George Bernard Shaw once famously said “Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby!” Going by his quote I should be a happy (wo)man. Being a bibliophile, book reviewing should be my ‘happy’ job. However, the reality is different. In this age of self-publishing, paid publishing and the merry gang of bankers turned authors, finding a ‘good’ book is as rare as finding a jewelled squid.
In my initial days as a book reviewer, I used to look forward to the book couriers, however now I dread them. Most of the books that I receive for reviewing have pathetic storyline, abysmal grammar, horrendous narrative style and in one word most of them are “unreadable” (if I may use the term). However, “Window Seat” by Yashluv Virwani came like a breath of fresh air. After a long time I enjoyed reading a book and writing this review.
It is said that the opening line of a book is very important and in this book the first line itself hooked me to the book. I knew, after reading the first line that this book was going to be different. The author is a magician of words, in the entire book the line between prose and poetry gets blurred. Characters are described in alliteration “She had a slender nose and tender ears”. The book is said to be a compilation of 8 short stories but honestly the reader will not find any story as such. The stories have no definite plots with beginning, middle, climax and end but only silky smooth emotions flowing like molten chocolate. In all the eight stories the characters have no names because “names are only pretence, something that stories never require, they carry a baggage of races, countries, boundaries and religions. Also in a way, they turn you passive and control your imagination- stories don’t deserve such shallow treatment, they’re meant to be somewhere close to spiritual.”
The stories are not simple narration but more of conversations between characters. The characters talk about simple moments because “conversations were always made up of these little build-ups and never the huge build ups.”
There is a lot of “intertexuality” used in this book. The author was honest to state his inspirations from books like Veronika decides to die and Interpreter of maladies. The story Cliché refers heavily to Coelho’s Veronika Decides to Die. The protagonist names herself as Veronika and she is a prostitute who meets Faiz. The character of Faiz is again inspired by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and who like his namesake wants to feel things and not understand them.
The characters in these stories comes from different walks of life and are varied in every way, so you have a prostitute who paints her walls to fill colour in her life, a housewife who imagines talking to her tenant, a lesbian who becomes a writer, an unconventional freckled woman who has accepted herself and a musician. Each character has things to tell you. They literally talk to you.
This book talks about “soulgasm” and while reading it I could actually feel one. This book is not a book that you can read in one go, rather this book should be relished like the way we relish chai on a rainy day or winter evening, sipping slowly, filling your senses with the flavour. The last thing that I wish to say about this book is exactly what the character Veronika said in this book “Ah!! The way you write is pure intoxication.”