Sunday, October 28, 2012

Insects are Just Like You and me Except Some of Them have Wings - Kuzhali Manickavel

The book was recommended to me by the publisher himself.  He said, if you like some weird , non-conforming kind of writing, you will like this book. This was about a month ago, at the COMICON event at Koramangala. I did buy the 'Stupid guy' book as well. Like most of the readers, I too, got carried away with the unusual title and few diagrams that appeared through out the books with illustrations of various insects ( which I found out later, has no connection whatsoever with the stories) , in which one says "A Literary Appreciation of T.S.Eliot's The Waste Land sen as a diagram of a mutant fruit fly".

The book indeed is a bit whacky in its style and stories. They appear to you in short spurts. One paragraph at a time. Stop. Start again. Some of them are only a paragraph or half a page long. Few of them are longer. Hence many do not have a standard complete story format. It is difficult to get used to this style for a while, and once you are through with that, then the reading become easy. The voice, remain same almost through out, of a semi urban-urban low middle class modern youth. The images again are restricted to these neighborhoods of semi urban, middle class. The prevailing angst, the frustration and the need to establish themselves crops up in many a stories.

Whenever she attempt to writer a longer version of the stories, I find it has a better effect. The stories are more complete and round, the characters are formed appropriately and there is a sort of continuity and conclusion. "Suicide letter is the most common form of the letter", "The dynamics of Windows", and "The Dolphin king" are , for the same reason, are more complete and are much better.  The language is consistent, her observations are trivial at times but are spontaneous and fresh.  The constant detached behaviour of her characters, we see some one who is sort of connected to the roots. While trying to be independent and self, there is a longing for love and admiration, of wanting to get to the family ( may be a generation above like in the case of Suicide letter..) and connect to the life despite the death of the individual ( the shoe box that keep appearing despite the death of the owner, Kathis carrying the embryo of his twin-brother in a bottle, the husband who re-appear to his wife in her dream asking for his watch in Paarvai ) , apart from numerous animals and insects ( the Rat names miraculous, the dragon fly, the butterflies in the entomologist in line with the title of the book.

IVery interesting set of short stories. The conversations are abrupt and non-polished. The characters are all middle aged, just out of house/family young individuals trying to find their own meaning/foot hold of life. The stories as said earlier, comes in short spurts, a paragraph at a stretch, breaking, opening at another in a flash. In the conventional sense, these do not conform to the standards. Despite many short comings, they have a freshness in them. A very different voice in the Indian English Writing.

Insects are Just Like You and me Except Some of Them have Wings ( 2008 )

Kuzhali Manickavel

Blaft Publications

141 Pages
The Short Review, Tehelka


Julie Daines said...

This sounds like a really interesting book.

For the first time in my life, out of curiosity, I clicked the little icon at the top of my blog page that says "next blog." Surprise! Your blog is where I ended up. Hi. Nice to meet you.

Jayan Parameswaran said...

Thanks Julie, and nice to meet you too.

All the very best with your release of book.