Book Review : Love, Peace & Happiness + Author Talk


Why This Book:
Some days back, I got mail from Author Rituraj Verma regarding his debut novel “Love, Peace & Happiness” with Excerpts. I loved excerpts and immediately got opportunity to review “Love, Peace & Happiness”. I read this book twice to understand some stories. After second time reading, I feel this book charismatic.

Name: Love, Peace & Happiness : What more can you want?
Author: Rituraj Verma
Genre: Fiction – Short Stories
Language: English
Pages: 223 (Paperback)
Awards:
Movies:
Buy: Flipkart, Amazon
My Rating:

Started: 11th September, 2012
Completed: 21st September 2012
Total Reading Hour: 20-22 Hrs


Cover: I like book cover of the book because of 3 symbols in different color which portray Love, Peace and Happiness respectively.


Charismatic.. Thought Provoking..

Short stories are always hard to write because author does not get much space for character development. Reader always have more expectations from short stories and little loop-hole can lead to not-so-interesting short stories. I have read so many short stories so far including so much popular The Japanese Wife by Kunal Basu and The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami. Sometimes, readers find some short stories astonishing instead of complete book.

“Love, Peace & Happiness” is roll of 9 short stories – stories about people like us. Each story evolves around middle class character- who is in difficult circumstances which is beyond their control.

I assumed that each story will end up either with “Love” or “Peace” or “Happiness” at the time of picking the book, but is that possible in reality? I think, answer is big “NO” and I felt happy when I completed first story “A high, like Heaven“. “A high, like Heaven” – story of young married couple – ends with dark shade. I didn’t find “Love”, “Peace” or “Happiness” in first story, when I read it first time. But When I re-read it second time, I like deep meaning of happiness. I loved its end which boost up my interest in book.

Second story “The emotional cripple” is really fascinating which showcasing difference between Money and Happiness through emotional engagement between IITian Rakesh and Doctor Payal.  If you are giving more importance to money over happiness then this story is definitely for you.

For any girl, support of her partner is very important and specifically when she choose his partner over her parent and compromised on her aspiration for her beloved partner.  But what if partner breaks her trust? “The intimacy of space” is story about such girl Shweta and her love Hanif and their trust on each other when they are in reality show with other 5 couples.

People say, India is growing country but at root level, there are lots of poor class people struggling for their basic needs. Education is only way to step out from poverty, Right? Author amazingly covered this root level issue with emotion, love and compromise in “The practitioner of austerity”. After “The emotional cripple”, I loved “The practitioner of austerity” most. Not only storyline is good but author took some space to described characters and did amazing job.

Have you feel alone in life anytime? Have you felt that you are not that much important in your loved one’s life and have you done anything abrupt thing for which you regret later? ”The victim of many loves” evolves around such scenario. When I have completed reading this story, I doubted that whether Hanif – male character in “The victim of many loves” is same male character in “The intimacy of space” or not and hence I re-read both stories but didn’t find any connection until I read “The facebook stalker”. After reading “The facebook stalker”, somehow I able to link-up all 3 stories. All 3 stories are surrounded by Hanif and his life with Shweta to Anamika to Rasheeda. You may find Rasheeda very interesting because of her ability to gain information about person through means. I wish, author will write one more novel on beautifully crafted “Hanif” character.

“The soul mate theorist” does not attract me that much except its female character – Paromita.

Love and sex are different altogether. Every person in this world has its own meaning or definition. When you talk about soul-mate, it starts new equation with love and sex. Some thinks both are different; some thinks both are side of coin, some thinks both cannot stand together. “The night of the affair” is based on love, sex and soul-mate. I didn’t like ending of this story because of its plain-simple ending but when I read last story “The pursuit of perfection”, I profoundly said “Charismatic”.

“The pursuit of perfection” is the story which fills all loop holes and put most of the stories in single thread. When you read this story, you start synchronizing all short stories, their events, flips pages back and forth, and then you smile and will say, “Ohh, that was the start and that was the end.. Amazing” 🙂 .

Good thing about this book is, Author come up with alternate end. If you don’t like the way the stories end there, visit website for alternate ending. Though, I love ending mentioned in book and feel those are more promising than alternate ending.

