Thursday, 14 February 2013

Book Review - The Graveyard Shift

Bombay wakes up at night. The city starts getting interesting only once the Sun drowns itself into an orange  sea and the multitudes get back home to sleep and start getting ready for the next day. As twilight descends  and the mundane is cloaked by darkness it comes alive at various watering holes and picks up speed cutting deals and changing lives. It is on such a dark and sultry night that the novella, The Graveyard Shift is set.

When I got the book written by Ahmed Faiyaz by mail, I was not sure if I wanted to spend time going through it immediately since there were so many other things happening and did not impulsively excite me. The reason perhaps was the cover art. It  is a drab blue and has pictures of a bunch of little-known actors on it.
An Indie motion picture is on its way. I caught the promos on YouTube. That explained the cover art.
It spent days at my bedside, patiently awaiting its turn till I ran out of most reading material and picked it out of habit that compels me to go through anything that's waiting at the said bedside table.

I picked it up and started reading it today while walking around the house, making some tea and taking both the cup and the book into the sunny balcony. It was so easy to read and despite a medley and mish-mash of characters and stories it kept me occupied from start to end. I stood at the balcony, soaking up the Sun and ran through the story  in less than two hours.

It is the kind of book about which one can safely say, "read it on the go." My only advice would be, "stay with the characters otherwise it gets confusing."

Though the language is easy and engaging but, the characters are not and there are a whole lot of them. They are complex and mostly grey making them, well human and thus interesting. It is a rare writer who can present so many characters successfully, paint them with precision to make them stand out on their own and string their destinies together to an interesting climax. If not for anything, it is a good read because it is exciting the way things play out.

The plotting is excellent (though it may not seem so in the beginning) and the story flows through effortlessly giving the reader a glimpse into the lives of the tinsel town's rich and the famous and how their lives and intrigues are crazily intertwined with those who are trying to get 'there'.

It takes you on a roller-coaster ride though the swish suburbs of Bandra and Juhu to the middle-class Oshiwara and Lokhandwala teeming with 'wannabes' fighting for a chance. The plot thickens every moment and... I'm sorry, I cannot reveal any of it. Because if I do, there will be nothing for you to dig into since the book wraps up in just 126 pages - it is a novella!

This is perhaps a retelling of a story that plays out each night in the city but, we never get to be a part of it because, we are not dreamers. We run around trying to make ends meet forgetting to meet our dreams with open arms. This is a story of film stars, prima donnas, businessmen, divas, strugglers, pimps and fixers. It also mixes up occasionally with the lives of some innocent bystanders who fall into it by mistake. In short, as I said, 'a good read'.

Pick it up on a day when you have some time between daily chores and don't want to go shopping or watch the telly. It should be fun.

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