Narain who lusts for Munika, hypnotized by her bosom in The Arithmetic of Breasts, and old Jaganlal who wants a favour from young Dia in The Room with a Sea-view.
Jackie who is in love with Nic in Sky Park, and the surgeon in Dr. Love who is changing much more than Sneha’s hairline, nose, lip and chin.
Shonali and Neel who are realizing that infidelity might not be such an easy thing in The Scent of a Conscience, and a woman who walks the tight rope between tradition and sexual exploitation in A place they call Scary.
Sunil who meets the woman of his desires in What Men Want through an adult dating site.
Through these stories, Rochelle Potkar explores the intensely personal ‘unrelationship’ that exists alongside its conventional and socially articulate twin, the relationship.
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When the author approached me for a review for this book, my first reaction was to almost refuse. Can you blame me? I am not a fan of erotica and the book title suggested that the book might be so. I took a chance and asked the author about explicit scenes in the book and she said (and I am paraphrasing here) ‘Some of them have small explicit scenes that are needed for the flow of the story. They are integral and not item numberish.’ I have to say, I loved the way she put it and I said yes to review the book.
The first story is the title story of the book. When I started reading it, I felt disappointment at first, curiosity next and soon I was so immersed that I did not even realize when I reached the end of the book. Yes, the stories have explicit content and as such the target audience should be adults. But I loved the way the author has handled everything – from love, lust and infidelity. Sometimes even with the best intentions, the stories do not convey much and even the most beautiful themes come across as bawdy and obscene. But I am happy to report that Rochelle Potkar has handled things extremely well. She has managed to get to the bottom of all the feelings and bring them up and narrate them in a beautiful manner. These stories are not for everyone… They each have a certain depth that will be evident only if you approach the book with an open mind.
I have always felt that books can change the outlook of its readers. With the cheap romances that are flooding the market, people think that love and lust is the same thing. Or, that it is okay to have a number of partners at the same time or that one night stands are ‘cool’ things to do, that girls enjoy being eve teased or that girls eventually fall in love with their stalkers. The list goes on… And in a way, the author was right, on two counts, when she said that the scenes in her book were not item numberish. First, yes it is now the ‘IN’ thing to do – put a bedroom scene in the book to sell books – like item numbers are done for movies. And secondly, the explicit scenes are much needed in her stories, not to sell sex, but to show the emotions that run much deeper than just the surface figure of a person. I did not mean to rant but this is something I feel very passionately about – Love CAN exist between two people who have not even held hands and love stories can be told without sex scenes.
Coming back to the book - The Arithmetic of Breasts, Dr. Love, The Scent of a Conscience and The Room with a Sea View are my favourites in the book. The stories are short and crafty. Each story has something to offer to its readers only if they are willing to look for it – even a message if you know where to look. The depth of human emotions have been explored and exploited well in the stories. The author’s narrative style and striking language makes this book what it is and it is impressive to say the least. Like it is with short stories sometimes, the author has given an open ending to some of the stories that will make you stop and take a breath and think.
But I will say this once again – this book is not for everyone. This is a bold book from a bold author. If you are looking for a light read or the likes of those commercial love stories, do not pick this book up. You will not do it justice. If you are willing to read with an open mind and explore along with the author and maybe even take away some lessons from it – go ahead and give this book a try.
Review Copy received from the Author