aleph book co, book blogger, book review, book reviews, independant publisher, must read books 2017, mybookjacket, short story collections, tejaswini apte rahm, these circuses that sweep through the landscape
Let’s take a moment to admire that gorgeous cover, shall we!
Done. Now to the review.
These circuses that sweep through the landscape is the first book by author Tejaswini Apte-Rahm. She has contributed to another book but I’m not too sure about that. For a debut collection this was rather impressive with each story standing out from the other and none of them feeling like twins. Believe it or not this is rather rare in short story collections so this is probably going to be one of my favourite books of 2017.
There are ten stories in all and I’ll write a short little review for each of them. It may just be a line because the story itself is very short and who wants a review to be longer than the book right?
Homo Coleoptera : This about a beetle collector gets a little too obsessed with something else and it doesn’t end well. I found the inspiration to be rather obvious, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of this story. I don’t want to say where the inspiration is else you’ll know the ending and it’ll kill the story for you but I enjoyed this one quite a bit.
Thank God For Startrek : This wasn’t as impressive though it was very relatable for me. An enjoyable one about loneliness and feeling alone, but I don’t think it’s the best in her collection. I’ll probably forget this in a few days.
The Mall : Damn! Black Mirror minus the explicit content meets Ray Bradbury in this one. Can’t think of a bigger compliment to give her. I’m currently reading The Illustrated Man and this story felt like it wouldn’t be out of place there except for the Indian names. It is rather long but unlike the other long ones which felt like they should have ended sooner, this one felt just right. One of my favourites.
The Girl Who Loved Dean Martin : This went the same way as the Startrek one. It wasn’t all that enjoyable. But she did surprise me with the ending so there’s that. I love her writing style but her stories about relationships aren’t that memorable or unique to me.
Cotton : Hello Neil Gaiman! Wait, no, this isn’t Neil Gaiman. Well, coulda fooled me! This one is quirky and surprising with all the eerie aspects you’d expect in Coraline or something. I really enjoyed it and if you’re at a bookstore I’d advice you to pick up this book and read this short story. You won’t leave the store without buying the book.
The House On The Hill : The author does a very good job of writing from the pov of someone who is ignorant of certain things in a different world. I enjoyed the perspective but the story itself wasn’t all that remarkable. I will still say the story is a lovely one, written beautifully with a feeling on tension throughout, but just not as great, especially since you’re reading it after cotton.
Drinks At 7 : This was another favourite of mine and sort of is the best one I’ve read in this collection if you’re talking relationship themed ones. The pregnant pauses and the feeling of things about to boil over is constantly there and it is just very well done.
Sandalwood : Yet another great one. This one though is sad and has a feeling of melancholy throughout. The main character’s world has been turned upside down and while you aren’t really feeling the emotions with the character you feel a bit of empathy is a pathetic way.
Mili : Now this is the least impressive story of the whole lot. I’m not sure why this was included in such a carefully planned collection because it feels rather common. This is just like any other “first love” or “the one that got away” stories you will see in any collection and this, imho, took away from the brilliance of an otherwise perfect coellction.
These Circuses That Sweep through The Landscape : The title story is usually considered to be the best and I agree and disagree. The ending made this one of the best but the rest of it was a little tedious. Worth it at the end though because you’re left wondering “Damn, that’s brilliant” but this wasn’t one of my favourites in the collection.
The author seems to have so many wonderful influences in her work that I’m really eager to read anything else she puts out. Particularly if it is a short story collection because the shorter ones were the better ones in this book. She seems to have mastered the art of tension and every single story her is like watching a slow motion video of an overfilled water balloon get popped with a nice sharp and shiny needle. With the stories having a moment of Scifi, a moment of magical realism and moments that are atmospheric, there is something for everyone here. I’d definitely recommend. 4/5 stars.
A fanatical collector of beetles finds out too late where his passion has led him. A woman out on a shopping spree in a glitzy mall finds she can’t go home again. A servant girl experiences a cruel loss of innocence when she eats something that wasn’t meant for her. In the sweltering heat of Bombay, a schoolgirl finds the ground slipping beneath her feet except when she’s watching Star Trek. Four friends meet for drinks one evening, only to find that their friendship is not what it seems. And, in the extraordinary title story, a student who has worshipped his teacher for decades comes to a terrible realization about him. Meanwhile, his old mentor is planning a cunning legacy of his own
*I was very kindly given a copy in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are my own.