Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Guest Review: Blue: The Tranquebar Book of Erotic Stories

Reviewed by : Pinak Kapadia



What are your expectations when you pick up a book of erotic stories? And how do you judge whether the book that you are reading is a good book or not? By literary style, Grammar usage, plot, story, etc? Or by the simple criteria whether the book manages to arouse some emotions in you for which it is supposedly written? 

The book's name is a tribute to the days of blue films, which most of us have watched one time or the other in our life. It is a collection of short erotic stories and poems by mostly new, unpublished authors from Sri Lanka, and edited by a famous short story writer Ameena Hussein. It has around 14 stories with a few poems thrown in. I was pretty pumped up when I started reading this book, hoping for some fresh insights on sex, which is the most ignored topic in mainstream literature. I was hoping to be transported to the land of Kama Sutra, and get my hormones flowing like a teenager. After reading a couple of stories, quitting the book, leaving it by my bedside where it kept staring at me annoyingly for a month, and finally finishing it at one go, I can safely say that the book lets down everyone who has ever been associated with its publication. Most of all, it lets down its reader. 

It is not an easy art to get your message across in the 10 pages of a short story. And when it is an erotic story, you have an even tougher task to grab the visualisation and imagination of the reader. You need to set up a situation, make the protaganists attractive enough, get their chemistry going, and finally get them together to, what you can call literally and figuratively a climax. Most of the authors in this anthology skip the situation, character, story part and jump directly to the climax. There are a couple of stories that do manage to string on a plot, and they are better than the others. But they cannot salvage the book on their own.

The editor attempts to assemble different genres together like teens exploring their sexuality, frustrated housewives, two strangers together in a cinema hall, the love of a convent student for her female teacher, the men bored in marriage and finding solace in phone calls, the unwitting involvement of a young girl in molestation etc. While the themes themselves seem appealing at times, the execution of stories is amateurish, if I were to be kind. 
The poems take the cake. It gives the authors the liberty to bring out all irritating sex-related metaphors and get them flowing without rhyme or reason. Not that the stories resist the temptation of using bad metaphors. Metaphors like 'Manicured garden', 'Heat-activated missile', etc. make you either to laugh out loud or tear apart your hair, depending on what is your mood at the moment. And I can promise you that your mood will be anything but erotic.
Avoid this book if you are seeking for some escape from daily humdrum lives. It is more like stumbling onto some B-Grade porn clips instead of watching a passionate scene. You are better off picking up some Nancy Friday, or websites like literotica.

Read it if you really want to for the couple of good stories, or if you want some good laughs by reading it aloud with your partner.

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