Even you can write ending by your own and if your ending is selected, see it in the next print run with your name in acknowledgement. You can find alternate endings here and rules for writing alternate ending here.

Some Good lines from book:

  • You’re very polite and refined. It’s a sign of quality education
  • Knowledge something is the same as loving it. It’s the same thing really.
  • Face yourself, to change your world
  • Happiness is a high, like heaven
  • Why would you apologize if you don’t mean? Don’t go on doing things because people say you to; do them the way you feel like.
  • Marriages can be suffocating. Relationships are far important than marriages. We need to learn to communicate our love for each other for who we are
  • In battle, it does not hurt to lie and cheat a little.
  • I don’t like people who like to play god.
  • ..education was the only way out of poverty..
  • If I don’t care for myself, pretty soon I won’t have a life.
  • Love, peace, happiness – it’s all a state of mind.
  • Back then, people never used word ‘marriage’ along with the word ‘love’ unless it was in hyphenated form – ‘love-marriage’ like there was a stigma attached to the word ‘love’.

Some of the above stories are from female point of view which put “Love, Peace and Happiness” at some level high. This is definitely different book compare to current era’s Indian romantic novel. I am giving it to 3 out of 5 because I feel, author could have written better than this. I am recommending this book. Buy it and read it.


Author Talk : Q & A with Rituraj Verma

[Me]: What motivated you to write this book?
[Rituraj Verma]: Real people are the inspiration, most of them striving to lead more fulfilling lives in angst filled situations. I always wanted to write a book that connected on a different plane with the readers, something that challenged their thinking at a subconscious level and stayed with them for a long time.

So it was a chance that my colleague egged me on to write a book and I took on a challenge to write it in 90 days. I actually wrote the first draft in about 120 days. Alternate endings came only after I started talking about differentiation with the publisher.

 [Me]: What is your writing method? How long do you write in a single session?
[Rituraj Verma]: I try to write a minimum of 500 words a day. I keep notes about specific behaviors and ideas that I observe in people and write them into little sentences on my mobile. Later I try and use the material in whatever way I can in the stories.

I also use a technique called meditation writing which allows me to immerse myself in the character I am writing about. At places you can see the effect of this in the text when the reader goes ‘hmm… good observation’ and so that sentence penetrates deeper into the subconscious mind and leaves an impression.

[Me]: How much research did you have to conduct to write these stories?
[Rituraj Verma]: Quite a bit of the work uses Internet sources heavily so yes, the largest contributor to these stories has been the net. Typically, about half the time in writing goes into exploring the concept on the net. For instance, the concept of co-dependency, where a co-dependent person is actually mistaking a rather harmful behavior pattern for love, had to be researched extensively for its symptoms and cures.

Also since most of the characters are inspired by real life people, I spent time studying how they actually behaved in the situations that we find the characters in. It’s pretty damn close, I might say to what really did happen to these people.

[Me]: Why did you write short stories instead of single story novel?
[Rituraj Verma]: The book uses a subtle technique called alternate endings to bring a realization in the readers mind that all of us want the same things – Love, Peace and Happiness and that contentedness is the main aim of our lives. The reader gets immersed in the character and resonates well with the characters choices – the story ends abruptly – and the reader has to make a choice on the alternate endings. The structure I had in mind was more suited to short stories than a single story novel, although I do try to connect all the characters in the last story, like in a novel.

[Me]: Where did you find your inspiration for characters?
[Rituraj Verma]: Friends, family, acquaintances, all of us know the stories around us. In fact, we are surrounded by the stories. So there is ample material available in every person’s life for plenty of stories.

My inspiration also comes from people I know. Fifty percent of what happens in the stories is real. The other fifty percent is actually happier in the stories than in real life and so had to be made up.

[Me]: Which character was the most difficult to write and which is favorite of you?
[Rituraj Verma]: I found the most difficult character to be the last character- Harish Saxena. It is a character based on myself. When you are writing about other people, it is easy to insulate yourself from their souls and you are somewhat biased in your efforts. However, when you are writing in the first person, you feel naked, and there is nothing that you can say about yourself that wont be considered to be transparently truthful, unless you put a little bit of your soul into the character. It was really hard to do Harish Saxena and I struggled with him for a month and finally decided to take a week off to meditate and finish the story and the book.

