the stories oneself, but as far the plot of the stories are concerned, some work, while some don’t, for me atleast.
What I found best about the book was that it is easy to relate with some of the characters as they are borrowed from your daily life or you have met them somewhere or the other, while you are fascinated by the others. There are a couple of characters that I would have loved to meet. You may find it difficult to logically assess the situation that the main characters face, but in ways more than one, on a deeper scale you tend to disagree with the actions. While reading stories, happy endings are all that we wish to read, but that is not always the case. Similarly, the endings in print, here, are sad and abrupt but you usually see lingering ends of relationships around you, not the way this is.
As far as the writing is concerned, the dialogs are a bit forced. Thoughts are repeated and the print I have did not come typo-free too. Useless details are thrown at your faces through lines spoken by characters, though the same information could have been delivered in the form of a narrative. The writing is too simplistic and when there is a faint line of connection between two stories here and there, you suddenly expect all the stories to be different links of a giant jigsaw puzzle but alas, that never happens. As a book, it is just about okay when you got nothing better to do on a rainy day, but on that kind of a day, the puddles in the mud might interest you more.
My Rating: 2.5/5