Saturday, 15 November 2014

Book Review – The Bluest Marble

Author – Vipin Kumar
Publisher –
Genre –Fiction/Urban Life
Pages – 264
Price – Rs.249

Sneak from the cover
With portraits that both touch and disturb, corporate politics, Mumbai night life, Dalal Street, lower middle class Delhi and psychological “illness”, the Bluest Marble is a sensitive exploration of young urban aspirations and angst in the age of economic turmoil.
The Cover
A lone tree sans any leaves make for the simple cover. But there is also blue marble (kancha) sitting pretty on one of the branches. Makes me wonder…no matter how sad things are, there is always a ray of hope.
The words below the title somehow confuse me, “Is it always about loving your friend and family?” I open the book to read why the author feels so.
My View
The book begins with the fast pace life of amchi Mumbai. An investment banking job worth flaunting, a luxurious living, a bachelor pad with college friends Rakesh and Jitu, a mean machine, who well, does more than just transport Aditya’s life was at bloom with happiness. Then slowly, autumn strikes and the leaves start falling. Still not recovered by the heartbreak from a lost love, his career faces the wrath of a turbulent economy and he loses his job. It is then that he realises the utopian world he had been happy with was somewhat a fallacy. That his friends had been just “the friends in good times”.
Aditya also has a strange tendency to hallucinate. So after every few pages, you see him hallucinating about his ex girlfriend or even with his bike. While it is tolerable the first few times, the dragged dialogues with no value addition prompt the reader to flip the next page and find something meaningful in the story.
The next part of the story shows Aditya running away from his dismal present to find solace. But the more he runs, the noisier it gets in the mind. There is a very detailed account of his home in Adarsh Nagar in Delhi. And by detailed description, there is so much of it that at one point, I wondered if the author belongs to that place and has got emotional while penning down the debut. If not, a crispier account too would have been welcome.  
Peace and self realisation finally comes calling, not in the company of loved ones, but alas, in a mental hospital in the company of fellow patients. Well, that’s the irony of life! How? The review doesn’t offer spoilers so read the book to know more. It is here that the story takes a serious turn, and you empathise with Aditya. I really liked the description of Aditya’s self discovery under a keekar tree, akin to Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. But just when I wanted a detailed account, I see a hurry to draw the curtains. The discovery of the secret to happiness and the discovery of bluest marble is all so concise that I wondered what suddenly happened that had not happened in the last 250 odd pages. Then the last few pages show the sudden transformation and good times, like the climax of a regular Hindi movie!
Overall, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the author to try something different in the debut itself. Hope, the expression will improve book by book.
What I loved about the book
Despite the few shortcomings, I recommend the book for a good attempt at a different flavour. The book will at some point make you think about your life too, the ups and downs that went by and the blue marble that each of us can find within us.
What could have been better  
The hallucinations with the ex girlfriend and the dialogues with the bike get over after a point. The Delhi darshan account could have been crispier and much more time could have spilled over to the actual crux of the story in the climax.
My rating
About the Author
After co-authoring award winning plays at IIT Bombay and penning numerous unpublished stories and poems, this is Vipin Kumar’s maiden attempt at being published. With a passion to tell an “honest story”, Vipin actually admitted himself in a hospital to do justice to the hospital episode in the book!
Hope to read more good works by you Vipin.

This review is for The views are strictly my own and under no influence.

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