BELIEVE ME -A review

I have finished J P Delaney’s latest just now – BELIEVE ME . I went into the book with some expectation based on his debut novel THE GIRL BEFORE . But , truth to be said , this has become yet another hastily-cooked-up-second-release-after-a promising-debut book .

Plot summary : 

Claire Wright likes to play other people. For Claire every day events play out like a movie scene in which she is an actor . She is also constantly on the lookout for gestures and nuances – both in others and herself which would be “ gold dust “ for her future roles . Picking up nuances is something that Claire does as everybody breathes , yet consciously she commits these nuances to memory to use them later in the appropriate circumstances – reel or real . An undocumented British drama student , she is employed by a firm of divorce lawyers to get incriminating evidence on straying husbands whose wives are the clients of the firm . Claire ’ s narrative is juxtaposed with movie scene script snippets which is an interesting twist to the regular narratives. She throws up words like jump cuts, montage scenes, acting styles…. – in short , a hardcore passionate student of theater who got her big break not in theater but in assisting the NYPD in unmasking a  killer .

When Stella Fogler is  found murdered in her hotel suite ,  Claire comes under police radar as she was one of the two people who last saw Stella alive .  As we all know , when a married woman is found murdered , its always the husband who becomes  the de facto suspect in the investigation and Patrick Fogler is no different . Patrick is incidentally the only husband who had rebuffed her advances when Claire  has put up her easy pick-up act . When a forensic profiler comes up with what she believes substantial evidence against Patrick Folgate ,  in not one ,  but several gruesome murders , Claire is asked by the police to entice Patrick into revealing his darker side ( is there one first ?? ) .

As Claire begins to forge an intimate relationship with Patrick  and the more she gets to know him , she begins to doubt the police theory and eventually the police force itself . How could such a faithful husband (despite his wife ‘ s doubts ) be a cold – blooded killer? Is there more to this whole ” operation ” as the forensic profiler terms it than what she has been told??

Does she know the actual picture ?

Or

The real Patrick ?

Review :

There are a few elements to the plot which however made the phrases ” No…not again ” , “ seen this before ”  circle my brain while I was reading this book too often . Frankly , this mix always goes for a very predictable ending – the unreliable narrator , the limited number of suspects , the very obvious motive(s) in some cases . It’s no surprise considering that there had been very few jigsaw puzzle pieces and the narrator had to play it up several ways deliberately before putting together the pieces  of the puzzle in the right place .

To begin with, the unreliable narrator trope – it has become something of a rage  staple for almost every ” psychological ” thriller that is being published nowadays . Maybe it goes the other way round too I guess – Get an unreliable narrator for your story and you have a psychological thriller .

It would be really good if our modern day suspense writers try to get the tone of the characters right to set a strong foundation for a psychological premise of the story  instead of relying solely on  the narrator . While Claire seemed to be characterized pretty well , the author hasn’t got the tone right for Patrick .

The book packs good number of twists to keep the reader continuing but the ending became very predictable and few elements were downright stupid . A random character pops up with obsessive tendencies ( however similar it may be to the  profile of the killer ) and attempts a murder . The plot just gets too obvious that I need to get to the final pages for a dramatic ending with the killer and this is just a decoy . If you actually want the reader to fall for your red herring atleast make it sound convincing . Sans motive , sans good number of pages / appearances the red herring becomes laughable .  And red herrings are meant to make the suspense game intense – not defuse the tension .

In all , I am in the mood for a good old fashioned detective story or a regular psychological thriller where the police are in the ground looking for clues and being just in time to foil the killer ‘ s plans for another murder or to simply haul him up reinforcing our faith that justice prevails ( atleast in fiction ) .  The unreliable narrators in the books I have read this year have made me wary of them for some time in the future definitely – the mere idea of yet another makes me run away from whodunits .

Rating :3 / 5

Guys , you can definitely pick up The Girl Before  by the same author . You can read the review here

The Girl Before – A review

Epigraphs

Like all addicts signature killers work from a script , engaging in repetitive behavior to the point of obsessiveness .

Robert D. Keppel and William J. Birnes , Signature Killers

We may say that the patient does not remember anything of what he has forgotten or repressed , but acts it out . He reproduces it not as a memory but as an action ; he repeats it , without , of course , knowing that he is repeating it .

