Monday, May 11, 2015

Book Review: Marijuana Diaries compiled by Paulami Duttagupta

  • ISIN: 978-81-8400-523-3
  • Genre: Anthology
  • Publishers: Fablery
  • Price: Rs. 199/- (I received the book for review from one of the authors)

Marijuana Diaries, an anthology on addiction and obsession, has 17 stories by new and established writers. As writers introspect and celebrate addictions of various forms, the pages of this diary fill up.

Contributors: Gulzaar, Raghuvir Shekhawat, Paulami DuttaGupta, Nethra A, Deepali Junjappa, Meera Bharadwaj, Rubina Ramesh, Janaki Nagraj, Priyaa Trippayar Sahasranaman, Brindaa Lakshmi, Reshma Ranjan, Aparajita Dutta, Ahana Mukherjee, Nehali Lalwani, Rochelle Potkar, Subha N Nivedita and Dr. Tahmina Khaleel.

Behind The book

Source: Goodreads

 About the author

Born in Shillong, many moons ago, with schooling at Loreto Convent, and an English Honors from St. Edmunds College, Paulami Duttagupta started her career with All India Radio Shillong. She had written and also given her voice to a few shows there. Later she came down to Kolkata and got a post graduate degree in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University. She had also taken up a fancy to learning Spanish, but today confesses that she has forgotten most of it.

She has written for ‘The Times of India’ in the ‘Guwahati-Shillong plus Edition’ and also ‘The Shillong Times’. Television had always attracted her and was connected to the Bangla TV industry for about 6 years. She was associated with ETV- Bangla, Akash Bangla and Sony Aath in this period.

Having left her day job in 2012, Paulami took up full time writing. Her first novel, “Pinjar” released in early 2012. Her second novel “Unplanned Destinty” released in 2014. She is also the screenplay writer of the national award winning Khasi film – “Ri Homeland of Uncertainty”. “Ri” has been adapted into a novel and is releasing in Spetember’14. She is currently working on her next project as movie script writer. Apart from writing full length novels, she has written several short stories and articles. She has also contributed to the “Minds@work Anthology” and the “Family Matters International Anthology” in 2013.

Recently she has contributed to the “Learning and Creativity Anthology” , “Her Story Anthology”, and “Celebrating India – Love across Borders Anthology”. When she is not writing or watching movies, Paulami is either reading biographies or classic pieces of literature. Cricket, food, cinema, books and music are an integral part of her life.

Me thinks

The first thing you notice about this book is its uniqueness. Having an anthology on addiction is a novel concept, completely different from all those anthologies that are flooding the markets in the recent times.This book is a perfect concoction of love, deceit, desire, greed, lust and all that you could associate with addiction. Things which seem to be your life, turn into the very things that result into your death – such is the power of addiction. 

The stories are unique and distinct with a very strong tone of their own, each setting a new benchmark in itself. Having said that I would also like to add that this book is not for people who are light readers. This book is for a niche audience who enjoy reading, are willing to read between the lines and are able to guess all that is left to the reader’s imagination by the authors. It is not a light and entertaining read. On the contrary it is a read that will haunt you long after you are done reading it.

Some worth mentioning authors – Janaki Nagaraj, having read her blog and stories before with this one the author has finally arrived. She has grown as a writer in this one and it shows in the finesse with which she has written her story.

Second favourite would be Rochelle Potkar’s story. Take a bow Rochelle! You have outdone yourself with this one. Not to forget Rubina Ramesh. Her short story holds the potential of becoming a full-fledged novel in itself. Though it did leave me wondering as to where the addiction angle was in this, nevertheless the story is absolutely magical. Her writing so fluid that a reader has no choice but to get engrossed in it deeply. Brinda Lakshmi’s story talks about the most common fear amongst women and she explores this addiction so naturally that you would feel it is your heart talking aloud. Nehali Lalwani’s story brings out the human ethos so very well that it moves you to tears, while you have Nivedita’s story that has you in splits. Narration at its best, holding onto the magic of short stories that always have one simple rule – short and sweet.

Having talked about the strong points now let’s look at the flip side. Coming from Fablery I had a lot of expectations from this book atleast in the editing department where it failed, disappointing me big time. Some so very common mistakes have been ignored that it is a dampener for a book that has likes of Gulzar as of one of the authors in it.

Secondly some stories are too deep and mystical making a reader brood which is very good but then there are quite a handful where it takes a while for the reader to understand what the actual addiction in this story was and its plot. Some stories held a lot of promise when they began but fizzled out somewhere in between leading to a very damp ending making me go back to the beginning and read it all over again to get the crux of the story. One of the reasons why I read one story every night and let it stay in my psyche till I could get complete hang of it. Otherwise writing a review would have been difficult. This makes the book fall into a category where it is not for the masses, as not all can connect with its depth.

I would recommend this for the sheer brilliance of work some stories are, they definitely are worth a read.The writers have managed to redefine addiction for you and take you on a new high, albeit a literary one!

Foodie Verdict
This book is like parwal mithai - Rare, unique, sweet and nevertheless enjoyable but might not suit everybody's taste buds.