Monday, December 04, 2006

A Salacious Tale

By Sunil K Poolani

Over the Edge
Randhir Khare
Rupa & Co
Pages: 288; Price: Rs 295

Salaciousness is a state of mind, which allows a creative person indulge in writing or creating an art form that can be termed as obscene and grossly indecent and/or that appeals to or stimulates sexual desire. Simply put: lascivious. Randhir Khare, in his latest book, Over the Edge, achieves the unmanageable: to pen a raunchy diatribe masquerading as a novel.

The storyline of the book (well, if there is one) is this: Biren (by all practical purposes a deranged guy) pays a visit to Calcutta to stay at a girlfriend’s place. This girlfriend in question (Zady) turns out to be a nymphomaniac and though they are not really lovers she uses Biren as some kind of a sex toy.

So, when Biren reaches Zady’s flat, she is not there: gone for a month’s vacation to get more pleasure somewhere out. Biren here encounters Joseph Mellow, an old nutcase who is a part-time writer; Mellow’s favourite pastime is to jump from his balcony to Zady’s balcony like a chimpanzee.

The crazy characters do not end with them. See this array: Pepita, whose is better known as Ma G Spot; Maria, the Hawaiian-born wanderer conceived by hippy parents; Clarissa, the Swedish bombshell; Kimiki, the tiny Japanese; Sakoontala, who communicates through a flute and her voluptuous body; Benito, the Italian big-mouth; Swami Anandaneshwar, the massage specialist; the mysterious Swami Arjuna. All of them reek of sex — bad sex.

The blurb informs us that “the narrative is simple, colourful and oft times brutally honest.” Hardly. I have never seen a more blatantly lying book blurb like this. Okay, let’s come back to the story. Biren reaches Calcutta. Then what happens? Nothing. He just meets one crazy character after another and the most irritating aspect of the narration is that most of them talk in first person, thus spoiling the tempo (if any). Since the author is also a published poet, the novel is peppered with poems throughout. This technique is totally unwarranted and in no way contributes to the growth of the book.

Now, sample this semi-porn passage (I am only reproducing the saner one; some of them will find space even in third-rate porno magazines that you find on Mumbai streets): “The general’s wife has been watching me from one corner of the bedroom. There she sits on a stool, rubbing herself between the legs with two fingers. When she discovers that the general is dead, she calls out to me, ‘come here, give it to me, give it to me’ (page 58). Why Rupa & Co decided to publish this ‘magnum opus’ looks like a mystery.

As if all these are not enough the production of the book is a reader’s nightmare. Two sentences in the end of page 38 are repeated in the beginning of page 39; and on page 40 two sentences seem to have been left out in the beginning.

While I am trying to find words to sum up this review, the author comes to my rescue (on page 90): ‘Is this a joke? A poor, sick joke?’ Thank you Randhir Khare, it could not have been more apt.

Deccan Herald