Sunday, September 23, 2012

Circle of Three by Rohit Gore and other unrelated thoughts

By Gaurav Parab

There is a test that I often do with music. I imagine that a CCR track on my iPOD was written by a friend. Then there are times I take it the other way. I imagine it is not my friends who are singing in my living room – but it is Van Morrison himself.

Does the music pass muster? Can it win over my heart once I strip it off the credits that follow it? Do I think it is a good song because someone famous sang it, or because it is simply good? Do I think it is an average song because someone unknown made it up? Or is it just average. Ah the mind, it takes flight does it not?

Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not. It is a strange world we live in, and my dog Djoko ( he hates it when I call him puppy) has just taken my office cell phone in his mouth. Come back here you stupid dog! Make sure you chew the damn thing to hell.

The point I am juggling with in my head is does a piece of work stand on its own. Irrespective of who created it. That is a problem we all deal with subconsciously, not only with music but also with books. We do, right?

Great established writers get away with juvenile pages simply because we as readers sometimes look for meaning when there is none. It is a great mind that spawned that sentence. It does not matter if it is an average sentence. The man once won a Booker. It has to be good.

Take it the other way. New writers with amazing skill and ability get easily classified as unproven, and for the lack of a better word – wannabes. It happens all the time. A Sunil Chetri goal is a goal. A Messi goal is a classic. Happens all the time.

The truth is there is no way I would have bought Circle of Three if the author was not a friend. Honestly, if I had come across it in a bookstore – I would not have considered it for as things stand – time is at premium and books take up a lot of time to read. Might as well hedge my bets with a Rushdie than with someone called Rohit Gore ( He does not even sound like an author).

And then there is the cover of Circle of Three. I don’t like it. It looks European and I hate it when Indian products are sold through advertisements shot in some Paris street using fair European models and kids with blue eyes. Its just one of the things in my mind, ok?

The five or six hours that I need to read a book are not easy to come by. It has to be worth my time.
But I know Rohit. He mentioned in passing that I should read this one. Sigh. So I order it through Flipkart. Gore it is. If I say his name real fast, it sounds like a Vidal. A real writer.


Six hours later, I put it down with a smile on my face. Not bad. Pause. It was actually pretty good! Heck, if someone had told me that someone famous had written this, that little part of my mind that looks for meaning from great minds would have smiled a lot more.

Ok. It is bloody good. Bloody Gooooooddd!!

When I read Focus Sam by Rohit, I said he is a writer for the future. Invest in him. Read his books. Let him write more. I also said Focus Sam is not the finished product. And now, I am so glad that I was right about something for a change.

With Circle of Three – Rohit Gore has truly arrived. It is a delightful book, where a very challenging premise is dealt with ease and authority. Sure, the plot loses pace occasionally- and the references to Arundhati Roy are one too many – but these are minor things that I point out only because I am told a review has to be balanced. And yes, sometimes it is difficult to imagine a thirteen year old travelling around Mumbai so easily.
I know I can't, how the heck does that kid do it?

But if I am unshackled by those limits of this being a review and saying negative things - I think I can stick my neck out and tell you that it is a book you should read. Go buy on Flipkart! You freaks went and spent a hundred gazzilion bucks on Ek Tha Tiger. This is money well spent. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I know Rohit. ( Makes Djoko like innocent face)

Let me explain why.

I imagine that the typical reader of this blog likes the things that I like. He or she is probably in his mid-twenties to mid-thirties, has a good soul (try resisting this pitch), can’t stand group hugs, and dislikes badly written rom coms as much as very well written perfect prose about a tree in a garden. He / she does not mind taking chances with the books they read, or the music they illegally download. They like rock, but Rafi rocks them to mind orgasms as well.

So, take it from me. It is a good book. Very different and very well written (No school boy English Essays with perfect words and well place commas). It is such a refreshing departure from what is available right now that it almost makes me wait for what Rohit will come out with next. It seriously does.

Circle of Three is about three people (Am I a rocket scientist or what) and how they help each other through difficult parts of their lives. A washed up writer in his sixties, a beautiful widow in his early thirties, and a young brat of thirteen. They don’t know each other, but through a series of coincidences – which I thought were very well sketched, they become reluctant friends.

The kid, Aryan, has an independent streak in him – and even if there are many occasions when you think he acts like a sixteen year old as opposed to his age – is the real star of the book. He with his irksome meddling glues the three together – and sets them off on a journey of battling their own personal demons.

The writer, Rana Rathod, is perhaps the most well sketched character – he is obsessed with checking out how many people like his facebook page. Seriously, Rohit nails this character well. I mean… what is it with writers asking everyone they know to LIKE THEIR FACEBOOK page? What is it?

Ria is beautiful, and even if resorting to clich├ęs at times – Rohit does a decent job of writing some really difficult scenes where she deals with memories of her dead husband and son.

Overall, it all comes together nicely and I am not going to give away the plot. It is nice, real and even if delightfully predictable – worth our time and memorable. When I reviewed Focus Sam, I said don’t dismiss this bloke. He has potential. Maybe a movie can be made out of Focus Sam (Which is not necessarily a compliment)

With a Circle of Three, I say start buying his books. For if you free your mind of that unknown name on the tacky cover like I did– at the end of it all – you might just realize that on its own – it is something of a minor classic. A minor classic, that's what it is.

Good boy Djoko. Die Blackberry, die.

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