LITERARY REVIEW

First Impressions

By Suchitra Behal

First Impressions

First Proof, Penguin, 2005, p.440 Rs. 295.

IF writing is serious business, then sifting through mounds and mounds of the written word more so. It must have taken the editors at Penguin quite a while to put together this collection of authors, some already known through their various articles and contributions to the press and some unknown. The result is a huge anthology of "new" writing. Unlike the tag "new" that is often given by desperate advertising agencies to reinvent sagging sales of old products, this volume lives up to its reputation. With Paromita Vora's "First Time", a sensitive look at the relationship between a screen siren and her benefactor, to "Red White Yellow" by Mita Ghose, there is a lingering feeling of disquiet. Ghose talks about childhood fears and apprehensions and uninvited attentions, through a complex labyrinth of situations of a family that becomes gradually dysfunctional and of a reality that will not fade away. Equally refreshing is Manmohan Malhoutra's "Living Dangerously with V.S. Naipaul", where we learn of an amazing humane side to the great author. "Matunga" by Uma Mahadevan-Dasgupta is a touching account of a father- daughter relationship that takes root in the busy metropolis of Mumbai. If it turns out to be a platform for new talent, Cheers.

The Turning, Tim Winton, Picador, Price not stated.

First Impressions

TIM WINTON'S is a story of growing up in the rough and tumble of middle class America. This is a typical account of non-performing boys out on a limb who finally recreate their sequences with references to family and friends and where conversations date back to parental pressures and school. There are pre-teen gripes and adolescent behaviour that seem part of a cast loosely strung together. It's difficult to see The Turning on anybody's wish list.

The Flood, David Maine, Penguin, 2005, p. 272, Rs. 250.

First Impressions

AS spoofs go, this one touches brilliance. That is, if you know your Bible and the Evangelical faith. Otherwise you could find yourself turning the pages perplexed. It all begins with the story of mankind and Noah's Ark. But here the similarities end. From there on, it's a journey where history and faith are mixed in almost perfect portions to serve up a funny, sumptuous and endearing tale of humankind and its faith in the powers that be. So there is Noe for Noah, his wife and daughters-in-laws and sons, all living together when Noe is suddenly ordained for a higher purpose. Noe tells his sons to build and ark but cannot tell them where to find the wood, and his daughters-in-law to get animals but gives no clues as to where to find them and so on so forth. Ultimately this is a story of the survival of man and the test of a family under duress. Simply put, it's a modern myth recreated around an old story. The difference? This one does not preach.

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