Book: Paperback Dreams
Author: Rahul Saini
Number of pages: 250
Price: Rs. 140
Paperback Dreams by Rahul Saini is based on an interesting premise. An intriguing title, a contemporary setting and plenty of emotion. The story traces the lives of three protagonists: Jeet Obiroi, author of a book, published by unfair means, dreams of hot women chasing him; Rohit Sachdev, who is in search of his next book and convinced that his publisher is cheating him of his royalties; Karun Mukharjee, who wants to write a novel to woo his lady love and doesn’t mind playing dirty.
Bringing all three of them together is their creepy, unscrupulous publisher, DK Dé of Dash Publishers.
Largely set in contemporary Delhi, Paperback Dreams traces the dreams of so many aspiring writers of our generation. The ones who want it for fame, the money, the recognition, the adulation; the reasons re are numerous. Jeet and Rohit are contemporaries while Karun is an aspiring contemporary. All three take turns to narrate their lives, in first-person accounts, akin to diary entries.
Jeet, having published his first book, is in search of his next. He is also bogged down by a dirty secret involving the former. But that doesn’t stop him from lusting after hot women. Rohit is angst-ridden, unsure of where he is headed in his writing. And the knowledge that his publisher could be cheating him weighs him down considerably. Karun, the youngest of the lot, is determined to become a published writer. And if that means befriending authors to lie to them, cooking up negative reviews online, bad-mouthing their publisher, sending hate mail, so be it. He is ready for all of that and perhaps more. I was shocked, but more disgusted than shocked.
There is little back story to any of the characters, apart from Rohit who you will learn has taken up a teaching assignment to pay the bills. So in a sense, you see more of him as teacher than an author. But he is unconvincing even as a teacher. However, my favorite lines in the book are an idea that he touches upon often: “Being a faculty comes with a kind of magic attached to it.” (page 51) The sentence construction makes me cringe but I understand what Saini is getting at. It is a theme he returns to, a few chapters later. He illustrates how a teacher can help/influence a student beautifully, albeit in a slightly unconvincing scenario.
I was quite disappointed with the language, word choice and sentence construction in the book. It made me want to hit the writer on a couple of occasions. Some of the chapters are littered with too many mundane details, redundancies and minutiae, almost like an attempt to increase the word count.
Paperback Dreams is a light and entertaining take on the contemporary publishing industry, if you can look past the weak plot and bad writing. It’s probably the kind you can read on your commute to work and back.
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