Tag Archives: Satire

Interview with Parimal Kalikar

After having read “A Godly Blunder“, I couldn’t resist shooting a few questions to the debutant author- Parimal Kalikar. Here’s it all !

 

From Hotel Management to a Master’s in Human Resource Management; from earning the first buck as a bell boy to selling credit cards- let’s hear about it all from the beginning in your own words.
I joined Hotel Management with a dream of a suave lifestyle and good money but that dream was shattered with my first training at a five star resort in Goa. I ended up pulling luggage for wealthy guests (Yes you call them guests and not clients in the hotel management lingo). Lost my interest in the line as I did not want to spend years becoming a manager and that’s why I pursued a career in business management. I bagged a job even before I got out of college and I was happy. My hunger for growth and money brought me to Mumbai and I danced. I danced to the tunes of the fast local train schedule, to the tunes of my pushing boss and to the very demanding tunes of the elite clientele. The money was good but I was not happy so I decided to do something that will for a change make me happy.

 

 

What got you attracted towards writing? What prompted you to debut with a full length novel?
I left my job and started planning my own business but with the limited capital it was not easy. In the meanwhile I started writing a story that will talk about the way we approach our problems. Slowly and steadily it started taking shape and when the story was about 15000 words strong I could see the potential and I started putting a serious effort and within the next 2 months I was done with my first novel.

 

 

You know, the most difficult thing is to make people smile, let alone laugh. But your book delivers entertainment to the tee. How did you come up with the idea, the plot and the title?
The problem with us Indians is we get used to the problem very easily. If there is a pothole in the streets we very easily learn avoiding it rather than getting it fixed. We would rather lead unhappy lives and avoid confrontations that may lead to a solution. I don’t subscribe to this cowardly way of living. I started writing about the way a strong headed man from a developed country would approach similar problems and the idea itself seemed entertaining to me. For the plot I took problems from everyday life, some of them even faced by my family. The title was suggested to me by the publisher and I liked it.

 

 

When people write / publish for the first time, it is usually about incidents that they’ve experienced or have been related to closely. How easy / difficult was writing this humorous fictional tale? (I’m sure you did not have to experience “life-up-there” or a close encounter with God to write this.)
Imagining things and day dreaming is something I am very good at so the idea of creating a life up there was not that difficult. Creating a contemporary god was difficult and with a science fiction theme in     my mind I somehow convinced myself of the idea of a young, well dressed god. Conversations with god were the most difficult and with several attempts and guidance from my dear friend Abhishek I could bring out the aura of calmness in his conversations.

 

 

What was the first reaction from friends and family when you smiled and told them you were going to write a novel?
I did not tell anyone except my family that I was writing until I signed the contract with the publisher. Even my family was under the impression that I am writing to spend my free time and when the book was accepted for publishing, everyone was shocked.

 

 

An unforgettable experience that you’d like to share that happened before/during/after the writing process?
When I told everyone that a major publishing house has accepted my book for publishing the first question almost all of my relatives asked, ‘Is it in Marathi?’ As I had most of my education in Marathi medium no one expected me to write in English and it was a happy surprise for all of them.

 

How easy/difficult was it to get yourself published? A budding author like you, we’d like to know your opinion on the overall scenario of the publishing industry.
It was not easy to find a publisher for a novel without a love story or without a love angle what so ever. I was used to the standard reply, ‘Sorry we are unable to accept your work as it does not suit our publishing profile…’ and I had lost hopes when Rupa and co. gave me a chance. I think the overall opinion about Indian authors is changing and the place is getting better and better.

 

 

Name some of your favorite all time authors/ books
I love the works of Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson. I love Sherlock Holmes and Satyajit Ray’s Feluda. A couple of my favorite books include Hussain Zaidi’s Black Friday and Geoffrey Archer’s Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less.

 

 

Have you explored social media platforms to market your book? What’s your take on the growing popularity of social media networking sites?
Yes I have used social media to market my book and I must admit it is the most effective way of getting news around. I think social media websites have become an important part of everyone’s life as they give us a chance to connect with friends quickly and new people easily.

