first thing I did after finishing ‘Urban shots’ by Gray Oak was to order their next anthology ‘Down the Road’. It is a collection of school/college centric stories designed to evoke déjà vu in the youngsters and nostalgia in the not so young. (I prefer calling myself young at heart, slightly older in other places, but that is beside the point)
The book is packaged cleverly and has been promoted smartly. But is it as good as Urban Shots. Not to me at least( but it is almost there). The stories vary in content and quality. Some of them are extremely good. Sorroricide by Paritosh Uttam ( I am fast turning into a fan, Paritosh) unleashes powerful and moving emotions; The music room by Tra Trivedi packs a punch; Dimples and cute smiles ( Ranjani Iyer), Well placed ( Ahmed Faiyaz) and the The worm that turned ( Malathi Jaikumar) invoke humor without even trying too hard; Just a moment (Nikhil Rajagopalan) ,Learning and unlearning ( Rohini Kejarival) and Strangers in strange places( Abhijit Bhaduri) succeed in unlocking a strong sense of nostalgia; while Loves me, loves me not ( Vibhi Batra) is plain chilling. The rest of the stories run the entire gamut from good to indifferent/juvenile, but there is enough punch to keep the reader occupied.The pick of the authors? Kunal Dhabalia for An accidental start. But I don't understand why was Between friends ( Paritosh Uttam) repeated. It was featured in Urban Shots just a few months back.
I think Gray Oak is doing a yeoman’s service to the cause of English writing in India by leading a revival of the short story and this book is recommended for all lovers of short stories. My rating 3/5.