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K.H. Muthusubramanian

CONTEMPORARY INDIAN SHORT STORIES
Edited by Ka Naa Subramanyam
Vikas, New Delhi, 1977, 168, 5.00

VOLUME II NUMBER 3 May-June 1977

Here is a collection of sixteen short stories including one by Ka Naa Subra­manyam himself. Not all are short stories—at least one is an epic in a terse form: Ramapada Choudhury's Festal. Short stories focus one or two facets of actual life, with spontaneous embel­lishments which should not, however, erode into verity. Whether short stories set the pace for diffusion of social think­ing, or it is the other way round, is hard to establish. It will be safer and more appropriate to surmise that these are mutually complementary. Viewed this way, Amrita Pritam's Stench of Kerosene and B.K. Bhattacharya's The Golden God­dess deserve to be adjudged as prototypes of contemporary short story writing. C. Radhakrishnan's The Bear and Shrawan Kumar's The Storms have all the traits of short stories: short, mono­faceted, crisp, facile and absorbing. The significance of Vasudha Mane's The Purple Haze could have been woven for a better finesse. Nevertheless, the story rambles as lightly as Anantamurti's Initiation, Bakshi's Go to Ten House or Mahapatra's Bells for a Bull. In The Golden Goddess the surprise-suspense element has been done away with at the earlier stage of the build-up. It is a mini short story establishing the miscibility of orthodoxy and village with sophistication and town-breeding. The improbables in Initiation take away the edge from an otherwise fascinating rural cameo. So are the impossibles in A Death (Na Muthusamy). Rajinder Singh Bedi's Lajwanti has a spot of parable while Jainendra Kumar's Jahanavi has been contrived without a fault. Ka Naa Subramanyam's Bosanski Novi is a unique attempt of Indian short story writing in an alien environment. It would have been really more absorbing a piece but for the repetition of phrases like ‘gay abandon’ in close proximity. Short story writers, like budding poets, have undoubtedly the licence to deviate from grammar and syntax. Yet short story writing must unfold literary acumen and decor, as well as stand the scrutiny of literary attainment. When Ka Naa indulges in long drawn out sentences, interest in the story gives way to irrita­tion. Thus, a sentence in page 162 starts with the vending of coffee in a moving train, traverses through various topics and ends up in instant love making by two strangers! With 67 words it is not the longest. Ka Naa Subramanyam has, by way of apology, stated that the selections are not the best ...


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