This is not really a review, but rather a small thank-you note to David Davidar for having mopped through the many literary pieces over the years and squeezing all genius among them in one book.
Packed in this brilliant blue hardcover are thirty-nine short stories that span all imaginable genres, and the period of these stories range from the late 19th century to the present era. While you can find most of the stories in some earlier published volume, included here are a few works which have never been published in book form before. The anthology comprises many known and beloved Indian fictionists and their many styles of storytelling, and no two stories are similar in any which way, except that the reader is equally awe-struck at the end of each one of these.
I’ve followed many short stories recently, and the most engrossing ones were from authors like Jeffrey Archer, Hilary Mantel, R K Narayan, Munshi Premchand and Anton Chekhov. I understand my exposure to short story writers has been pretty limited to above authors, this ‘Clutch’ has opened doors on so many Indian writers, works of whom I wasn’t aware of – at least in the short-story front. Ruskin Bond’s, Munshi Premchand’s and R K Narayan’s were the only known shorts I had come across earlier, rest all thirty-six of them were nothing but revelations. I immensely enjoyed reading Khushwant Singh’s Portrait of a Lady where he talks about his grandmother – the maximum satisfaction you can derive as a reader in under five minutes.
Picking out a favorite among the titles in this book is a tedious task, for the genres and the styles are so diversified and different.There are many titles in the books that won’t take much of your time, and still guarantee you entrances to the most unimaginable worlds possible. I went about reading this book at a pace of one story a day (there were a couple of days when I covered two, but never more), stretching this beautiful phase for as long as I could.
For those digging literature, this is a treasure chest, and the contents listed within are worth more than gold. An extraordinary read, but moreover, this is your ticket to catch the worlds and experiences of an era bygone, and of a dream to come. Eternal indeed.