Down the Road – A Review

28 campus tales by 16 authors.  225 pages. I’ll finish it over a weekend, or so I thought. Surprisingly, I found myself taking more than a few days to relive the nostalgia the foreword promised.

The book kicks off with Down the Road, a geek finding himself to the backdrop of a love story by Ahmed Faiyaz.  The next one by Ira Trivedi takes an interesting look at a girl’s guilt for losing a good friend and lover to temptation from the dark side. More stories explore dealing with bully professors, a bully in love, falling out of love; falling back in, belongingness and coming of age.

Ira Trivedi takes another dark turn with The Music Room. It comes as no surprise when the end notes list her other published work.  The book seems to have a good mix of established names and first timers. Finding this at the end, shows that it is a good read. 

A few i would recommend reading

  • The silent way in which men bond  – The Cafe with No Name, Sneh Thakur
  • Kane and Able of campus politics – One And One Eleven, Prateek Gupta
  • The jhol to arrange your love marriage – Setting, Ahmed Faiyaz
  • I am a sucker for old man young boy stories – The Worm That Turned, Malathi Jaikumar
  •  It’s different! – Bellow Yellow, Chinmayi Bali
  • Have experienced this first hand. – Strangers in Strange Places, Abhijit Bhaduri

As a future reader a few notes to the authors – Tell me stories; don’t think how to figure a big word in your narration. As much as I hate to agree with Chetan Bhagat, don’t write to impress your English teachers.  If you write stories about the head boy falling for the head girl, who will write about the fumbling middle benchers? 🙂

Final Verdict: Read it for some nostalgia, there is a story that will resonate with you.

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Disclaimer: I had been asked by the publishers to review the book, found it worth my time.

A Million Little Pieces – James Frey

There are books that you read, there are books that you chew on and then the books that slap you out of pretence, pull your hair up, look you in the eye and talk.

James Frey claims this to be his account of the 6 weeks he did in a rehab facility for addiction. The book starts with him waking up in an airplane nose broken, cheek torn and hurting in all possible places. His worry isn’t how he will fix it rather he wonders where he was and how he got there to begin with. An addict for 10 years he had suffered a lot, wrecked more, and is just 23.  After the first five pages you are left in no doubt that there has to be a new low that needs to be defined before James could fall to it.

Book Cover

Cover Art

Addiction is usually associated with a substance of choice… alcohol, cocaine, industrial glue, petrol or sex. Its like how your college degree has the subject of choice behind it. You did your engineering but you are a mechanical engineer as you chose it to be your favourite from all other streams. James has no such dilemma he was addicted to EVERYTHING.

Curious enough i was expecting a sombre account of his pain infested life that lead to him being this way. But i was surprised by how less frequent are these references, how the author tries to stay away from the actions of his past that would surely make a compelling read. The writing is steadily progressive and it takes some time, to get accustomed to the way he has written the book. Its unconventional writing makes you run along with him.. his instant burst of emotions, the internal conflict he faces, the fickle attempt at hope and a lot of other emotions that one feels while going through internal reform.

The internal conflict is what draws me to this book. James is smart; he is intelligent and has no pretext. He accepts his current state is a net result of the way he has lived his left and the choices he made. He is an atheist and responds with resent to all attempts at making him embrace the 12 steps of AA and the belief in a higher power.

Shame.Rage.Need.Hunger.Disgust.Hatred.Shame. its a cycle. He is fully aware of his problems and his intelligible approach in resolving his issues are an interesting read.

Clearly new to blogging and completely oblivious to the difference between a book review and a book recreation, in the 400 odd words i have only touched upon a few areas that this book deals with!

This i will say, READ IT.

Its an important book that gives dignity to the disease of addiction – YUP! Its a disease, incurable and uncontrollable by medicine.. even the HIV virus can be delayed by a few years until it converts to a fully blown AIDS disease. Recovering addicts need constant care and monitoring. They have an intense internal conflict.. the urges to reach that blissful climax. There is no quick fix solution and enduring is the only way out. Some awareness in this general direction is very critical to identify early signs and change behavioural tendencies to break the patterns commonly seen in addiction.

The books also has a love story and fair bit of bromance. Your fair share of brawls and punches.. verbal and otherwise. Family, disintegrated but together in trouble. Nothing spectacular. But all in the context of his addiction and what he is going through.. It makes a compelling read.

James finds his totem in Taoism the philosophy of flow and nothingness. I end this with my favourite Definition of Tao –

There is a thing inherent and natural, which existed before heaven and earth. Motionless and fathomless, It stands alone and never changes; It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted. It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe. I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme

Edit: As i set to post this, the trending topic on twitter is #SignsOfaCokeHead. Unfortunate that addiction a social mockery, much like retard.