 

 

What next are you working on? And how soon do I get to read it??
I am working on a history based modern thriller and I hope I will finish it in a couple of months so it will be out by the year end I hope.

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Book Review of “A Godly Blunder” by Parimal Kalikar

A lazy weekday evening saw me trying to pick one of the many half-read books piled on my desk. As I wondered about which one to pick and definitely finish it that evening, a new book arrived for me.

My initial reaction- “Yayy!” followed by the grave “Dharm Sankat” kind of look.

I couldn’t wait to open the package and the minute I saw the cover I knew I had to finish my previous pile ASAP before I begin this one –for the simple reason that if I started reading “A Godly Blunder” before finishing my pending books, chances were that I might never return to them.
And boy was I right or Right!!!

I managed to finish 3 books within the next 5 days (with extensive breaks of course) and finally picked up Parimal’s debut offering – A Godly Blunder.

I held the book for a good five minutes before opening it. Pinaki De certainly should be praised for the cover design and illustrations. Very catchy. And funny.
The author’s thoughtful gesture of sending a signed bookmark with a special note on it made me smile.
He even wrote a personalized message thanking me on accepting the book for a review. (At this point, I’d accept a simultaneous “Awww….”from everyone reading this. Thank you.)

And so the journey to read the Godly blunder began.

The story is about a young German man, Oliver, who dies in an accident while at work. He is a quality control manager in a premium car company in West Germany. He finds himself in Heaven, along with his colleague Maik.

Now Heaven is described as a plush hotel (Hotel Paradise) with executive suites for all. The majestic decor of the place and the serenity make for enviable scenes, and you wish to be there than read about it in a book.

Oliver is living a dream it seems. Every day is a Sunday. Sumptuous food, tasteful liquor, splendid wardrobe, premium cars –oh the works! (All this with no “cost” or “fat” factor attached! Truly Blissful!!! Wish I were dead and there.)

Oliver is granted five minutes with the Almighty and the conversation hooks you on.

Twenty five years later (in God’s time) Oliver is called by God for an “assignment”. There seems to be a technical snag in the Soul Management System (SMS) of Swarg and until that is resolved Oliver is required to fill in for a soul (on Earth) who has been wrongly captured. No brownie points for guessing where Oliver is being sent- yes, India! That too Maharashtra!!!

Oliver is to take the place of a middle-class man Siddhesh and thus begins a roller coaster ride for the readers and for Oliver of course!

The corruption, the dishonesty, the “sab chalta hai” attitude, the meaning of “load-shedding”, “ghoos”, “Kharra” and many more things that hit Oliver make for a highly entertaining read.
He is cheated by his relatives, kidnapped by goons, meets a “babaji”, understands the mentality of people around him, and realizes how life in India functions- all in the span of a few months before he is called back.

And you know what – don’t miss out the last page. The crux of the story lies there. It will make you introspect. Even if for a minute.

 

You just know you’ve found a good book when you can’t wait to know what’s in store on the next page.
Parimal’s writing skills are superb. The plot and ideation are gripping. The pace is quite decent and the language is simply effective. The characters are strong and relatable to. Oliver is shown as a brave but sensitive man. You develop genuine concern for him as you read about his kidnapping and distraught state. This shows that the author has managed to establish a connect with his readers.

There are quips of wisdom, and spurts of humor; spears of sarcasm and witty arrows.
Do not miss Oliver’s conversation with the babaji (Chapter: You Don’t Need A God -Pg 131 onwards).

I barely found any flaws –be it in the editing of the book, or the grammar, or the language. Yes, no slangs to make it funny or gross.

Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful experience reading it.

Oh and I finished the book in about 5 hours! (I just got lazy to write the review earlier.)

