Thursday, 28 January 2016

Book Review: Breath, Go Away and Other Stories by Sriman Narayanan

 I'm back with yet another book review. And this is a little special, because this marks a lot of new beginnings. This is the first book of short, sweet stories that I'm reviewing. It's also the first book by blogger turned author Sriman Narayanan. "Breath, Go Away and Other Short Stories", is a dramatically short book, but it's a pretty heavy book. It is a collection of stories that is heavy with honesty, humour, happiness and heartbreak.
  Despite the short read and bite-sized format, the stories demand individual attention. Despite the length, The book manages to have a lot of substance. I found it impossible to take it all in, in one sitting.
 The Last story, 'Heights of Height' is an honest portrayal of the struggles a short Indian guy faces on his quest to find a spouse on the monstrous matrimonial site shaadi.com. (And you thought Tinder was bad.) This is the longest story in the book, and perhaps the one that held my intrigue the most. 'Heights of Height' highlights how shallow our standards of Love have become. The protagonist, Kris starts out on his quest to find a beautiful bride, particularly, a fair maiden with a slim body, and a tale of cautious internet love unfolds, only to become a cautionary tale of the misguided standards of Indian love that have irrevocably turned a matter of hearts, into a matter of business, and physical beauty standards. We have also witnessed so many stories of men and women with dusky skin get rejected, it was almost refreshing to have this story point out just how hurtful it can be to get judged by any impossible physical standards of beauty. (Take that skin lightening cream commercials. Your products have officially ruined love for this nation.)
  'Kisses to God' is perhaps the only tale with the unforeseen happy ending, which oddly enough, is the point of the story, that sometimes Love finds you when you least expect it, and that you just have to seize it at the moment.
  The title story 'Breath, Go Away' features a beautiful poem that the author admits was written by the pens of pain, on sheets of resentment, fuelled with the ink of anger and heartbreak. The story is an unexpected hurricane of a romance that ensues and leaves behind a devastating calm much like the aftermath of a destructive storm. What is most admirable in this is that the reader really gets to witness all the stages of this tragic story of love and heartbreak. The resent in the poem is made up for by the maturity in the author's understanding words that follow. He acknowledges that perhaps she had her reasons to leave, a story of her own, or perhaps it was just destiny at play. He blames no one and holds no bitterness. And that is a powerful takeaway from the title story.

This book really brings out the feels.
In yet another story, titled, 'Anger and bitterness', Sriman Narayanan, splendidly examines the difference between the very bitterness he doesn't hold in 'Breath Go Away', and righteousness in anger by taking us to our roots, and explaining a slight nuance in the Vedanta that we may have overlooked. Why did Krishna choose to park Arjuna's Chariot in front of his guru Dronacharya and Bheeshma while explaining to him the Bhagavad Gita? But that's not the only spiritual lesson in the book. 'The Tree and it's Secret' offers a well rooted reminder to persevere and grow. 'The Greatest Conspiracy, with Qualifiers' takes the reader in for a quick dip into philosophy that is both enriching and enduring.
'Momentous emotions' is a story of unexpressed love with a philosophical angle that argues for consent. It's a story that supposes that if only hindu weddings included the ritualistic "speak now or forever hold your peace" question of consent, it may just deter hindu parents into forcing their children into a marriage.
Technically, a marriage is saved. So pour the CHAMPAGNE
'Tears in the bathroom' is a sincere ode to the bravery of women. What absolutely works and draws you in to this story, hook, line and sinker is that, the tears are considered a sign of greatness, strength, nobility and endurance and not weakness. This story achieves what Madhuri Dixit and the Vogue empower campaign have been going on about.
No beta, Tears are a sign of strength. and Women are Strong.
 'Priceless Conversations' is an adorably cheesy story that teases out and celebrates not only the innocence, but also the intelligence in children.
Yeah, I probably added the cheesy bit just so I can add this picture.
 ' A Shiver of Joy', 'That Something', 'Bride Wanted', and 'My Hot Date' are the mischievously humorous stories. There is more than just humour though, There is always a little bit of extra surprise and a hilarious plot twist that has everyone literally do what can only be explained by the following GIF in this book.
Thank god for GIFS
  The added highlight is that the book is peppered with the original cute Tamil/Telugu slang that the stories took place in and mentions of Maddy, Resident south Indian Chocolate boy actor Madhavan in 'That Something', besides the best possible romance story in the entire book,' My Hot Date', the spellbinding and incredibly well written tribute to the madras filter kaapi.
Filter coffee is true Love

Priced at ₹195( available for ₹175 on flipkart and amazon), Breath, Go Away and Other stories is an incredibly touching collection of Short stories to be savoured on slow Sunday mornings, best accompanied by a nice tumbler of hot hot south Indian filter coffee, a tang of nostalgia and love.

Have you read Breath Go Away and Other Stories? What did you think of the book? Are you a coffee person? Leave me your own thoughts and reviews in the comments below.

Like this post? Share it!