Sunday, September 1, 2013

Shades of Sin:Behind the Mask - A Collection of Short Stories

Title :Shades of Sin: Behind the Mask
Author: Various(Vivek Bannerjee, Upneet Grover,Saksham Aggarwal, Aanandita Chawla,Vrinda Baliga, Sreelatha Chakravarty)
Genre: Short Stories, Fiction

It’s an intriguing collection. All the 25 stories are about the dark side of human beings.  A side which lets itself loose when given space, excuse or circumstance. A side which exists in every one of us but a side we refuse to acknowledge. A side which needs to be analysed, rationalised even neutralised. The stories will compel you to do this analysis fulfilling the purpose of the collection as stated in the foreword to the book. The Cover of the book needs a special mention. It is very interestingly designed, the half shrouded man and a barren tree against the dark sky prepares you for a foray into the mysterious and the sinful, compelling you to start turning the pages.

The stories are divided into 3 sections Light Grey , Dark Grey and Black…increasing in degree of the darkness, arranged so that they achieve a crescendo as we read on. The all pervasive human weaknesses are very strikingly brought about.  All the shades of darkness such as lust ,greed, anger, ego, jealousy, pride  and oppression have been touched upon.

The authors have really worked hard to make the plots and style slick and polished. The protagonists in the stories come across as normal human beings who have been overpowered by their emotions or who have lost their rationale due to their innate weakness.

“The Blue Shoes” by Saksham Aggarwal in the light grey section was very interesting to read. The pun on the word soul and the bantering of friends despite the philosophical bent was just like out of the diary of Makrand’s best friend. Similarly “An Illicit Thought” by Sreelatha Chakravarthy was just fabulous with its subtlety and empathy for humane desires however amoral and the acceptance of it. “Kalpana” by Anandita Chawla is a heart rending description of woman and child abuse and is exquisitely written. “The Bet” and “The Yellow Top” by Vivek Bannerjee are crisp and chilling.  “The Confession” and “The Diary” both by Upneet Grover in the Black section are masterpieces showing the extent of human degradation and its effects.

All the 25 stories are engrossing and intriguing. Editing is slick and accurate. This is a book which will force you to introspect and understand human psychology. The only drawback is that the constant darkness leaves you a little less hopeful. But that was the intention of the authors and editor: To make us aware of this darkness prevailing around us so that we are more inclined to make things better and ourselves less inclined to evil. 

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