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Interview with Judy Balan

 

As I walked in to the bookstore for the launch of Judy Balan’s debut novel, Two Fates: The Story of my Divorce, I was greeted with a sweet smile and a hint of a rollicking time!
I managed to get Judy’s time and attention before the launch and indulged in a candid interview.
On enquiring about the ideation of the story, she was quick to respond, “I happened to be in a store   and noticed Drink, Play, F@ck, the parody of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. The author of the    parody had managed to sell film rights to his book and I thought, “Wow! You can simply rip off a  best seller and do wonders!” I was reading Chetan Bhagat’s “Two States: The Story of my Marriage”,  and I thought of doing a parody of the book.
I went home, and posted this incident on my blog and asked my readers if they thought it was a good idea. And most of them reverted with a “yes”. Would you believe it only took me about less than three months to wrap up the book!” smiled the author. Continuing her part of the story, she said, “And it was a wonderful experience. I was surprised as to how quickly I even found publishers willing to launch my book. It truly felt like a Cinderella moment…”

So do we see glimpses of her life in this book? “No no! This is definitely not the story of my divorce,” Judy responded quickly. “In fact the only thing common between me and the character of Deepika is the job (as a copywriter).”
“Oh and the aunties of course! The ones who keep coming up to me or my parents enquiring about my age, and they seem to be obsessing about my marriage and my divorce more than my folks. It’s hilarious (now) but it is so true!”
Digging a bit in to her professional background I enquired about her decision to be a “full time parent”.
“Well, even after those five and a half years in the advertising agency as a copywriter I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t satisfied doing what I was doing. I was scared to quit initially as I did not know what I would do next. Quitting was not an option but when my divorce came through I knew I had to dedicate time to my girl. The ups and downs of divorce were terrible. I took up freelance writing and of course started blogging ardently.”
So how was life at home? “Very different. It was mundane, yes. It took me about a bit to adopt the sedentary lifestyle. There was a drastic change in momentum. But it gave me time to spend with my daughter and write. It was the best thing that happened to me.”
Ask her if she would plunge in to a marriage (or love) again and she chirps, “Why not! I’m a die-hard romantic. A million times bitten and still not shy sort of a person. Divorce hasn’t made me cynical. I’m the incurable optimistic who still writes letter to “the one”. If life gives me a chance to fall in love, I’d dive!”
As the focus shifted to her writing and her blog, she confessed “Blog writing gives you almost instant gratification. Your readers revert real quick. Writing a book, a fiction, needs commitment. It is hard work.”
For those who don’t know, Judy also writes scripts for plays. Her shyness prevents her from being on stage, but off-stage she seems to be the “queen of the written word”. “I would love to have a column someday, though my blog sometimes serves more like a column,” smiled Judy. “But writing an epic adventure series (like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series) is one thing I look forward to. I know it’s a long long way yet, and for now I will focus on light fiction about relationships and break-ups.”
Humor and comedy is one key ingredient Judy feels that she cannot do without in the books she reads and pens. “If you’ve read Two States, you’d get all the jokes in my book”, confessed the author sheepishly.
“I do love romantic comedies. Nothing can quite beat Erich Segal’s Love Story and Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult’s works. I also like reading books by Candace Bushnell and Marian Keyes and Elizabeth Gilbert.”
Getting to the juicy part of the conversation, we asked Judy to share an exclusive detail about her as a writer and she confessed, “My writing will always precede the love of my life. I think I devote more time to my writing than anything else.”
And Judy as a mother? She quickly said, “I’m forever obsessing over the fact that I’m not good enough. Trust me, all that art and craft and wonderful things parents do for their kids, I’m bad at all that.”


Over more smiles and jokes I enquired about her next book and she said, “It’s wonderful how I’ve already signed the deal for my next book. It is again a light fiction. But I can’t give out much on it. You’ll have to wait a bit!”
For sure we would look forward to her next book, since her first one has definitely got us hooked!
It’s true all good things definitely come in small packages. And this package is amongst the best!
I’m sure she captured more hearts and readers with her smile and her book that evening.

 

Grab a copy of her book before the stores run out of copies! You will definitely enjoy the read.

