The cover of this book seemed a bit unusual. Except for the tiny illustration in the form of a nametag, the cover looks exactly like someone’s Moleskin diary. On top of it is the fact that the story inside is also written and illustrated in the form of short diary entries. Which honestly, makes us connect with the book a bit more personally. Overall, this is a mediocre comic-book story of an American-Japanese cartoonist, who talks about his loneliness and introspection – mostly embarrassing stories that he encountered during various book events, signings, Comic Cons, etc.
There is some strange comforting feeling about the fact that even an accomplished Cartoonists like Adrian Tomine can have and experience such loneliness and have fears of being unaccomplished and unsuccessful in their career. Makes me wonder how critical we can be of ourselves, at times.
This is a warm book for someone who would be interested in reading about the passing thoughts of authors/illustrators when they aren’t busy building up a story or plot for their upcoming novel.
I liked the book ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ , but I loved its companion novel ‘There’s Something About Sweetie’; which is kind of surprising considering the fact that I tend to stay away from romance books.
There’s Something About Sweetie deals majorly with Fatphobia. But even if you’ve never been body shamed personally, there’s still so much you can relate to while reading this book. The desi rep is so accurate, especially the parents of both the protagonists.
In this sketch I’ve tried to depict the scene when Sweetie and Ashish meet for the very first time, and she ends up winning the duel- err, a running race. Oh yes, they start running the moment they meet.
I loved Sweetie’s zeal of proving herself, her strength and confidence through her secret Sassy Sweetie Project (although she couldn’t keep that secret from Ashish for long ).
The details about her athletic events and Ashish’s basketball matches were interesting too – which would be fun to watch on a screen. Which reminds me, there’s an upcoming Netflix series based on these books called Mismatched; so keep an eye for that, you guys!
Thank you Faguni for introducing me to Sandhya Menon’s books! Check Faguni’s blog for more South Asian recommendations.
I read Dark Tales as part of a book club. It’s one of the first book clubs that I have participated in – ‘Women In Literature’ club, where we read one book per month by strong women authors. The club is hosted by two lovely women- Aritri and Mridula (@theliquidsunset and @ecstatic_yet_chaotic respectively, on Instagram). Dark Tales was the ‘Book Of The Month’ for July. Had it not been for this club, I don’t think I would ever have read it, looking at its title and the genre. But I’m glad that I did read it.
I have stayed away from watching horror for a very long time now. The last horror or paranormal movie that I remember watching is ‘ When a Stranger Calls’, when I was about 12. My entire teen was a story of ups and downs- except it was mostly downs. I had a really bad spell of low self-esteem, less-confidence, etc. for more than a decade. I only realized that I was suffering from it after I came out of this spell, feeling better than ever. I’ve never before touched a proper horror book in my life- except for some children-horror books. I found myself too weak for this genre. I hated it when horror and psychological thrillers in some way, triggered my worst fears and made me even more self-conscious. But currently, I am in a much peaceful mental space than I have been in the past many years, so i thought about giving this book a try.
Dark Tales is a collection of 17 short stories. Each story brings forth a different element. I won’t say that I really liked all these stories, in fact, I liked very few of these stories for their plot. But the fact that I was able to read this genre, after all, made all the difference for me. The book isn’t a regular spooky kind of horror, to be upfront, except a couple of stories. It’s a very subtle kind of horror- the kind which we see and observe in our everyday life, albeit a bit exaggerated with certain kinds of emotions and plot twists. My review could be biased based on three grounds: I’ve read very few classics, and liked even fewer; this is my first proper horror book; and also I don’t remember reading a collection of short stories like this before.
The author’s portrayal of emotions like fear, anger, etc. is so real that it haunts us even when the story isn’t spooky. It is said that Shirley Jackson, in reality, had lived a very sad and terrible marital life and these feelings did come spilling out very evidently through her stories. It’s as though she wrote a small part of her life in each of her small stories.
In some of the stories like ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘What a Thought’, the author plays with the mind of the reader till the very end and then drops a sudden plot twist. Making us believe in the flow of the plot initially, but ending in quite unexpected manner, like deceiving the reader itself!
Her style of writing changes twice or thrice by the time we reach the final story in the book. There was a case of Unreliable Narrator in the story ‘Paranoia’ wherein the protagonist was being stalked the entire time and we as readers, felt like walking in his shoes. The entire story was on uneven grounds, there was no firm narration to it – making us paranoid about which character to actually trust.
The foreword by Ottessa Moshfegh gives away some spoilers in the very beginning but it also perfectly summarizes and comments upon the stories and the writing style of the writer. This is one of those books where the foreword shouldn’t be missed at any cost. It was very necessary to set up the background, before the readers dive into the book.
My ratings: 4/5 ⭐
If you do decide to pick this book up sometime, it isn’t at all necessary to complete it in one shot. You can read the stories separately as they are completely independent of each other. If you are someone like me who has never ventured into this genre before, but would like to someday – this book is a good one to start with. It has just the right amount of darkness and spookiness for a beginner.
Is there a genre that you always seem to run away from? What do you think about horror stories?
I wonder when would people stop politicising things, stop accusing and blaming each other at least during such delicate, unprecedented times.
I wonder when will people come together as one, and cooperate- to plan for a peaceful future.
If we could achieve that, then it would be like winning a small battle.
If all of us take the initiative, standing together – strong and united – we might as well overcome the struggle.
When every individual (at least those in the forefronts) keeps their political differences, their religious preferences, their caste, race, colour aside, it would just be the most positive impact of this crisis, it would feel like winning a war.
Nobody was prepared for this, we all are still in the process of preparing for it. The blame game just delays and worsens the process. Together there’s hope, individually we are all just broken pieces of crumbling economies and failing health care infrastructures.
But of course, this is all just wishful thinking. I will only keep wondering about such utopian world, where people come together as one, and diligently plan for the wellbeing of each other. I might as well wait until forever for it to turn into reality.
Take care, folks, wherever you are! All good wishes. 🙂
What are Quarantine Musings? Just some random, trivial, light-hearted (or maybe even deep?) thoughts that pass through my mind during these lockdown days.
Sometimes, a blank page is all you see. You hold a pen in your hand, thinking about things to say, things to write, things to do; but nothing clicks. Or maybe it does click at times, but your hand doesn’t consider it worthy enough to let the thought flow in the form of ink through your pen.
You have in your hand scores of pressing issues to be solved as soon as possible, personal issues, issues requiring only your personal opinion. Yet, you somehow manage to find silly excuses to postpone it, you rely on other so-called important tasks at hand, to ignore the really important issues.
But procrastination isn’t the solution. Sooner or later, we have to face it, we need to face it, before it’s too late to act upon. But when? But how?
When I was younger, I always wanted to grow up. To grow up so I could be in charge, so I could make my own decisions. I had no say in any of the major decisions that my family took, because I was a child. I hated it.
Now that I’m elder though, I realize how hard it is, to be in charge. I get a say in those decisions, but I never say the say. I mean, today, when I get the chance to speak up, I don’t. I worry instead. I start thinking. I start thinking about the pros and cons. I start thinking about my past mistakes. I start worrying about the future.
As a child, when I looked at any adult I envied them for their independence, their freedom. Now as an adult in my early 20s when I get the same freedom and voice which I so long desired for, I do absolutely nothing about it. It’s only lying rotting day by day in some unseen, dark and damp corner of a long forgotten room.
He wanted to spill it all out. But couldn’t. He couldn’t form the words. They seemed to have stuck somewhere on his tongue, struggling to escape yet kept back by some force. Oh how he wished to break his shell and how he craved to be normal again!