Sigmund Freud , Remembering , Repeating and Working – Through

______________________________________________

The Girl Before has been literally a (page) – tearing read . The copy had almost every alternate page stuck to the next page  and I was actually prising the pages apart and very often I ended up with torn pages . You can imagine how frustrating it is when you want to race through the pages but you are sitting and carefully prising open the pages stuck together – some way to read a suspense novel … I would not have minded if  it was any other genre.  I guess that ‘ s enough of a rant about the reading woes .

The story alternates between first person accounts from Emma – the Girl Before and Jane – the Girl Next . I picked up this book after Bring Me Back  and found that the same Then and Now style of narrative has been followed here too . There is yet another trope too that has become one of the go-to for suspense writers . Let me give a hint – Gone Girl took full advantage of this trope ( maybe I should say actually popularized this trope ) . Well , you need to pick up the book if you want to find it out – I have a strictly no spoilers policy !!

Plot summary  :

Jane gets a chance to occupy an aesthetic minimalist house . Now , One Folgate Street is a house where you have rules to be followed and any violation of the rules mean termination of the tenancy . The rules are laid out by the architect of the house – a man for whom perfectionism and minimalism are almost an obsession and  One Folgate Street is a reflection of his ideas and aspirations .  Jane discovers that her predecessor Emma  died under mysterious circumstances and starts putting together Emma’s life to  find an answer to the question – What happened with Emma ? Who is actually behind her death ?  Meanwhile we have Emma ‘ s parallel  account of her life at One Folgate Street and the readers get to know the truth behind her death . Jane ‘ s experiences  can be best described as reruns of Emma ‘s . But would Jane stumble upon the truth on time to save herself from the killer ?  Or does the same fate await her ?

JP Delaney has given a  neat psychological thriller – nothing more to say . What I loved about this book was the writing which shows that the topics have been  researched meticulously .  It was really interesting how cultural references took the narrative as well as the plot further .  The author packs a twist in every chapter and  you would be thinking about yet another angle within few chapters almost every time .  The characters , the setting of the story – basically The House and  narrative style have all been handled beautifully . Special mention about The House definitely – it is sure to pique the readers’ interest about minimalism . The reader engagement and the guess-it-who quotient is always maintained . An engaging read from first to last although I found the climax a bit too seen-it-before in other psychological thrillers . But you wouldn’t guess who until Emma finally reveals her killer. The narrators themselves have their own secrets … So , this book actually packs in a lot …

Rating : 4 .25/5

I highly recommend this book for all the suspense / thrillers buffs out there . Along the lines of The Girl in the Window this is another psychological thriller set to hit the screens soon –  You had better hurry up !!

The author ‘ s latest book has  Believe Me has got released recently . I will be reviewing it shortly . Click on the below links to check out the books at Amazon ( for Indian readers ) –

Believe Me

The Girl Before

Other readers can check out the below links  at Amazon –

The Girl Before

Believe Me

 

 

it’s always the husband – A Review

download (1)Kate,Aubrey and Jenny are inseparable at college- friends who promised they’d be there for each other.But twenty years later , their friendship is about to take a deadly turn.

Kate married the gorgeous party boy,Aubrey married up and Jenny married the boy next door,but when one of the friends dies in shocking circumstances,will everyone assume it’s always the husband?OR COULD IT BE THE BEST FRIEND?

———————————————————————————————

Michele Campbell’s debut its always the husband is quite a refreshing take on the famous suspense trope of the husband being the murderer in case of a married woman . I promise there would be no spoilers and let me dive right in —

Plot summary :

Kate – the fast one.

Jenny –the ambitious one.

Aubrey – she wants the best of both Jenny’s and Kate’s worlds despite struggling to strike the right balance. But she is determined to make the best of the exposure to the elite society and opportunities that an Ivy Leaguer is accorded. Two decades down the line, the three are married and settled down. And then one of them dies… Not surprisingly, there seem to be too many plausible motives – betrayal, passion, revenge…. The newest addition to this cocktail is even more dangerous which threatens the friends too… Which of the following motives proved to be the strongest that it resulted in murder – Or is it murder in the first place?

My reading experience :

The college years of the girlfriends has been dealt in great detail and is an engaging read.It contributes greatly to the development of the central characters-Aubrey , Kate and Jenny .While much thought has been given for the character development of the three, the other characters aren’t so well developed.When the moving finger picks out the next suspect , it seems a bit not easy to believe even if the motives attributed to them are perfectly sound.The host of secondary characters come and go only in relation with the central characters and are not very familiar to the readers .  If you are actually going to accuse somebody , first give them enough space in the story .