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Book Launch Of “Two Fates: The Story Of My Divorce”, By Judy Balan

Book Launch Of Two Fates: The Story Of My Divorce, By Judy Balan

 

As I walked in to Landmark for the book launch and reading session of Judy Balan’s debut novel - Two Fates: The Story Of My Divorce, I looked around to see if I could spot her. Amidst the crowd she easily passed off as a kid…alright a teenager! Yes, you read me right. A teenager. A young, chirpy one (and I’m tempted to add bubbly too) at that. Her smile, definitely infectious…and her book – oh! So lovable!!!

 

The session had an equally excited young moderator interacting with Judy. Answering the volley of questions with ease, Judy let us on some fun facts too. “This is more of a parody on Two States: The Story Of My Marriage, by Chetan Bhagat,” she confessed. 

 

“Yes, I’m divorced but this is not my story at all. The story of my divorce would turn out like one of Stephen King’s novels!” she laughed.

 

Taking digs at the typical character traits of some of the South Indian aunties she has come across in real life, Judy spoke about her experience of penning the novel and how things somewhat fell in place within a short frame. “It feels like a Cinderella moment, honestly.”

 

Judy read out about a page or two from her book. And I believe no one spaced out. In fact, I am sure, people who heard her read out the passage must’ve run to get themselves a copy of the book. The staccato writing style, I noticed, is one major factor that brings alive the fun that the auhtor intends to present to her readers.

After the interactive bit, she signed a few copies for the eager audience and of course smiled for the shutterbugs. 

  

Thankfully I had enough time to interview her, which you all will read soon. But for now, let me confess, I had a great time at the launch interacting with this fun spirited cherub. And her book is a must read for everyone!

 

P.S – there is no compulsion in wrapping up the book within two hours, really. Though many have done it.

(*Pic of Judy Balan by Siddhesh Kabe)

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Humor in Writing

Humor does rule the world. At least my world.

Reading humorous pieces livens up our day. It breaks the monotone of work and life. Most problems can be fixed with a dose of laughter. But what I like most about humor pieces is the fact that the point under scrutiny is communicated with much effect and quite intelligently. It also reflects a bit of the writer’s character trait. A writer with a good sense of humor will make sure his/her pieces amuse people.

And others on the verge of writing, here’s a bit of information on the various types of humor in writing:

Burlesque – a form of satire. Burlesque ridicules any basic style of speech or writing. (Parody makes fun of specific writings.)

Caricature – exaggeration of a person’s mental, physical, or personality traits, in wisecrack form. Most people think of sketches when you mention a caricature. But this form of humor reflects well in writing too.

Comedy – a ludicrous and amusing event or series of events designed to provide enjoyment and produce smiles or laughter usually written in a light, familiar, bantering, or satirical style. There are also topical, romantic, satirical, and verbal wit comedies.
The word comes from the French comedie which was derived from the Greco-Latin comoedia which was formed by combining komos, meaning “to revel,” and aeidein, meaning “to sing.”

Exaggeration/Hyperbole – An exaggerated witticism overstates the features, defects, or the strangeness of someone or something. Extreme exaggeration is Hyperbole.

Epigram- clever, short saying about a general group. Mostly satire about mankind.

Incongruity – Lack of harmony between two statements or events is incongruity. A particular situation leading to something totally unrelated does bring in a weirdly funny situation. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a good example of incongruity.

Irony – something that has been said or done differently than what was meant. It’s like someone says the opposite of what they mean and the listener believes the opposite of what they said.

Repartee – includes clever replies and retorts. The most common form is the insult.

Satire - wit that is critical humor. Satire is sarcasm that makes fun of something.

Surprise
– Surprise elements bring in suspense and unexpected twists. And humor eventually.

Sarcasm – this is one of the most popular forms of humor in literature. Known to be a sharp, harsh, bitter or cutting remark on something or someone, sarcasm often receives high appreciation.

Parody -humorous version of any well-known writing.

Pun
– Puns are more of word play. Jokes, one-liners and witty remarks often are composed of puns. (E.g.: What disease can one associate with cigarettes? Answer: Premature death.)

Wisecrack
– any clever remark about a particular person or thing. Wisecracks are quick wordplays about a person.

Wit -humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee. Wit is funny because of the sudden sharpness and quick perception. Wit can bite. Verbal wit is a type of humor known as Wordplay.

