Book Review: These Circuses that Sweep Through the Landscape by Tejaswini Apte-Rahm
2nd August, 2017
A man is obsessed with collecting beetles. Four friends meet for drinks and realise their friendship is not as simple as it looks on the outside. A lady discovers that she is made of cotton.
Each Story with a Different Flavour
This is a whimsical collection of short stories mostly set in India. And the takeaway? It is a brilliant collection of stories. However let me add that most of the stories have a strong sense of magical realism in them. So yes, you have unexplainable events, strange twists and bizarre endings popping up. If you are someone who dislikes this genre, chances are you will end up hating this book. But if you are an admirer of magical realism in literature, pick a copy of this book as soon as you can.
The author surprises you by serving a different kind of entertainment in each story. This is remarkable because often we see a collection of short stories that seem too similar to one another or to a particular theme which might dull the flavor of the collection as a whole. While most of the stories are wonderfully written, there were a few that I did not enjoy at all (Thank God for Star Trek, The Girl who loved Dean Martin). I think the book could have been a stronger work if these were excluded. Another story, The Mall had a great central idea, but it was too lengthy to be an enjoyable read.
As I mentioned earlier, each story offers a very different kind of experience. My favourites in the collection are Sandalwood, Cotton, House on the hill and Drinks at Seven.
I loved Cotton for the pure bliss of strangeness to it. It is the story of a woman who finds out she is a doll stuffed with cotton but cannot remember if she has always lived that way.
In House on the hill, a servant girl eats something that is not meant for her. I love stories that have excellent descriptions of food and I adored reading this one.
Homo Coleoptera is about a beetle collector who is obsessed with his work and suspects his beautiful wife of having an affair.
Drinks at Seven is brilliant for the way it keeps you on the edge throughout the conversations between few friends.
Mili was a slow and quiet story about old love. However I did think that even though it is a lovely story, it does not blend well with the collection.
Sandalwood is about a wife whose husband confesses to her after seventeen years of marriage that he is a homosexual and starts a new life with his partner and kids. But the wife is not able to let go of the family life they shared.
These Circuses that Sweep through the Landscape is a story that touches many subtle points about architecture, the practicality of structures, the beauty and art in construction, the banes of advertising through flex boards, retired life and many other matters of significance. It had an interesting twist to the story as well but was a tad too lengthy to hit the right spot.
Final Verdict :
Tejaswini has a lot of potential and I hope to see more of her stories in the future. I hope she will pen down many more stories in the genre of magical realism. Fingers crossed.
Title : These Circuses that sweep Through the Landscape
Author : Tejaswini Apte-Rahm
Publisher : Aleph
Language : English
Pages : 157
Rating : 4/5
Disclaimer : Much thanks to Aleph for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
Do you have recommendations for magical realism short stories?