15 June 2009

The Loudest Firecracker by Arun Krishnan

More style than substance

Here’s a book that fails to live up to its early promise.
I was impressed with Arun Krishnan’s craft, his relaxed style of writing and the premise on which his story begins. A young boy’s observations of his world, which has recently become a grim place because his family moved away from a glamorous lifestyle, are well told and captivating. This world soon becomes far grimmer. Unfortunately, at this point, which should have been the build-up to a middle and end of the same high quality, the book begins to fade out.
One of the book’s highlights is its strong commonsense message of the utter waste and pointlessness of communal violence and the vested interests of those who whip it up. Another is the charming stories the boy’s mother and then grandmother tell him. These could have been developed, even leading to the same ideas, themes and conclusion the author has chosen. Instead, however, they taper off and several pages of unrelated events are slid in, sitting incongruously with the earlier and far superior section.
This could have been a far more successful and enduring book – Arun Krishnan certainly has the talent, and I hope he will have the patience to take more time and trouble with his next one.

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