Given Michelle’s in-depth account of the college life in the Ivy League campus   ( given that she herself is a graduate from one ) , it would have been better if the second part of the story which is where the guessing game starts , too had enough details .  Although it was a really great narrative , it missed out the compelling factor simply because few of the angles which had been touched upon (like the murder or suicide question )  didn’t have enough weight to actually keep the readers guessing .  The victim simply hasn’t been characterized  seriously as being traumatized or showing signs of extreme stress ( or much stress whatsoever)  to actually take her own life .  The psyche of the characters could have been better explored .

Despite these shortfalls , Michele scores strongly with the ” show – only – one -side ” of the narrative which finally  starts to build the tension . The last 60 pages or so turned the regular whodunit into  one heck of the  story that leaves the reader shocked with the terrific twist at the end . Yes , the last few pages actually made all the impact that has people touting it as the next Gone Girl .

So , how would I rate the book? For me , the story has to strike the right chord with suspense element and  getting the readers actually agree with your  surmise of the moment which was clearly missing with it’s always the husband .  Perhaps , a few more pages  giving a good picture of the secondary characters and exploring the characters’ psyche in a little more depth would have made this book even more worthy of all the praise its raking right now .  I guess  ” the next Gone Girl ” is the highest form of praise right now .  The wonder is there are too many books like that 😛

Rating : 3.5 / 5 ( The sheer brilliance with the narrative style  and one jaw-dropping shocker is not going to make all the difference ) .

Picking up the book ? Would strongly recommend you to  check it  out  (if only ) for the narrative . All you had worked out in your brain wouldn’t help much because you haven’t been shown the full picture . And when you finally get to see it guaranteed it would leave you stunned .

If you had picked up the book , how did you feel about it?  Or are you planning to pick up it up now?? Drop in a word or two in the comments section  .

 

 

 

Beyond the Gossamer Veil – A Review

Mr.Holland Astonbury has acquired a singularly sinister reputation in Mr.Fox’s village.
The village rumors made every other delivery guy quake in his boots when the Post Master came looking for volunteers for an urgent delivery to Astonbury Hall.  Fox knew ( or thought he knew ) better than to take into account these tales – this assignment could turn to be the trump card he would play to move up the ranks as there was no other man willing to even step forward despite the handsome sum it promised . So,our Fantastic Mr.Fox starts for Astonbury Hall with the package – how does the assignment go?? Read a first hand account from Fox himself about his expedition – Yeah, all those tall tales had made a journey to a mansion in his own village an expedition!!

Martin had had a really bad week. First, it was his breakup with his altogether too demanding girlfriend . He was too occupied to give much thought to trivial things like breakups . But , in the coming days , the market downslide and the declining profits gave him something to worry about seriously the rest of the week . Come Friday , he was on his way for a much needed weekend getaway but it looked like his disastrous week didn’t end with the boardroom  and the bedroom (strictly Martin’s opinion about his relationship(s) ) .The latest one was his Cadillac Escapade’s run in with a Toyota Corolla . Now watch out  his weekend getaway plans take a turn for something else.

Beyond The Gossamer Veil –  Eldritch Tales of the Supernatural by Todd William is the book you need to pick up if  I have managed to pique your interest with the above snippets from his collection of stories . The stories were gripping from the first page with me wanting to finish atleast the story which I had started in one sitting (even if I could not sit through the entire book in one day) . All credits to his superb story telling – he knows how to shock people with the violence or scare them when he takes the readers to eerie places or if he wants you to see the nature’s beauty in his settings, you can get to see some breath-taking beauty of the landscape. It just depends on Todd’s plot to take you to  interesting places and watch the drama unfold albeit a bit slowly . Sometimes , I found it difficult to pace my reading to savor his language without plodding through a gripping start.

