Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"No plug in my bathtub"

Every one of you, sometime or the other must have hated the City you are living in. That is the underlying current of “Don’t read it if you are stupid” by Tibor Fischer. The central characters of this short story collection are sick of London. Well, I had no idea of a Tibor Fischer or the book; not even remotely heard of! But the book was under literature category and I was looking out for some lighter stuff.

At the first instinct, after finishing the first story, I had an impression that he is another J.D.Salinger in the making; the book is yet another “Catcher in the rye” in the stall. But a deeper thought and successive stories disapproved. Tibor takes a different stride, with his blunt, opened-up writing save the burnt-up-central-characters. Whether it is contemplation about Russian bottoms or a near-to-death-experience in a revolutionist camp, he talks in the same tone! Initially this “openness” sounded somewhat awkward to me. But I got used to it as I continued.

“The bookcruncher” impressed me a lot. Till reading this story, I kept Tibor in a different plane, a writer with the lighter sense of heart. But this one story stands out specifically for the serious thought it carried about reading books. The most beautiful aspect of this story is its screenplay. The crust of the story was well carried on till the last two pages. Another story with a crafty screenplay is “Self portrait of an artist as a foaming death monger.” (Tibor is obsessed with big titles, must have worked in Hindi films for sometime!).

The author is sarcastic about anything and everything on the earth. I reread many phrases, sentences for Tibor’s play with words, witty analogies! No two stories feel alike though they are from the same author. Like a sorcerer’s magic baton Tibor’s pen has conjured up the variety in covering up things like - an unsuccessful businessman’s much needed break, a comedienne’s midnight vagrancy for the physical pleasure, a reporter’s journey to a Romanian graveyard and more.

Sense of humor and the variety in writing relieve works of Tibor Fischer from the danger of becoming cult. I am happy as long as he sticks to these two inherent qualities while making the bitter mockery of life.

One morning, at four, he had been woken up by a call. Getting to the phone, he had stumbled in the dark, cracking his head open on a doorframe. This call was from one of their contenders, staying in a hotel in Las Vegas.
‘Jim, man, I got a real problem…’
His stomach clenched. Rape? Murder? Drugs? Broken limb? Gambling clean-out? Assault?
‘… There’s no plug in my bathtub.’

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