Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tall man small shadow reviews Maria Perry Mohan, Milandeep, Bytes and Banters,Shilpi Dutta

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Tall Man Small Shadow by Vipin Behari Goyal

By Bytesandbanter

Tall Man Small Shadow by Vipin Behari Goyal Tall Man Small Shadow starts of very smoothly showing a happy family where the young girl is just about the best possible fir for the handsome guy next door. The chapters are short and crisp. The slow narration is filled with rich imagery which really brings out the cheerfulness in any human being. The introduction to the characters is quite delightful and their emotions and feelings are well portrayed. The author also analyses simple situations through multiple points of view which results in the reader getting a wholesome picture of the effect of any situation on the society.
Tall Man Small Shadow by Vipin Behari Goyal
Gratitude is a way of reducing the importance
of what somebody has done for you

The book is beautifully narrated and touches on many aspects of life. Many traditional beliefs and practices are contested in the novel like homosexual desires and suicides, which are sadly shunned by the society. The author has used these situations quite effectively and sends a positive message to enlighten the reader and develop a mindset to counter these beliefs.
The book picks up tremendous pace at the end and it seems as if the author was in a hurry to just finish it off. There are just too many events to digest in the last few chapters and the placement is quite haphazard. It almost seems that the author has forcefully brought it to a halt to suit the fairy-tale "Happy Ending". However, the last chapter which gives quite a contrasting picture of the wife, Sulekha is eye-opening as it shows how a scheming mind could bring together families (we have seen it breaking families on many saas-bahu serials) and make them all seem like a coincidence. The twist is quite ingenious and should be one of the major selling points of the book.
The plot, though somewhat unrealistic in today's lives, greatly articulates the need for a modernistic approach at dealing with situations as Anupam and Sulekha do. The foreword practically summarizes the entire story and is like a spoiler which lets the reader know what is going to happen. Some of the dialogues are extremely silly and stupid (especially the part where Salil asks Aalya for her shadow which she ponders about like a dumb dodo). There are numerous editing mistakes and grammatical errors, a book which is so descriptive should have been proofread better to prevent such petty mistakes.
Though this 152-paged novel can be read in a single sitting, it should be done so in multiple sittings to truly enjoy and cherish the complexities of life explained through philosophy.
Soumabha Roy Chaudhuri

Bytes and Banter Verdict :  A Good Read  -  3/5

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Book Review: Tall Man Small Shadow by Vipin Behari Goyal

Tall Man Small Shadow is the debut novel by Vipin Behari Goyal who is an avid reader, an award winning documentary movie maker and a Fiancial Advisor in the Government of Rajasthan by profession. The author tries to explore several existential dilemmas by telling the life story of some complex and inter related characters. He try to make the reader think deeply on the topics of coincidences, human behaviour, kindness and relationships.

Tall man small Shadow is the story of Alya who is doing her research in Literature and of Salil, an IT employee with a past and in love with a shadow. It is also the story of Anupam, Alya's father , who is a loner and sometimes takes up the mantle of the narrater and her mother, Sulekha who is mostly silent and ill most of the times, but reveals to be a lot more than what meets the eye by climax. There is another couple who is integral to the story- Seema, a childless woman who happens to be the research guide of Alya and her husband Paul, a theater personality. Alya and Salil meet up early in the story and an affair develops naturally. Anupam notices it. Parallely she develops a physical relation with Seema, her guide. Sensing the sorrow of Seema, Alya decides to help her and enlist the help of Salil.
I have read a few European existential novels, that of Kafka, Kundera, Camus, Snow by Orhan Pamuk and have got inspired by them in various degrees. In this novel, I could feel a strong influence of Kundera's Laughable Loves, especially in the narration style. In that book protagonists who are very normal people, gets into situations where they are forced to realize unknown facts about life. Writer tries to attempt something similar here with not so good results. I know, pitting a self published debut book against that of a literary giant like Kundera is not fair. So I will try to evaluate its individual merits.
The book is quite simple to read. It is short and all the chapters are just couple of pages long. All the philosophical parts are quite well written. These comes in the parts narrated by Anupam. The problem lies in connecting these nuggets with the story. It is not at all convincing and the twist in the climax negate the whole build up. The story is narrated from the view points of different protagonists. The parts of Anupam is told in first person while others' view points are in third person. I never felt any dire need for such a technique, but it is ok or me as it gave some novelty to the otherwise grim story. The problem is that writer seriously confuses his first person and third person segments a couple of times. Just some good editing could eliminate these issues as well as some typos occuring in regular intervals.
The characters of the book are interesting, but the plot let them down seriously. The situations never get serious and even serious points get trivialised and fails to create an impact like that of sperm donation or lesbianism. Finally I would say this novel has very less to offer for a well informed reader.

Review by Milandeep

Vipin Bihari Goyal’s first book of fiction ‘Tall Man Small Shadow’ has lucidly tried to explain the various shades and shadows of human life. It is a love story as well as a philosophical book with multiple narratives. The multiple narrative style works most of the time but sometimes gets confusing when they the POV shifts continuously in the same chapter. The best part of the book is its characters. All of them might not be likable, but they still brim with life and spill over the pages.

