Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weird Tales of a Bangalorean [ Jayaprakash Sathyamurthy]

Weird Tales... is about as functional a name as you can give for a book that's, well, what it says. But it's also another clever conceit in this sinuous volume packed with slyness: Jayaprakash's Bangalore is the fulcrum of his narratives, a sentient presence, ancient enough for soul-swallowing secrets. There may occasionally be some ostensible location changes but as the author himself says, "Parts of Bangalore aren't in Bangalore at all". It would appear that this Bangalorean always finds bits of his city wherever he goes (perhaps unknowingly he carries them along). Jayaprakash's stories delve into those intriguing facets of the city that have evoked his qualities of observation and imagination, its protagonists almost always transparent surrogates for his Bangalorean self.
With slipped in phrases, whispered references and mostly subtle sleight of hand, he threads the individual stories into a stealthy cloak of collective experience. Certain concepts resonate across stories, but in a sufficiently distinct way as to render them as variations on a theme.
In every sort of creative endeavor, but perhaps more so in in the Weird Tale, every new voice carries with it the spirit of earlier voices. You can find in Jayaprakash's work echoes of both HP Lovecraft's cosmic horror and Thomas Ligotti's existential horror - My Saints Are Down for whatever reason had me thinking back to Ligotti's Last Feast of The Harlequin, which in turn was a homage to Lovecraft's The Festival - we come full circle here.
In a collection everyone will have their favorites, mine is The Song of The Eukarya - here he takes the time to first build an emotional resonance with the characters which he then craftily employs to make us feel their horror as it unfolds. If I were to nitpick I'd say the last entry (Bean Town Blues) seems a little forced in its attempt to join up the earlier experiences, like some cast bow after the curtains fall. But that's, like I say, a nitpick, and one that in no way effaces the brilliance of everything that comes before it. I finished the book almost entirely in a single short duration flight and intend to return to it soon to revel in the simply marvelous spider-web of imagination that is Jayaprakash's work.

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