Monday, 17 October 2016

Book Review (Sutapa Basu's Dangle)


Title: Dangle
Author: Sutapa Basu

Sutapa Basu's Dangle is the story of Ipshita - an independent, successful, and confident woman. She is a travel show host, traveling abroad alone. That is the first impression.

Things are usually not what they seem to be. I could never understand the whole 'first impression being the last one' belief anyway.

Soon after I found yourself questioning this perception.


There seems to be some fear in her. Is it some past experience that is haunting her, I wondered.

Another important person in this story is Adi, an understanding, dependable, almost permanent fixture in Ipshita's life.

The story of these two is not a usual one. There are many layers to the past of each of the characters of Dangle.
Ipshita's struggles and the reasons behind them form the core of this book.

The story of Dangle moves from Chicago to Delhi to Manipur to Singapore.

Dangle has details of all these places and since it is written from Ipshita's point of view, she compares each of these places to her hometown, Delhi.

Surprisingly (and credit to the author for it) that this doesn't feel verbose or boring.

I especially enjoyed reading about Manipur - its' beauty, its' political instability, and the way the author analyses the two.


"Life hung on such a delicate thread! One yank and everything could go up in smoke; the identity of the victims be damned! This is the real dangle!"


Ipshita goes through life evaluating it. Seeing contradictions and changes. Seeing 'dangles'. 
Too many? Maybe. But I didn't mind them. Sensitivity (or over-sensitivity) does that to a person, I guess.

The thing is that pretty soon I guessed what was actually going on. Not that it mattered because there is much more to the story, but I would have preferred if I hadn't known. My bad, though... I just knew.

Ipshita's character is not one I can relate to. The story of Dangle is interesting, but as I said, I guessed part of what was going on.

For me, it is the writing that kept me hooked from the first sentence to the last. 
Every thought, every experience, every emotion is finely expressed by Sutapa Basu.


The intensity of Sutapa Basu's writing is such that you feel you live in the characters' head.

Another highlight in this book is the details of the life in the Army. The little details of both the comforts and the risk that an Army man experiences are woven into the story.

The title Dangle gets many interpretations through the philosophical thoughts of Ipshita.

"Life is always a dangle! Between now or never; between this and that; between being and not being; Life is how you see it, do it, take it."


"Life is a dangle... Yes, in a limbo between kindness and heartlessness..."

I did feel that the dangle angle was mentioned a little too often. But the premise behind the title is very good and the author usually creates a situation where the 'dangle' makes you ponder.

"She was alone but not lonely. That was the dangle!"

"Serenity can be a treacherous dangle!"


"...she balanced anger, bitterness and revenge against filial love and loyalty."

There is a lingering darkness, a mystery in Dangle that keeps you hooked.

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The italicized text in quotation marks are quotes from the book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


         

Blurb

Stunning, svelte, smart Ipshita is a globetrotter. She treks across the world to gather bytes for the travel chats she designs and hosts for TV channels. Despite being a self assured and sophisticated entrepreneur, Ipshita is haunted by a nameless fear. Social interaction with men unleashes psychotic turmoil inside her, making her wary of male attention. Yet, the cold and aloof Ips is inexorably drawn to the three men she meets at different points in her journey. 

Her arousal to the overtures of these men catches her unawares. Well-built defenses break as her dormant sexuality goes into overdrive until she discovers the horrifying truth about them…and herself. 

Life puzzles. Secrets tumble out. Will she be able to reclaim her life or let it dangle?


Read an excerpt from Dangle
  The lilt of a flute fills half shadows. Emerald green silk unfurls to lavender hills. Mist gives way to a golden spectacle. Thickly embroidered into flowing waters are hundreds of lotuses. Sunlight dazzles on ruby, sapphire, turquoise, and amethyst that reluctantly open their layers to reveal honeyed hearts. The humming of multitudes of bees reverberates in the room. Intoxicated by the sun-drenched perfume of blossoms, they weave in and out of the pattern. Sheer colours daze the senses. Drumbeats intrude softly, only to rise to a crescendo.
Another shape enters the frame. Hazy at first, the outlines darken gradually. It is an empty square etched in bold strokes holding within it diagonally a metallic piece curved to the bent of an index finger. The lens zoom out.  The shape takes definition. It is  the trigger of a snub-nosed AK-47. The drums fall silent.
Everybody holds their breath. There is a thud and the face of Beauty is blotted with a gun stamped on it. There is a collective gasp. The screen stills. Strobes pick out a small crowd, including cameras on cantilever arms. Each person in the room is mesmerized…nobody can look away.

Giving a couple of seconds for the impact to sink in, the focus beams on Ipshita, the host. She begins the chat. Microphones pick up frequencies of her voice, enhancing its soft huskiness. Statistics and logistics start appearing on two screens flanking the bigger screen on which images are projected. She proceeds as visions of  paddy fields, streets of Imphal, slim girls in phaneks with long raven-black hair flying, fishermen casting bait, rowing boats, sitting still as rocks for fish to bite fill the screen behind her. She goes on to the fascinating scenes of Loktak, the floating islands, the fisherman’s hut and through her words she builds up a metaphor. It is of Manipur, a dainty nymph struggling to escape rape by Mars, the god of war. She is crushed, yet nothing erodes her indomitable spirit. 


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About the Author



An author, poet and publishing consultant, Sutapa Basu also dabbles in art and trains trainers and is a compulsive bookworm. During a thirty-year old professional career as teacher, editor, and publisher, she travelled the Indian subcontinent, Nepal and Bhutan. She has visited UK, USA, Dubai and Singapore while working with Oxford University Press, India and Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, South Asia until 2013 when she decided to start writing seriously. 

Sutapa is an Honours scholar from Tagore’s Visva-Bharti University, Santiniketan and holds a teaching as well as a masters degree in English Literature. 

As a publisher, Sutapa has developed and published around 400 books. Recently, her short story was awarded the First Prize in the Times of India’s nation-wide WriteIndia Contest, under author, Amish Tripathi. 


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