Tall Man Small Shadow

It is my debut English novel based on existentialism. Salil loves a shadow which transforms into many characters to reveal the secrets of life. Aalya, his neighbor, is doing research in English literature. Her guide Seema is a childless lesbian. Paul, husband of Seema, is a drama director. I am the protagonist, who coins philosophies for day to day events and my wife Sulekha is the second protagonist who makes coincidences happen with her artful manipulations. Read on to learn what happens when…

The story is about Anupam, an old man who makes money by playing the stock market, his daughter, Aalya, an English literature student, and Salil, a software engineer who wants to start his own company. They live in the same neighbourhood. Salil is not very outgoing and had an unsuccessful love affair with Muslim girl and had tried to commit suicide. When he meets Aalya, he falls in love with her shadow. Anupam likes to sit in a park, under a tree and thinks about the various phases of life with a marked detachment. I think these are the best chapters of the book. It makes you look at life in different a perspective.

There are some parts of the book which looked unnecessary. The author gets a bit carried away when he is describing the relationship of Aalya and her mentor. The story of Salil’s ex-girlfriend, Nasrin, after marriage, also looked out of place. There are some grammatical errors in the book that could have been rectified with proper editing. Even the editor’s foreword, at the beginning of the book, reveals too much of the plot. Anupam’s wife, Sulekha’s confession of how she achieved what she wanted, was pleasantly surprising. However, the last chapter of the book looks like it a Bollywood ending.

If I take an overall view, though, I’d say the story is interesting with some unusual circumstances in the life of its main characters. It made me dwell on all my beliefs and moral values.

 Tall Man Small Shadow (Paperback) review by Maria Perry Mohan 

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A Thoughtful Piece of Fiction
A thoughtful piece of fiction. The story revolves around the main character who is the husband and father of a small, modern Indian nuclear family. I don't dare give his name as it isn't revealed until the end of the story. He ponders life, death and everything in between, including the relevance of tradition and the facets of truth. He loves and cares for his ailing wife Sulekha while seeing to his fatherly duty in arranging his daughter's marriage with the proverbial suitable boy. The daughter, Aalya, while working on her doctoral thesis and finding herself attracted to a boy who has come to live in her neighbourhood, is awakened sexually not by the boy but by her professor, an unfulfilled wife. The author's voice is tolerant and neither negative nor condemning. At the same time, after the reader has been lured up the garden path on a leisurely journey, the wheel turn in a full circle and things work out exactly as they should. So the end provides the necessary closure. Written in the Indian style of English, one forgives the little so called errors which are really just typical of Indian English and a little tense jumping here and there, not to mention the fact that sometimes the third person lapses into the first person. The story made sense and the author's voice came through. As a reader, I really don't require any more than that.


Shilpi Dutta:

My review on the fiction “Tall man small shadow” is my candid opinion and not my judgement about the book since I am nobody to call anything good or bad-

Tall man samll shadow
Book- Tall man small shadow
Author- Vipin Behari Goyal
Story- Protagonist Salil, a lonely software professional stays in a rented apartment in a society of some city(Oops there is no backdrop of the city unless you assume that to be Delhi as the story progresses). Salil, a man of few words, notices Aalya, the beautiful daughter of his neighbor Anupam uncle and Sulekha aunty who are leading a happy retired life. A PhD aspirant in English Literature, Alya looks after her parents and is the apple of their eyes.  With no love interest or messed up affair, a lonely Aalya apparently falls in love with her thesis guide Seema. At 40, Seema, without any child, still looks gorgeous but is devoid of love from her busy husband Paul who is a theater director. In the most unimaginable situation, Seema and Aalya develop a physical relationship, partially to fill up the void spaces of their lives, and partially because they liked each other. At the same time Aalya is attracted towards Salil but never gathers courage to admit her admiration for the handsome boy. Salil is too introvert to speak his heart out while he falls for Aalya’s shadow! Yes, that’s where the novel draws it’s name from.
As the plot progresses,  Salil’s gets over his past with Aalya around him. A successful but sad Seema longs for substance in her life and Aalya helps Seema to bear a fetus in her womb through IVF. Guess who was the sperm donor? Ok, read the book, the obvious would be disclosed to you.
Aalya is a kind person who would do anything to see others happy, and considering her bonding with Seems, this was the best she could offer. Later Aalya marries Salil. The couple belongs to the same caste and their parents arrange their marriage easily, without a single hurdle in their way. The story ends with a surprise twist (in fact the only chapter, basis which the entire plot was framed) and leaves you staring at a blank.
What I liked-

  • Length of the chapters- Short and crisp.
  • Good uses of metaphors to explain philosophies of life and its complexities
  • A positive note in each chapter- You would wish life was as happy as the characters.
  • The cover design and the book name- Enticing and creates mystery
What I did not like-
  • Multiple narrations. Too confusing. The readers have to guess in the beginning of the chapter, who is narrating. There are first and third person narratives change in every chapter! Sad!
  • Slow pace of the story- At times I wished the book had a fast fwd button like a DVD player does.
  • Typos and overtly simple language that made it look like a story being narrated by a school child. A novella should have a wise choice of words. Dialogues were silly in many places.
  • Characters- Too unrealistic, especially Aalya’s parents (such people exist in fiction only) , Seema (a desperate lesbian), strange character of Aalya who is in love with two different gender people at the same time!!
The story moves at a slow pace but on the contrary the incidents are quick. The surprise chapter disappointed me. If nothing is coincidence, then why believe in destiny and God? If you can plan anything and everything, where is the faith in supreme power? And that was my thought about the surprise second last chapter.
I would rate the book 2.5 on 5, as in few places the author has very well explained the core complexities of life yet has been repeated a number of times. Character development of the novella could have been better. The book has nothing new to offer in terms of plot or characters. You can still stiffle your way though the book in few hours.

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