My favourite character is a clairvoyant healer by the name of Rasheeda, and I can see traces of the inspiration behind this character in the real life healer I know. Its actually quite mind blowing when you meet this person, and a little bit of that effect comes out in the book.

[Me]:Why alternate ending story? What was thought behind it?
[Rituraj Verma]: In a world of increased choices, how one selects the choice determines how wise one has become. Millions of books are written on self-help, yet they don’t seem to work. I wanted to come up with a method by which a subtle realization comes to the readers via their subconscious minds, so that they can introspect and choose wisely between sometimes conflicting emotions like love and greed, love and peace, etc.

A second reason was that most of the stories are basically episodes and that means that their lives are not over, so there is no grand finale as such. The characters may reappear in later books too, because things keep happening to them and they keep making choices, which readers can follow or change as per their liking.

A third reason is that there are many layers to each story, and each layer can have a different ending, which means alternate endings are needed. I have covered sad, happy and twist endings in the print and on the website, but even then, more endings are possible.

[Me]: What can readers expect to find in “Love, Peace and Happiness”?
[Rituraj Verma]: They can expect to find stories about people they can identify with, or if not completely identify, they may know people similar to these characters. The stories will penetrate their minds and stay with them for a long time and it will seem like some universality has been achieved with the way the story endings are selected by the readers.

[Me]: What is the one thing that you want to leave readers of “Love, Peave & Happiness” pondering over?
[Rituraj Verma]: If there is one message in the book it is this – Be Contented – summarized in the title- What more can you want? There is no point in being super aggressive in this highly success oriented world. Why should we forget our values and fall for the vulgar, the seductive and create nothing but restlessness of unfulfilled desires in our minds?

[Me]:Some stories are from female point of view. Is it ever a challenge to write from the female point of view?
[Rituraj Verma]: Yes, it is a challenge because women are so much more emotional than men. I find myself observing their behavior more closely and wondering about what makes them tick. Women are more complex than men, but thankfully, the way of writing I have developed involves letting the readers interpret motivations for themselves and I just give them little snippets or observations and leave it at that.

[Me]:What’s next in your writing pipeline?
[Rituraj Verma]: I am currently debating on whether the LPH concept should be made into a series with the stories being crowd sourced or whether the next book should be a novel.

[Me]:How can readers find you on the Internet?
[Rituraj Verma]: I can be reached at riturajverma2005@gmail.com or author@riturajverma.com. I can also be reached via my fanpage www.facebook.com/BookLPH and my personal profile at www.facebook.com/rituraj.verma


About Author: Official Site

Source [http://www.riturajverma.com/]: Rituraj Verma, born 28th June, 1967, is currently working as a freelance retail real estate consultant. He grew up in Delhi and Mumbai and cleared the IIT-JEE in 1984, in which year, he was also selected as a Special Class Railway Apprentice by the Indian Railways. He was the editor of his college magazine, SAM, when he first started writing the book’s first story ‘A High Like Heaven’ almost twenty three years ago.

He later obtained his MBA from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA and worked with Philip Morris USA for five years before returning to India to start his entrepreneurial retail venture, Naya Yug Bazar which he ran for seven years. In 2006, he joined Future group as the head of Consumer Insights, a job which led him to travel the length and breadth of India to ascertain the changing nature of aspirations and expectations of Indian consumers.

He then set up the Retail Agency and Transaction Advisory Services for Knight Frank India, a leading international property consultant. He has recently started out on his own as a real estate consultant. His wife Smriti works for the Indian Railways and he has a son Arjun, aged 17, and a daughter Aradhana, aged 15.


Enjoy Reading !!!

Advertisements
This entry was posted in book review, Fiction, novel review, Short Story, Story and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Book Review : Love, Peace & Happiness + Author Talk

  1. I’m amazed at how extremely thorough your reviews are. This looks like an interesting book, too.

    • shahujvaln says:

      Thanks James for nice words and glad to know that you like my review… Indeed, “Love, Peace & Happiness” is an interesting book.

  2. Pingback: My B-Day « Anthony Richer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s