Every setting for his story is different and his character sketches were  really good . A suspense / thriller fan subconsciously picks up the deerstalker hat to play the what’s -gonna – happen – next guessing game I guess when he or she comes across stories that offer such scope . I actually guessed the direction the story was proceeding for a few correctly – 3 out of 7 to be precise . A few seemed to wander into  familiar turfs but Todd managed to spring a surprise at the end . Humor , pathos , a crime shrouded in something more than regular mystery – Todd’s package offers a rich variety and he manages to engage the reader early on in his stories  –  I envy Todd’s rich vocabulary . But as with his narrative style which sets the pacing slow , a few words just seemed to be used just for the sake of getting a different word . For non-native speakers , just a quick question – How many of you know the meaning of the word macadam?

Yeah, the reading experience itself was very interesting one for this book –  I was of  two minds  whether I should race through the stories without pacing my reading to actually soak in the beauty of the language and the vivid imagery it evoked or to turn the pages slowly because Todd gets you hooked in the first few pages and thereafter there seems to be no option but to sit through the entire story . The tales are quite tall and that’s what made it difficult to finish a story sometimes in one sitting once I got started with one .

So , having written about my reading experience and a quick review of the book , I can assure you that Beyond The Gossamer Veil turned out to be a rewarding read in several aspects . Pick it up if you want to get an idea about how to tell a story . Sometimes , the sheer mastery over the art of storytelling it what it all matters!!!

Rating – 3.75 / 5

For people who picked up the book , I would love to hear about your reading experience and thoughts about the book .

 

A few interesting picks of all the “made-up” words – Part 1

The word QUIZ was coined  by Richard Daley to win a bet .The story goes that he got some kids to write the new word he had made up on the streets of Dublin in the night . The next day , the people of the town were talking about the word that was scribbled all over the town on several walls . When Daley was questioned as to the meaning of the word he had  replied ” a puzzle ” . Today , making up new words has become a little easier  – a writer just makes up a  new word when he thinks he needs one and some are made up by the netizens  to up their social  media swag -quotient . A good number of words owe their popularity to social media . A few interesting picks from a whole bunch of words that can make up a ” A Dictionary Of Made-up Words ”

I have discovered that a few of my friends have become are actually textroverts. You can actually get them to “talk” only in WhatsApp groups or messaging .They should be the ones who should put  the”Can’t talk WhatsApp only” WhatsApp status .When they WhatsApp/message , you cannot imagine them saying the same things at a lunch table or anywhere when you hang out with friends.
There are a few Cynophiles whose canine love is evident from the number of pics we get to see of their dogs -a few pics look like they are right out of a exclusive photoshoot. Almost every selfie of these cynophiles have their canine friend.When they can sit for photoshoots it’s no wonder they caught up with the selfie fad also.A few of these people do not stop with posting pics of their adorable canine friend but try to help others like their canine friend to find another person like them.THAT is really something which I admire them for.
When there is a word for the dog lovers cat lovers too need one right ? Now , they are Ailurophiles. Not seeing any cat pics in my newsfeed. So,I think I don’t have any ailurophiles among my friends. But I know a lady whose blog-posts about her feline pets almost convinced me that being in the other camp would be easier.If her experiences with cats are things everybody who has/had one can relate to,then I can understand why getting cats to sit for photoshoots or posing for selfies is not easy for you guys.If any ailurophile is reading this,no offence please.You could probably share some pics of you and your feline friend bonding or maybe something adorable your cat does.Or you could easily write about your adorable feline friend and how I have got it completely wrong.

         Petrichorthe pleasant,earthy smell after rain

That’s not often I got to experience everytime it rains in the city.But I remember experiencing it vividly in a small town.Running into the garden to see the plants with the droplets covering every leaf/flower and playing under the trees just to experience something of a shower when somebody shakes one of the branches with the petrichor lingering quite strongly is the memory I have of the rainy days spent.But,that still is one of the best memories I have of my grandparents’ house.

            Vellichorthe strange wistfulness of used bookshops.

If you think I would have experienced it the answer would be a dampener.Despite frequenting some used bookshops for bulk purchases for my bookshelf, the used bookshops don’t have the aura of a place radiating old world charm.Rather,I need to be present in the moment to actually pick some good books before somebody else does.After getting a decent pick,its time to negotiate with the owner of the bookshop about the prices.The other day I picked up all the Chetan Bhagat books except Five Point SomeOne and a few others before going to the nearest used bookshop.I saw atleast 3 copies of One Indian Girl and atleast 1 copy of every book of his.I was just happy to put them there and I couldn’t say the same for the bookshop guy when he got a look at those titles.

