Having just entered puberty, Bride had been forced to marry with Groom, whom returned to his hometown after doing many years of jail time and more than fifty years older than her. At first she was afraid, she cries, even resists, having equipped with patchy and second hand sayings, she did not know what is going to happen to her. Sitting in the nuptial chamber with horror, she will start to face with realities after grandfather-aged broom steps into the room.
^That is a summary of the film Lal Gece, or "Night of Silence", and not Calamity and Other Stories
by Daphne Kalotay, because to approach Calamity and Other Stories
by Daphne Kalotay with any integrity at this hour would be tiring, more tiring than I could bear. The book just opens up too many questions: questions about marketing, about publishing, about collections and gender roles, and the place where all of these things intersect. Selfish questions that might even have no place in this review. But suffice it to say that I needed a break, and I took one. This book is light, but satisfying, a palette-cleanser of sorts. Featuring the kind of prose reviewers like to call "spare" and "simple", I imagine it as kind of portrait of what appeals to most readers at this cultural moment: brief personal tales as splintered as our attentions, but unified by character and place, limning a larger narrative that never quite has to be spelled out; stories that can be entertaining and at least appear to be scraping the soul's barrel for real human verities
, while remaining indelibly white and middle class.
The stories are all built upon the well-mined territory of relationships between women and men. Interestingly, a blurber notes the absence of epiphanies, and this is both a strength and a weakness here. On the one hand, it is nice that Kalotay will allow a story to simply drift off or peter out without trying to impose some grand capital-'M' Meaning. But on the other, she really finds nothing to offer up in its place, which can lend the stories an odd cut-out feel, as if the epiphany has simply been snipped off, and we are left staring through one story and into the next. In this sense, each denouement unfolds more like a caesura than an ending -- an aspect somewhat cushioned by the idea of the 'themed collection' or 'novel in stories', but a bit unsatisfying, overall.
Despite these minor flaws, the book succeeds on the strength of its characters and what others might call her keen insights into human behavior
. I like to think of authors more as imagination-ists than psychologists, so I will praise, am praising, the book on those merits instead.
To the bedtime!
Edited by noob - 12/18/13 at 10:46pm