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Book: The Arithmetic of Breasts and other stories
Author: Rochelle Potkar
Genre: Fiction, anthology
Publisher: Notebook Press
No. of pages: 115
Cover price: Rs 115
[Shortlisted for The Digital Book of the Year 2014]
It is a book that is brutal, realistic and an ironic amalgamation of anatomy and arithmetic. The book can be critiqued using feminist perspective too, though the element of storytelling, entertainment for mass readers and clever use of language make it impossible to club it as a purely feminist book.
Here is a story-by-story review of the entire anthology-
The Arithmetic of Breasts
An engaging story that matures as the protagonists mature and age. From lust to love, the transformation is life-like, seamless, riveting. That’s the arithmetic of human relationships. The use of mathematical terms to describe human anatomy is clever, and at certain places, metaphorical. The story, overall, stirs you up in bits but falls short of being a memorably great one.
The Room with a Sea-View
A very difficult read but an enlightening one. It tends to philosophize love. It has multiple layers to it, even a strong layer of originality. Some lines are quote-worthy and need to be penciled. Sample this:
His voice was soundless again today.
Use of geometry in this book is fascinating. Eg. The ‘springing buildings’ in this story described as an act by the Geometry God.
The story begins on a queer note, with a girl falling in love with a boy when he’s making out with another girl. There is powerful narration involving polyphony. Description of a suicide scene is so vivid that it is scary. The story is deeply psychological. Author takes you inside the mind of the character. To put it simply in the words of a character- “It is her mind talking to me.”
A fresh story with a fresh plot. It highlights the importance of a face and how a surgical change in it is akin to a change of identity.
The Scent of a Conscience
It is an erotica; not a bland erotica but one that leaves you psychologically shaken. The story questions extramarital affairs but not in its puritan didactic form, rather in its visceral, hedonistic form.
A Place They Call Scary
A hard-hitting story that exposes the hypocrisy and sexual cravings of religious forces in the country, through the eyes of a young girl. The climax rattles you, leaving little difference between a young human girl and a Goddess.
Crisp story. A two-page quick read that ends with a thundering jolt, not waking you out of your leisurely torpor with a shock but rattling your soul with an epiphanic hammer.
The Troll on Page 16
The story gives a peek into the psyche of a lecher. How he fakes complaints to a doctor and thus lives all his fantasies. An absorbing read that sets you up for a revelatory climax that unfortunately never comes.
What Men Want
A very engrossing story if one is wanting to get high. Conversations between old inebriated friends always give a voyeuristic pleasure to readers. But the story comes with no after-effect and, hence, pales in comparison to the other wonderful stories in the book.
As a bonus, the book ends with excerpts (full chapter 1) of Potkar’s debut novel Dreams of Déjà vu.
Should you buy this book? Yes, it is pretty hooking apart from being a highly intelligent book.
[The review was done on request by the author who was kind enough to send me a hard copy after listening patiently to my rants of anti-ebook theories.]