Another technique to induce laughter is to mold funny characters. Or give them certain personality traits that make them unique, in a funny way. Making characters give unsolicited advice (E.g.:  Advice to people who want to buy a puppy:  Don’t.); or narrating interesting anecdotes that induce laughter; or blending two or more words to make a new one (fantabulous from fantastic + fabulous) induce amusement.
(To be continued…
Books and Authors that make you laugh.
)

(Post by Sanjana Kapoor)

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Comically Tuned

We all love going through the small comic strips that appear in newspapers. There is something about them that always catches our attention. No, it not just about the instant smile that they bring, but the satire on certain socio-political or other critical issues that hooks us on to the graphical representation. The works of R.K. Laxman and Suraj ‘Eskay’ Sriram are cases in point.

Come to think of it, amongst the first things a baby is taught or shown are pictures.
And right from our childhood, reading comics is one of our greatest indulgences.

Kids would create havoc if their monthly subscription didn’t arrive or wasn’t handed to them. Well, at least that was the case in my house.

I remember, my brother and I had an entire rack full of ChandamamaTinkleJataka TalesBahadur (Indrajal Comics),Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu, Pinky, Billoo, Shrimatiji, Shikari ShambhuAkbar and BirbalTantri the Mantri, Suppandi, Nagraj (snake king) whose powers are based on ancient Hindu tales, and various other characters from Amar Chitra Katha, Gotham Comics and Diamond Comics.


Then came Western comics in the form of Archie’s, TinTinAsterix,Dennis the MenacePopeye the sailorSpidermanSuperman, Batman, X-Men and their ilk.

But as we grew up, comics had to take a back-seat – given the academic overload.

Not to forget the advent of television, followed by umpteen animated series on cartoon channels, which was closely followed by the highly engrossing game consoles and the internet lure. Comics and graphic novels lost their readers almost in a jiffy. And surprisingly, us, readers did not seem to miss our “once-upon-a-time-favorite” characters too. Somehow, Mario and Luigi seemed more interesting and car racing was more fun than reading and laughing over Suppandi’s idiocracy.

And soon, comics almost disappeared.

But just like other things in life that have undergone revamping, comics too seem to have come back in a new rejuvenated form.

A new wave of graphic novelists has emerged, in the recent past, to shake up the art form. We no longer see conventional centuries-old myths and folktales adorning the covers of comic books. The new crossover Indian superheroes have gained popularity and a wider audience amongst the adults as well. And subjects now range from subtle social messages about the environment and society to bolder issues of homosexuality and politics.

New-age artists are looking to create brand new superheroes that are quintessentially Indian to see off competition from the likes of Spiderman and Batman.
Amongst the new-age cartoonists and graphic novel designers, we have Sarnath Banerjee, whose graphic novel “Corridor” is set in New Delhi and delves into politics and sex. Sarnath is known to write and develop comics through his keen observations.

River of Stories” by Orijit Sen, that released around 1994 in black-and-white, dealt with the social and environmental impact of a controversial dam, and prompted changes even among traditional comic publishers in India.

Kari” by Amruta Patil, the writer also known as India’s first female graphic artist, centers on a suicidal lesbian and has been dubbed India’s first gay graphic novel. And another, “Kashmir Pending,” by Naseer Ahmed and Saurabh Singh, seen through the eyes of a reformed militant in jail in the disputed region.

A recent Mumbai based start-up, Vimanika Comics, aims to bridge the gap between historical narratives and graphic novels, giving mythological characters a 21st century facelift.
From what I gather, the company’s “The Sixth” series shows Karna, a warrior from the ancient Indian epic “Mahabharata,” in a modern light. The series starts as a high-flying businessman, suffering from recurrent nightmares, discovers he is the reincarnation of Karna.

Another publisher, Campfire, based in New Delhi, is about to launch “Ravana: Roar of the Demon King,” a graphic novel of a story retold over centuries in India but this time seen through the eyes of its primary antagonist — the demon king Ravana.

