- Paperback: 116 pages
- Publisher: 20Notebooks Press; First edition (20 May 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9351749002
- ISBN-13: 978-9351749004
- Package Dimensions: 20.2 x 12.8 x 1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
#2,71,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #405 in Algebra & Trigonometry
The Arithmetic of Breasts and Other Stories Paperback – 20 May 2015
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About the Author
Rochelle Potkar is a fiction writer and poet. Her works have appeared in several Indian and international publications. Her first book of short stories, 'The Arithmetic of breasts and other stories' was shortlisted for The Digital Book of the Year Award 2014, by Publishing Next. Her next book, Dreams of Déjà vu is a speculative novel.
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In 'A Room With A Sea-View', Rochelle portrays the bohemian nature of love. People here are like tourist spots where love comes and goes as per its wish leaving behind altered individuals.
Even though the story 'Sky Park' takes place in minds of three teenagers, there's nothing juvenile about it. It plays like a loop of mirrors with thoughts running in three parallel minds to turn into an event that only one amongst them understands the gravity of. And the one who understands is left the most broken amongst the three. It's a story that every reader in some way or the other may be able to find their reflections in.
I found Dr. Love to be the weakest story in this collection, however even that one is written with a flair that keeps you engaged throughout. The problem with this story is that it's too predictable. What makes it engaging is the way Rochelle deconstructs a relationship and constructs another, while also efficaciously portraying the emotional turmoil its protagonist goes through.
In 'The Scent Of A Conscience', Rochelle builds up two separate stories that tease each other with possibilities. The protagonists here want one thing and dream of something else and even their moments of realization are filled with a sense of dilemma. These characters are so complex and flawed as humans that they start feeling real in the reader's mind.
When I think of the story ''A Place They Call Scary', the memory of temple floor and plantain leaves as mats flash in my mind. That's the power of environment creation, which in this story is impeccable and the psyche of the protagonist keeps trickling out to the reader throughout the narrative. I specially loved the way this story ends, leaving the reader restless.
'Story 1/2: Our Lovers', ends in a reflection in which the mirror image shakes the protagonist out of her illusions and enables her to appreciate her own life. There's something about the abruptness though that leaves the reader yearning for more.
'Story 1/2: The Troll On Page 16' comes across as a series of pranks that dig into fantasies involving people in day to day life of the protagonist.
'What Men Want' goes on to observe the purely martian vision of female sexuality and Rochelle nails the shallowness as well as the stifflingly chauvinist nature of 'bro-talk' that unrolls once a few drinks enter
Almost all of these stories except for 'Dr. Love' achieve what novels aim to achieve - A lasting, lingering effect... Sexuality finds a comfortable space in Rochelle Potkar's stories. All the stories in this collection revolve around intimacy and in some cases around body parts, but with utmost respect for those elements rather than as tools to turn it into a racy book. That's what makes 'The Arithmetic Of Breasts' a cup of contentment in literary sense.
Granted, breasts are an obsession with both women and men alike, the awesome cover design was an instant pull. Soft, suggestive, seductive, pictures on book covers draw me like iron filings to a magnet.
So is love, sex and relationships, our obsession as adults, which we constantly engage in. The carefully designed cover, hides within a treasure of stories, only seven and a half in number, easy to read, but deeply thought provoking collection, which indulge, question, present all these human experiences, in a profound way. These stories are about hope, desire, dreams, marriage, need and longing, insecurities, in the framework of society at large.
I found the book riveting, bold and powerful. Some stories brought tears to my eye, and some made me laugh out loud. And some brought out the rebel in me – why must a woman ‘alter’ her looks and her face, to fit the face of her lover’s imagination? Why can’t he accept her, as she is? And even if, for his love, a lady, does swallow her self-esteem to alter her looks, will she find love? Or will she again become the face of ‘someone’ else, in the eyes of her lover? Is marriage so important, that the protagonist of Dr Love must become someone else? And what will happen thereafter?
If all there is to love, is a bed of myriad explorations in sexual activity, will a husband, lose interest in his wife, if stricken by cancer, she loses one breast? What will become of that relationship, which is primarily driven by the hunger of the body?
And what are the quirky questions that ail a man’s mind, in the hilarious, but brilliant, Seven & A Half very short stories?
No, this is not a book, you can read and forget. The flourish with which Rochelle Potkar writes, pushes the boundaries of middle class thinking and hyper - hypocrisy. It makes you sit up and think, quite like what Rituparno Ghosh did in his films. With a persistent pen, she reveals what goes on under cover, of what we may call trusted relationships, where, both people are at different tangents, exploring the darkest areas of their schizophrenic desires.
So then, is the collection of short stories, The Arithmatic of Breasts and Other Stories, a complex reading experience? No! Not at all! It is an easy read, where you don’t have to use your Dictionary even once. But, Rochelle Potkar, very calmly, provokes you to think – Is love the driving force finally in a relationship, or is it sex? Is it love we seek or is it sex? What does a human want really deeply - is it love or is it only an unending quest to find it?
The The Arithmatic of Breasts and Other Stories, is addictive. You can’t have enough of it, I can promise you!
Which is precisely why, I am moving on to Rochelle Potkar’s next.
The stories in this anthology have simple plotlines with characters you meet or hear about in your everyday life. The magic happens in the language. The author plays with prose, juggles verbs and hypnotizes you. If you are looking for a quick thriller, this book is not for you. You cannot pop in these stories like the pani puris at the roadside shop. You need to relish them slowly like a gourmet dish ordered in a five star hotel. My only regret was the serving was as tiny as those served in these hotels. Seven stories is too little! In all probability, this is my greed speaking. Rochelle, I want more!
Arithmetic of Breasts is a must-read for anyone who loves well-written short stories.
The stories themselves are mesmerizing. The Indian flavour is never lost, never mind the names and the settings - and that is refreshing.
Yet, the stories themselves are universal. It is impossible not to relate to the characters or the situations they find themselves in. This is a book you keep with your secret stash of stuff you don't want anyone to find out - and which you know you are going to keep forever.