Mango Chutney: An Anthology of Tasteful Short Fiction – Harsh Snehanshu
I bought Mango Chutney primarily because a friend’s story is a part of it. I keep saying that I love reading short stories’ collections. Anthologies, on the other hand, are not something I am comfortable reading. Multiple authors, multiple styles of writing, different kinds of languages, personally I find it a very dicey mix of flavours; one never knows if the stories deserve to be together, if they really do complement each other.
Seventeen year old Ruchika Goel, author of End of a Weekend and fourteen year old Harsha Pattnaik, author of The Birthday Boy have spun tales which one wouldn’t usually expect from someone so young. Wise beyond their years, the plots of both the stories are intricate yet simple.
Sayan Halder’s Miracle was nicely written, though it gave the feeling of old wine in new bottle. Benched by Abhilasha Kumar caught my fascination towards the end. The story progressed normally, two friends sitting on a park bench, having a conversation. What did strike was how the author detailed the scene like it was a picture and not the story. It did strike, but I surely didn’t expect the end to be what it is! Brilliant!
Abhishek Asthana’s The 37th Milestone is a good story. It’s not easy to write a short story, include all possible sentiments in a few pages, let alone, a horror/mystery story. This one is a very well laid out, and the plot gains momentum at just the right pace, dropping the climax perfectly on target.
Valentine Lost by Siddharth is about young love which never gets closure. I quite like how the story progressed and ended. The last paragraph however, mellowed the experience for me, somehow.
Giribala Joshi’s The Girl Who Owned Castles is one of my favourite stories in this book. However, I feel it could have been given a better treatment, probably during editing. Arjun Bhatia’s Sawai, a story of a blind boy’s journey to being as independent as he dreamt to be, is another well-written story. Shruti Vajpayee’s Friendzoned is an ironic take of how most of our lives are – we pining for the ones who don’t care for us, and ignoring those who do. Shubham Kapur’s The Rejection Ceremony and Urvashi Sarkar’s The Proof of Birth deserve special mention.
Reading story after story, some nice and some average, I kept wondering why there are so many of them. Stories, I mean. A smaller collection could have delivered a better package. Editing and proof reading leave a lot to be desired. Fonts are too small.
Twenty seven short stories, one of the marketing statements of this book is, ‘….India’s finest writers’. I had not heard of most of the authors until I read this book.