Fresh initiatives like Manta Ray, Level 10, Random, Abstraction, World Comics India (an NGO floated by young artists, who pick tales of common man’s heroism) Cartoon Watch, Comix.India, Creative Gaga, and many others aim to offer a platform to new talent. This alone shows the uprising the industry is about to notice soon.

Even the virtual world of web-comics has managed to entice readers.
I read this recently and decided to bring it everyone’s notice as well:


Kshiraj Telang has more than a thousand comic strips, many around the middle-class status symbol – a pug puppy on the web. Badmash is created by and aimed at the Indian diaspora. Curry Bear Comics is another popular Indian webcomic that revolves around three South Asian college students and their White friends, taking a dig at the Indian students at odds in America. Fly, You Fools (webcomic) deals with the daily irritants of life in India. Arbit Choudhury, regarded as the world’s first MBA comic character had to be created in India. Though, another Dilbert is what we are waiting for, to comment on our cutely corrupt and jugadu Indian work culture, Sunny Kris, a web comic, focuses on the unique idiosyncrasies of an Indian workplace.

And this is just the beginning.

Bringing back and boosting the fading love for comics, India recently saw the first Comic Con being held in the Nation’s capital, popularizing graphic novels and comics in India.
I heard that the two day convention saw more than 15,000 fans relishing the art in its new avatar. Fans dressed up as various characters, from American superheroes and villains such as Superman, Wolverine, and Harley Quinn to local Indian heroes like Chacha Chaudhary.
The festival had stalls for comics and graphic novels as well as workshops, activities and book launches. Illustrators, cartoonists, designers were awarded and felicitated for their contribution to the world of comics and fun.

Comic Con India also saw many new comics being launched – including “Uud Bilaw Manus: Back with a Vengeance” by young Adhiraj Singh, which shows off a new Indian superhero: a half-otter-half-human from the post-apocalyptic fictional place of “Beehar” in northern India, who fights corrupt officials, among others. That seemed somewhat striking. No matter how modern or western the graphics look; the stories, the subjects and the emotions that it carries is very distinctively local in flavor.
Sumit Kumar’s The Itch You Can’t Scratch, is an adult book, not by common connotations attached to adulthood-sex, but because of its stark honesty.

Amazingly, the sales over the two days at Comic Con spoke volumes about the love for comic books that still exists in a country like ours.

Overall, not just the sales, but the sheer enthusiasm and spectacular attendance and excitement shown by the people stands to prove that comics and graphic novels will never vanish. They had and always will find space in our hearts and bookshelves.

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Book Review of “The Itch You Can’t Scratch” by Sumit Kumar

The Itch You Can’t Scratch

Sumit Kumar



The blurb on the book read:

A Former Writer For Savita Bhabhi, Sumit Kumar Takes The Reader Through His Short But Eventful Life. From The Absurd To The Comical, From Mundane Activities To Mind Blowing Realizations, From Entrepreneurship To Embarrassment. This Is A Self Effacing, Honest View Of The Life Of A Young, Confused Man Suffering From An Acute Case of The Itch You Can’t Scratch.

And rightfully so this book offers all that and much more. Maybe even an itch to read more from Sumit Kumar.

Insanely and extremely funny, witty, quirky, and highly captivating, this book gives a whole new outlook and meaning to “comics” in India. No one can escape Sumit’s radar – not even Sumit himself. Simple plots, tight satire, sarcasm to its max – what more could you ask for!?!

The content, the graphics and the presentation –awesome!

The ideation and the thought behind it all – Legend…wait for it…Ary!!!

It’s expensive no doubt. But then who said humor is cheap.

Go for it. It’s totally worth the money.

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Book Review of “The Boss Is Not Your Friend” By Vijay Nair

The Boss Is Not Your Friend

By Vijay Nair

(A Handbook For Indian Managers To Survive All Things Organizational)

Vijay Nair’s The Boss Is Not Your Friend challenges many theories of self-help management books.

