Not all of the infidelity depicted is in the context of marriage, although marriage figures prominently, as do bored housewives, dull husbands and nosy neighbors. Occasionally there are children, servants and a pet or two. The stories tell of everyday betrayals and some that are extraordinary. Storylines takes twists and turns and some just seem—twisted. All are edgy, dark, even depressing, and if there is humor, it’s fairly black as well.
Some of stories sound all too familiar, as if taken out of a friend’s diary or a Femina column, like Yours Faithfully, a monologue by an unattached woman who latches onto a male at a party so that her ex-, a mama’s boy whose mother rejected her because she was too dark, won’t know she still pines away for him. Along the same lines is An Indian Divorce which tells of a marriage in which the wife feels she is as good as divorced, just going through the motions and finding ways to cope.
Other tales are amusing (but not hilarious), like Pillow Talk in which the husband’s plan to outwit his boss backfires when said boss shows up for a tryst with the wife, or Hometruth which has a clever title and a Psycho-like feel; a rescuer trying to save a man from floods stumbles upon (literally) the grave of the man’s wife. In the house.
Some are predictable-the title of Papa’s Girl, pretty much says it all—a short letter from a daughter who’s father has been taken away; and some stories aren’t. By a Staff Reporter narrates a day in a safari park for a man and his grandson that ends up rather tragically and in Spider Lilies, a woman’s advice to her servant on how to avoid being abused goes awry.
Still other tales defy description. In The Anti-Lullaby we read of a wife’s infidelity, a hospital attendant’s affairs with cadavers and a happily-ever-after reunion, between one of the aforementioned cadavers (now revived) and her husband.
Thirty-six stories seem way too many for one collection, even if some are only two pages long. Perhaps Antony was in a rush to get them published, but it occurred to this reader that 2 volumes with 18 apiece may have gone over better, or perhaps….not publish some at all? It’s a difficult read in one sitting or even several at a time. One the other hand perhaps that is the best approach—read as many as possible all at once and then stop. I tried to it both ways. I read a few here and there over a few weeks and then, since a review deadline was looming, I finished off the rest in one weekend. That’s when I found the stories began to blur together, too many sad and bad marriages, too many miserable women, too many dead or dying people. It was like watching marriages and lives falling apart, sentence by sentence.
Book Description: Infidelity brings on all kinds of debate. For and against. The 36 stories in this volume delve beyond the conventional cheating between spouses into the larger betrayals that sully the soul. Keeping faith with one lover would sometimes mean sinning against another...The stories here include a family secret that comes to light too late, a young girl's ache for an imaginary lover, a married woman who couldn't be more divorced and a hooker who sometimes dances to please herself.
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