Friday, October 4, 2013

A Cool, Dark Place by Supriya Dravid - Book Review

"All these words turned out to be wretched custodians of memory. They cut me to the core and taught me that absences have a presence too."
Don, the Mother, Gravy, Zephyr, Sancho, Robert, the Banker, et al. The characters in this book are as eccentric as they come. Some, specially Don. Scratch that, just Don. Larger than life. Almost like making a peg of whiskey that is too much for the poor glass to handle. The glass is not half-empty or half-full in this case, but overfull.

After a turn of events, Zephyr comes across these poignant cobwebs in her family history that trap her. And guess who the liquor-loving Spiderman is? As the pages turn, new information is revealed to Z and from then on, there is a downward spiral. If there can be further downward movement when one is already down.

She gets to know about her wild grandmother, her effervescent mother, and the other puppets in Don, her grandfather's, kingdom. How he pulls the strings, how he jokes, and how he plays with their memories is A Cool, Dark Place.

Somewhere one doesn't need to go, but is already present, in the recesses of their minds.

The language used in the book is beautiful. There are some phrases that are too much to handle, but I guess there are moments in life that make you think of ghastly atrocities too. Language is just an outreach. I would definitely recommend this book to people I know who'd appreciate the dark poetry that this book is.

It's like drinking a fine, yet eccentric single malt whiskey.
“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but-mainly-to ourselves.” - Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending (My review here.)
A Cool, Dark Place has these strong flavours that remind me of another story. I know the exact story that the book reminds me of, but putting it as "another story" serves as a temporary respite.
A Cool, Dark Place is that intensely flavoured dish that you like from your favourite eating place that one day has been slightly overdone. All the flavours have been magnified such that individual flavours stand out and overpower the other, yet each sustains it's own battle.
Don Draper, after being divorced from Megan lost the custody of his boy to Betty. After a lot of convincing and legal power play, he managed to be a custodian and guardian to the effervescent Sally, his daughter.

Don moved to India, Madras to be more specific, started a leather business and resumed his love for the life-saving brown fluids and power. More like dissolving his life in alcohol one peg at a time. Just like the way specimens are preserved in a biological laboratory. It's tough to figure out how Don eventually turns out to be, but that's life.

A Cool, Dark Place could very well be a story of Don Draper's fall and rise just like the bubbles trapped in a champagne bottle falling from the bottle in the champagne flute and escaping from there.
“History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” - Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
For an actual (and good) review of the book, check here.