Sunday, March 23, 2014

Book Review - The Labyrinth (Short Stories)

An elaborate maze that Daidalos built to hold Minotaur, the half man half bull creature, in Greek mythology, is the Labyrinth. The maze of fifteen stories built by ten amateur authors, titled Labyrinth (publisher - makes for an engrossing reading. The ‘weekend passion’ of writing by a doctor, chartered accountant, software engineer, copyeditor, and people of other vocations has produced a collection of short stories that will not disappoint you.

The book begins with an excellent story ‘The Martyr’ by Mainak Dhar, a bestselling author. He brings out the life of a teenager ushered into war in a Taliban afflicted strife torn Afghanistan. The display of emotions of teenage boys, the short engaging time-frame in which the story is set and the fate that the glimmer of hope meets makes ‘The Martyr’ one of the best stories of the book.

The stories ‘Puppet show’ by Aditi Chincholi, ‘Travel Through The Night’ by Rishabh Chaturvedi, are psychological thrillers. Though ‘Puppet Show’ makes for an interesting read by the young doctor, ‘Travel Through The Night’ is laborious to read. ‘Bagheera Log Huts’, written by the same author is a typical Bollywood kidnap-by-tribes, marry-tribe-leaders-daughter story which fails to inspire. The doctor ventures to write a gaming-story in ‘Sym-World’ and is interesting. ‘A sparrow came fluttering out of nowhere and circled the console gleefully’ shows the real-life connection with the virtual world that Aditi has effectively brought about.

A drunk driver, an aspiring dancer, a friend and how their lives are connected by an accident and reconnected after it is beautifully written by Richard Fernandes in ‘Crashing Impacts’. Though the story becomes predictable towards the end, it is both emotional and engrossing. Shawn Pereira writes a riveting Russian Roulette, or as it is titled ‘Russkya Rulyetka’, a story of a fathers revenge of his daughter’s death, where the hunter is at the cusp of becoming the hunted in the end. The date and time mentioned in every section gives a clear timeline to the reader.

Rishabh Chaturvedi writes the story of ‘The Labyrinth’ as the last story in the book which explains one of the most famous Greek mythological stories, and is a fitting end to the book. The other stories like ‘Farming on Facebook’, ‘The Night of Wokambee’ fails to hold the interest of the reader. The reason could be the lack of enticing narration. The predictability of ‘A Day of Battle’, being a oft-heard war story of Mahabharat, does not mask the wonderful literary work that it is.

There is a healthy mix of comic, horror, thriller, mythological, sci-fi, pulp and other genres of short stories. An Indian audience would easily relate to many narratives expressed in the book. The influence of probably the most famous short stories writer O Henry is hard to miss. Labyrinth Short stories by, brings short stories of various hues that make for a easy yet rivetting reading.

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