             Sonderthe realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as               your own.
The description itself had a deep meaning.So,when I actually googled the usage, I came to know about John Koenig’s ongoing project The Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows.I couldn’t agree about the word Sorrows in the title because these are fleeting emotions.We can feel a few of the emotions he has given a word for,but we might not feel them for a noticeable time.It is just like a realization/perception that dawns upon one at a moment or gaining a a deeper insight about life or actually feeling a tinge of regret.The next moment we shake it off and are all set to get going on with the practical life.These words,in John Koenig’s own words “feelings of existentialism“and are meant to “fill a hole in the language“.

Need to share my most favorite memory from my family ‘s road trips here.

During one  road trip , we had several butterflies coming and hitting against the windshield of our car. First there came 2 or 3 and before we could even realize,we found that our car was raking up butterflies .We had not seen a butterfly up close before and such a sight got me and my siblings all excited . Only our parents wanted to make a quick stop somewhere .We would have loved to travel all the way with the butterflies on the windshield . So,we made a stop at the nearest petrol bunk . Only when we saw butterflies with broken wings and few others dying or dead we actually felt sorry that we couldn’t make an earlier stop . A few were able to revive slowly . The memory that stayed with me about the trip was the sight of a whole swarm of butterflies in a variety of hues and patterns on the windshield of the car . Whenever we passed that particular stretch sometimes I remember looking out of the car window expectantly for a butterfly or two (not on the windshield definitely) but no such luck .
Quite recently , we decided to take a road trip after a long time to Kodaikanal. Standing in the midst of all the beauty of nature, I still couldn’t figure how suddenly the memory about those butterflies came about and the thought that came with it was the one that hit me hard – like those butterflies this too will become a memory one day . I was not exactly interested in rushing through ‘places of interest’ but I wanted to actually be amongst the nature and not look at it through the window of a car .So, we actually made several stops at any point that caught our interest and not only at the viewpoints listed in a tourist guide.Heck, we stopped to click pics of anything that we wanted to have a memento of . If we could actually bring some mementos home,we did that too-pine cones , fallen branches of pine trees , leaves with intriguing patterns and even some lichen from the bark of a fallen tree . I wanted to walk along the trails and the hairpin bends – me and my sister managed to actually take walks  despite  our short stay thoroughly enjoying every minute of it   and soaking in the beauty of the towering trees and the flowers in the shrubs  that stretched before us . A  Walk I Remember…

I couldn’t explain that feeling of  realizing that this trip too will become a memory then . So, for a change , I decided to actually take in the surroundings instead of just capturing them on photographs . I was aware that once we start clicking pics we focus on getting the perfect shot and forget about living the moment . Today, I found a word  from Koenig’s dictionary that describes that feeling perfectly

              Dés vu-the awareness that this (moment) will become a memory

How many times have we told ourselves that ” This too shall pass ” when we are going through tough times just to keep ourselves motivated? But have we ever thought about everyday moments in the same way? They might be part of  our daily routine or even if it is for a span of few months,those little moments are just what they are-little moments only.We realize that they were big things only when they become memories.Live the moment has yet another in-fad phrase which we use without an idea of the depth of meaning it conveys.Only when we fully understand ” living the moment” , I think we will appreciate the moments however insignificant it might seem in today’s hectic lifestyle .  Take a look at Koenig’s eloquence of language when he describes the feeling perfectly when he says

You were born on a moving train.
And even though it feels like you’re standing still,
time is sweeping past you ,right where you sit.
But once in a while when you look up,
and actually feel the inertia,
and watch as the present turns into a memory
-as if some future you is already looking back on it.

This quoted lines are just an excerpt . Click here for the  video on YouTube .  Do check out Koenig’s  project for his vivid descriptions of the ” obscure ” emotions . They wouldn’t seem  obscure after listening to Koenig ‘s vivid descriptions and equally moving visuals and background score . The attention that has been given every little detail in the videos  is commendable .

That’s it for this post . There ‘ s more to talk about this . Yeah, I am still not finished . Until I hit the publish button for the next post then .

Types of Quorans

I signed up for Quora in July 2016. I would have made a reference to it in one of the posts. The Quora that I signed up for was a knowledge-sharing platform. During the early days, it was a social media platform with a difference – you read even if your book reading took a backseat with all the deadlines and most importantly, read about things that matter. The title speaks for itself. So let’s get started…

       Storytellers:

These are the guys who have a story for every question they answer. As we know people tell stories in their way and so the storyteller tag itself is a generalization.

