Monday, July 18, 2016

Book Review – The Arithmatic of Breasts and Other Stories

Photo credit HERE
Author Rochelle Potkar, frequently comes up in Social Media, book and poetry readings, across India, these days. I chanced upon her reading her poem, from her latest collection of poems, Four Degrees of Separation, which in turn led me to her book, The Arithmatic of Breasts and Other Stories. There had to be a connection between the two, I thought to myself; some relation perhaps? Curiosity led me to download TheArithmatic of Breasts and Other Stories. 

Granted, breasts are an obsession with both women and men alike, the awesome cover design was an instant pull. Soft, suggestive, seductive, pictures on book covers draw me like iron filings to a magnet.

So is love, sex and relationships, our obsession as adults, which we constantly engage in. The carefully designed cover, hides within a treasure of stories, only seven and a half in number, easy to read, but deeply thought provoking collection, which indulge, question, present all these human experiences, in a profound way. These stories are about hope, desire, dreams, marriage, need and longing, insecurities, in the framework of society at large.

I found the book riveting, bold and powerful. Some stories brought tears to my eye, and some made me laugh out loud. And some brought out the rebel in me – why must a woman ‘alter’ her looks and her face, to fit the face of her lover’s imagination? Why can’t he accept her, as she is? And even if, for his love, a lady, does swallow her self-esteem to alter her looks, will she find love? Or will she again become the face of ‘someone’ else, in the eyes of her lover? Is marriage so important, that the protagonist of Dr Love must become someone else? And what will happen thereafter?

If all there is to love, is a bed of myriad explorations in sexual activity, will a husband, lose interest in his wife, if stricken by cancer, she loses one breast? What will become of that relationship, which is primarily driven by the hunger of the body?

And what are the quirky questions that ail a man’s mind, in the hilarious, but brilliant, Seven & A Half very short stories?

No, this is not a book, you can read and forget. The flourish with which Rochelle Potkar writes, pushes the boundaries of middle class thinking and hyper hypocrisy. It makes you sit up and think, quite like what Rituparno Ghosh did in his films. With a persistent pen, she reveals what goes on under cover, of what we may call trusted relationships, where, both people are at different tangents, exploring the darkest areas of their schizophrenic desires. 

So then, is the collection of short stories, The Arithmatic of Breasts and Other Stories, a complex reading experience? No! Not at all! It is an easy read, where you don’t have to use your Dictionary even once. But, Rochelle Potkar, very calmly, provokes you to think – Is love the driving force finally in a relationship, or is it sex? Is it love we seek or is it sex? What does a human want really deeply - is it love or is it only an unending quest to find it?

The The Arithmatic of Breasts and Other Stories, is addictive. You can’t have enough of it, I can promise you!

Which is precisely why, I am moving on to Rochelle Potkar’s next.

About the Author:

Rochelle Potkar is a fiction writer and poet.

Her stories have appeared in Far Enough East, Sein und Werden, The Medulla Review, The Nassau Review, Women Writers, Writer’s Hub, Bewildering Stories, Cantaraville, Muse India, Marijuana Diaries, The Bangalore Review, Revenge Ink, Nivasini, Unisun, Triangulation, Lame Goat Publications, Annapurna magazine, Rollick Magazine.

Her poems have appeared in The Brown Boat, The Finger Magazine, Haibun Today, The Bamboo Hut, A Hundred Gourds, Poems for the Road podcast (UK), Zo 2014 Poetry exposé, Bigbridge, Poetry India, bottle rocket, The Dhauli Review, The Freshwater Review.
CLICK HERE to get to know more about her and her work from her Website.