It is more of a good guide to the “real” corporate world and the authorities that somewhat rule it. The book reveals the ugly truth that not many “management gurus” wish to spill. Presenting a collection of true life incidents of people from various corporate worlds, the book takes a dig at the Indian work culture and the people involved. Like: employees are not encouraged to ask questions, but to take orders; it is good to maintain a certain distance from your colleagues and your boss, lest your work gets affected; butter up your boss before the appraisal or be sly in getting a promotion.

Quite refreshing in its style with real life incidents and an interesting set of questionnaire to help classify the different kinds of bosses, and practical advice on how to deal with each type.
The six categories of bosses are quite aptly described, bringing in humor and practicality in dealing with such bosses. The Oily Oyster, The Vicious Viper, The Flattering Fraud, The Crafty Conman, The Burly Bastion, and The Horny Harry.

The narrative is quite funny and contemporary, and highlights latest scams of the corporate world.

The book is definitely unique in approach; offers intelligent pointers; and very realistic in nature. I’d say give it a read to know the truth behind corporate success.

Moral of the book: Beware of your boss. ‘It’ is not your friend.

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Book Review of “Relentless” By Dean Koontz

Relentless

By Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz is known to have delivered excellent work in the past. But of late, the quality of his writing and his ability of creating thrill seem to have dropped.

Relentless is a story of a highly fabulous family, where the father (Cullen) is a successful author, the mother (Penny) is a successful children’s book author and their son (Milo) is a wiz-kid. Their dog, an Australian Sheppard (Lassie) too seems to posses some good odd powers.

Cullen receives a scathing review for his recent novel from a highly influential critic- Sherman Waxx and instead of accepting the truth, Cullen decides to indulge in a (what seems harmless to him) stunt of sorts. But things don’t really go as planned and what begins is a series of spooky, unpredictable events that venture into harrowing Cullen’s family and everyone around them.

Certain parts of the story are simply sad. And not literally – I mean really sad and lame to read. A six year old with a thing for Physics, inventing incredible gadgets and devices and doesn’t wish to explain it to his parents; a dog with odd powers (cute and adorable); Penny’s parents who believe that humanity is on its way downhill and soon there won’t be any power tools and hence they are trying to get accustomed to such ways of life already – I mean – really!?!

The humor is so forced at places that it is unbelievable. Yes, the ideation is nice but the execution ain’t. The plot seems to be stretched a bit longer that required.

Overall a quick good read with sprinkles of science fiction / humor / satire / suspense.

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Book Review of “Pyramid of Virgin Dreams” By Vipul Mittra

Pyramid of Virgin Dreams

By Vipul Mittra

A brilliantly written satire that reveals the professional lives of IAS officers and the babus in government offices.

I had to go slow with the book not just because of its pace, but because I loved the language. And I wanted to savor each word till the very last page. What a finely written piece of fiction! The quality of writing is much higher than seen in any of the contemporaries. Commendable literary work.

Authors usually write in simple short crisp sentences to make it easier for the masses to understand the plot/story. Vipul is a brave-heart to have indulged in an intellectual usage of dominating words that are not complicated but definitely need undivided attention to make sense in the reader’s head.

The story overall is pretty interesting. It is broken in different bits that reveal Karthikeye’s growing up years; his determination to get into IAS; his will to be an idealistic officer; his disagreement (sometimes) with his conscious (selfmusing); his fantasies; his constant transfers; his married life; and his interaction and perception of other people in the bandwagon of bureaucracy and society. He is a mature, wise, idealistic, humorous and an honest IAS officer (a rarity in real life!).

The narration is interesting and the instances very relatable. The books gives a good insight to the world of babudom – the tongue-n-cheek incidents, the sarcasm, the power play by the ones in higher seats, and the ass-kissing agents (Joshi), are very smartly portrayed.

There’s emotion, satire, humor, and a bit of romance. Kartikeye, his wife Akansha, his kids (Chirag and Roshni), his conscious “Selfmusing”, are very finely sketched.

The pace of the plot is somewhat slow. But thankfully it does not have a hoard of characters. A refreshing insider’s take on the working of government office and officials, smeared with comical caricatures that reflect the “real taste” of India.

Aspiring civil services aspirants should give this a read.

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