           Just for Laughs Only storytellers:

               Warning: Read at your own risk in office as these answers will crack you up and you would definitely get some weird looks if it happens too often. Or if you are the kind of person who can always manage a placid smile , then you can go ahead.

These guys are probably cousins to the Facebook meme creators. They ace the art of telling stories in a rib-tickling way and rival the stand-up comedians with their narrative spiced with puns and definitely their own unique style of writing. Any question they choose to answer should have a story and most importantly should be told so that the readers have a good laugh. When the answer nails these two factors, it automatically rakes the upvotes. For those who are for Laughter is the best medicine, when you cannot go for Facebook or Twitter, you can go for Quora also now.

       Enlightened storytellers:

These guys are the ones who have graduated from the first category. They have finally realized that you don’t have to make the reader smile or LOL with every story and that there are other stories also to be told for some answers-inspiring personal stories, personal stories that sometimes reveal about the person with the “popular Quoran” tag whom several try to emulate (definitely) and most importantly about inspiring people whom many of us have very little idea or no idea about .Whatever story they tell they make the reader sit through it to the very end. When the reader finishes reading the answer, it leaves the reader with questions/new insights or pondering about the opinions put forth. Whatever their answers do, the readers have a takeaway from each answer. The stories cannot be simply categorized-they know which story should be told for any question.

Some of them have been very honest about their journey from being a JFL storyteller just to establish a good follower base to telling stories that need to be told today. The answers that are introspective about the journey and setting new goals by some of the really honest guys are as good as motivational blogs and TED talks. These people show how to do things when they write those answers.

      Masked storytellers

          Not all heard stories are easy to digest for the readers. We can only imagine about other stories which we have not heard.

I have seen several anonymous answers raking upvotes and helpful comments by the awesome Quora community (not meaning to sound insensitive) than the stories which identifies the writer.

Their stories drill the hard fact that all good things in life will not be handed to you in a platter sometimes. You have to beat the odds to reach where you want to. A few answers are people who are still struggling but very optimistic that they will make it.Some answers would make you wish you knew that person and heard the story from their own mouth. These guys are the ones who have bounced forward. The society, their family circumstances, their failures-nothing shakes/shook them. They take/have taken things in their stride.

Another set of answers are written by people who want to unburden themselves about some harrowing experiences in life which they wouldn’t confide even to those closest to them for the fear of being judged/sparing their loved ones the pain which they suffer constantly. The Quora community reaches out to these people which encouraging words and I have seen several of these storytellers coming up with Edits about how those words have been consoling and they are looking forward to moving on.Some have gone to write about bouncing back in the Edits.

The Mentor

These writers were probably Adam D’ Angelo’s target audience when he together with Charlie Cheever came up with the idea of Quora.

They painstakingly write quite lengthy but super-informative answers on how-to-learn or choosing-between-X-or-Y or about complex concepts and several others questions beginners have in a particular field. Some of them actually substantiate their answers with stats and a bonus of list of reference links for more info/tools for learning/links for courses. A single answer can provide a wealth of information and give a head-start for the reader’s learning journey. Several of them give the tips & tricks they followed during their learning phase too.

I specially love those writers who narrate the story of their learning journey with all the mistakes they made (which the reader had also made/might be making) and most importantly, how they got back on track which serves for reassuring the beginners that perseverance pays off when some beginners feel anxious about getting stuck in learning-plateaus (I was one of those beginners…So special mention about these answers).

The Prime Time Debate Panelist:

As the country which drives the highest traffic to Quora, this is an exclusively Indian thing. The Quorans who write about India’s current political scenario are divided into two camps. No wonders there-there are no-so-healthy discussions in the comments sections or tongue-in-cheek answers about why the other camp has got it wrong completely. It becomes really ugly only when people specially from the camp that is critical about the Government write anonymously and begin their answer with the explanation-I am one step from getting banned. Some of the “not-so popular” but definitely bold writers from the camp have got banned. So, the seasoned political critic has to resort to this safety measure so that another dissenting voice is not banned from putting forth his/her opinions.

