Reading the introduction that Rajeev Nanda (the author) gives to his new book ‘Conversations’, one would get the feeling that it is going to be a highly complicated philosophical rant, especially because he pays tribute to the likes of Ayan Rand, Aristotle, Victor, etc. Although it is not heavy on your brain, ‘Conversations’ does turn out to be a preachy collage of various controversies that the bourgeois faces in this generation.
Primarily ‘Conversations’ is a collection of poems and novellas of the author, each varied in plot, yet linked by the idea to invoke rationalism & individualism within oneself. This it does by plunging deeper into the inner self questioning some of the conventional & controversial things that the Indian community today faces in its personal life: be it in motherland or abroad and tries to answer some of them while predominantly succeeds in making the reader think in a different perspective. But the problem starts when the reader feels a déjà vu, in these sermons. Adding to that, the style of writing which though isn’t complex to be fair, is quite bland and uninspiring.
In most of the novellas that features in this book, the story or rather the concept is commendable, yet, the approach to convey that lacks the extra punch that would push the reader to turn to the next page. If not for the job to review this book, I wouldn’t have cared to finish this book, which neither brings a smile to my face nor captivates my imagination and by that my brain. Agreed there were instances where the novellas did ooze of great ideas, but it never got backed by the requisite skills to prune it in an appealing manner. As a result, all the concepts and ideas are served to us stark naked. Were it been a book on theories and case studies on those theories, this blunt approach could have work, but for a medium which requires huge amount of freshness and novelty the book craves for want of creativity in expressing those noble ideas.
Disappointments apart, the book boosts of some wonderful poems. Though the poem lacks in the same department as did the novellas, the inherent advantage of a poem to be serene without divulging much, augers well here. On the contrary, Rajeev forgets to employ the same art in the novellas. For example, in the short story – ‘Intersection’ a highly character driven novella, the contrasting characters instead of conveying their contrast through events, resort to verbal descriptions. As a result the pain that the lead characters endure doesn’t reach the readers; in short the emotional connect that is needed for such philosophical tales is missing. I wonder if Rajeev had Paulo Coelho as his inspiration this could have avoided, for both take simple events and try to weave a philosophical tale out of it. The problem can also be due to the fact that each story has simplistic endings – far away from reality that doesn’t justify the complex scenario that was built up in the story earlier – example – soldier.
To sum up, ‘Conversations’ is recommended for readers who are novices to philosophical books.
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