I believe that people of a free democratic state have the freedom of speech. It becomes a joke when we can make Trump jokes and Brexit jokes but cannot see what has happened at the home front. The current Government is honest enough to set the example for their Digital India campaign when every minister in the Cabinet is active on the social media like Facebook and Twitter. But, Quora is a different social media platform-questions will be asked and dissenting comments with solid facts for which the Minister has to come up with an convincing reply much like their “epic tweets”. Quora does not need their presence-their faithful followers in Twitter and Facebook are doing their job. So, why worry? With all honesty, one camp has an unfair advantage over the other like in most of the prime time debates on Indian news channels.

With several non-Indians hinting about their feeds monopolized by questions about The Great Indian Socio-Political and Economic scenario (one guy was frank enough to suggest that India should have its own Quora) where we would probably be able to thrash another writer’s opinions from the opposite camp without any fear about moderation from Quora. Well, rules can be relaxed as user experience matters and most importantly user engagement.

The Avid reader

The one who reads and reads but doesn’t write much and upvotes good answers. Quora freshers are in awe of the “popular Quorans” and even a comment from one of them, for one answer makes them ecstatic. You need to see some of their replies!! The fandom reaction for anything a “popular Quoran” does is becoming somewhat of fandom reaction for celebs.These are the most underrated guys very understandably but these guys also drive a good amount of traffic to the site and most importantly, make the writers write often and better.

Today the platform for “gaining and sharing knowledge” is just another social media platform. Quora follower-base is just like Facebook’s Friends list and Twitter followers. The stats say that India drives the largest traffic to Quora (33.3%) compared with 26.5% from US. But we don’t need the stats-we see it everyday. Now, Quora has become another in-fad platform that Indians have to try out. Quora has become a platform where every wannabe writer practices writing and there are too many of those answers that are written only for raking upvotes and every other reason except sharing knowledge and even for really interesting questions the answer is in the Indian context . My Quora feed has no variety and is flooded with answers on select number of topics when there are a wide range of topics. Click here for the full list of topics on Quora. The Quora follower-base has given them bragging rights because ” Brainy is the new sexy”. I think it’s the beginning of Quora becoming another Facebook/Twitter because this is what we Quorans get to see everytime nowadays

 

  • You upvoted this answer on this topic and so we bring you more answers on this topic.
  • You have answered questions under this topic and so read other answers on this topic
  • You can “discover new topics” with a list of related topics with the names of the “popular Quorans” you are following who are following those topics
  • Notifications like XYZ upvoted this answer after seeing your upvote

To gain an edge over its competitor Q & A sites Adam D’Angelo made sure Quora had the crowd-pulling features of both Facebook and Twitter. The Quora blogs feature is just taking things too far-Its like Lenka singing

All I wanna be
Is everything

Everything at once

By now, you can guess which category I fall into. I was also into honing my writing skills when I signed up for Quora but eventually I was not interested to enter into a rat-race that people where making Quora writing to be. I am still mostly answering A2As about book recommendations and anything on literature and some interesting questions in random topics.If you are wondering if I am still reading Quora-Yes, I read but mostly answers by the last two Quoran writers and sometimes stories by the last two kinds of storytellers.

 

A Writer’s gotta write first…

There is one Indian author whom I have been following very closely for anything except his writing. The man is not confined to writing bestsellers alone- he is a reputed columnist who writes very insightful articles on any niche,a screenplay writer for some of the highest box-office-grossing movies in Bollywood ( Hollywood,you have missed out a great talent…) whom The New York Times identified as ” the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history” in 2008. Perhaps,that might be true – but are his works really noteworthy? If you are not familiar with Indian writing,I ‘ll tell it straight-Chetan Bhagat.

           First Point Someone was really good for a debut novel-the narrative style, the rib-tickling  wry humor (courtesy Ryan) were instant hit with  the audience ( particularly the youth) and Chetan Bhagat  became a voice of the youth and most importantly, for the youth .Most importantly,it portrayed the failings in the Indian Education System that was prevalent even in the premier institutes of the nation like IIT. Being an alumnus of one such institutions,the narrative voiced the disappointment which he probably felt during his Under Grad years and he did it in a very entertaining way with his prime characters-Alok Gupta and Hari Kumar when Hari says “ So, we’re not just five-point somethings anymore, we are five point somebodies. ” when they manage to get a job finally.

So,when 2 States came out,this time Chetan Bhagat’s strategy became very apparent. I should say that he is a man who  should know very well that ” Successful people do not necessarily do extraordinary things-they do ordinary things  in an extraordinary way”. When you tell a regular campus love story with all drama in Bollywood style with all the drama thrown in  with a happily-ever-after ending, the masala factor became the crowd puller rather than the writing. Yeah, it was a fun read again only for his tongue-in-cheek narrative and humor. But, I had learnt to not expect much and had designated Chetan’s books for a light read during 6 hour train journeys.

When a picked up my last Chetan Bhagat novel, I remember thinking about The Three Mistakes Of my Life after finishing it

  • Picking up a Chetan Bhagat book again
  • Sitting through a plot-line that does not resonate with the political climate ( set in Gujarat during the earthquake and later communal riots in 2002 ). If at all anything,I was mentally making note of n number things that went wrong that were too jarring.Let’s say I became a better reader and ever better at picking up books
  • Still giving a place for Chetan Bhagat’s books in my bookshelf- Five Point Someone can stay.The others are going to the second hand book-dealer very soon.

He became a pioneer of a new kind of storytelling. Several other motivated Indian youth joined the bandwagon of this breed of storytellers who believed that stories need everything else-the masala factor, very creative and intriguing names like this one( Of course I love you..!Till I Find SomeOne Better, Now That You’re Rich Lets Fall in Love– this guy can give starters tips on how he comes up with such titles that gets the reader hooked even before he/she take a read at the plot summary) , a narrative that borders more on the type of fantasy genre with the most improbable locations and situations) .

When finally One Indian Girl came out,Chetan Bhagat marketed it aggressively on social media.But,when the book became epic disaster( finally, the average Indian had learnt to choose better as Chetan Bhagat was touted to be the one who made them read English books…Duh!! ). Have a look as the Indian twitterati trolled him and its too spot on and hilarious to miss out. Click on this link- Just for laughs

When people become staunch advocates for these writers saying that they made the average Indian to pick up English books,I have only one thing to say to them-

Indians’ contribution to the English literature did not start with Chetan Bhagat or the others. It started way back during the independence struggle only with Rabindranath Tagore, R.K.Narayan. For a better idea, have a look at this Wikipedia article. I am planning to check out one or two myself.

I should say that Chetan Bhagat was working all the while for making his entry into Bollywood as a screenplay writer. I can say whole-heartedly that he fits the bill for a screenplay writer better.If his books were dishing out only What Young India Wants ,the movie adaptations of each of his books tapped into that talent more. And his works do not count as any contribution to English literature.These books can be seen as some recent contributions to the English literature

A Train To Pakistan-Khushwant Singh(I know this is not a recent one but I loved this book )

 The God Of Small Things-Arundhathi Roy

The White Tiger-Arvind Adiga

Ibis trilogy-Amitav Ghosh

The Inheritance of Loss-Kiran Desai

Midnight’s Children-Salman Rushdie(still in my TBR list)

So,that brings up another question -if the book is not in English, does it’s literary value diminish? Will that book not gain widespread recognition that generally comes with English? The answer is a straight NO. Have a look at the list below –

The Millennium trilogy(Swedish) – Stieg Larsson

The Alchemist (and every other title by the same author in Portuguese) – Paulo Coelho

The Dinner (Dutch) – Herman Koch.

For more  click here.The more I google,the more number of whole new lists keep coming up.

When it comes to India, there are several languages and only very few epic works have got the privilege of reaching a wider audience (especially the regional works capturing the society and the political scenario in the background during the independence movements) . Sometimes, translation would prove to be a lesser substitute as the dialect of the regional language which gives the distinct style cannot be captured in a foreign language. For Indian readers check out this link  for some must-read translations.

When I was reading Michael’s post, the words “A scorpion’s gotta sting, a writer’s gotta write.” brought Chetan Bhagat instantly to my mind and this post.Thanks Michael for giving me a title for the post. If I might add, write  something worthwhile first . Probably he should have a paper with these words pasted just above his writing desk. He might be an alumnus of IIM-A but now you are a writer, you should know better that all the marketing gimmicks would not help if your story relies heavily on everything else except a good plot-line. He had done it previously and gotten away with it but this time, his marketing backfired in an epic way.

Lastly, to quote the man himself –“ I think half the trees in the world are felled to make up the IIT entrance exam guides. Most of them are crap ” Just substitute IIT entrance exam guides for Chetan’s books. Just can’t resist taking a parting shot 🙂