The clock is ticking towards the end of the year, and with New Year celebrations all around, I decided on some bookish contribution as well. An attempt to sum up the old year and welcome the new one with a book on the theme of spirits. Big mistake! This book just turned me all gloomy and I had to salvage the year end by reading something else. (There’s no way I’m ending a fabulous year with such a read). But read on anyways, and hear a little more about it.
Title – 2 Peg Ke Baad
Author – Nikita Lalwani
Genre – Non fiction
The title is in Hindi (meaning “After 2 Pegs”), though the book is in English. As the title suggests, the book is about what happens after drinking two pegs. Or not necessarily two pegs, but basically an inebriated state. This is an anthology comprising fourteen short (and some not-so-short) stories, that started off as a blog post with people from around the world sharing their tales, or confessions, or whatever memories they have of acting out in a drunken stupor. The book does not encourage drinking, nor does it have to be read only by those who drink, and thereby more familiar with the beverages mentioned. These are true stories, after all, and even teetotallers can read them. Good literature can be appreciated even if one does not identify with the theme. Sadly, this book does not qualify as good literature.
I thought the premise was interesting, with an eclectic mix of contributors for each of the stories. But the narratives weren’t engaging enough – you don’t feel for the characters or their experiences. The style of writing was also disappointing. There are blatant grammatical errors alongside big and fancy words. It seems like the author picked up a bunch of words from the dictionary in an attempt to make the book more “literary”, but it’s a complete turn off when basic grammar is incorrect. As a reader (or even a listener in a verbal conversation), one would rather have simplistic vocabulary accompanied by good grammar, instead of fanciful lexicon that seems completely out of place.
One of the stories is about an individual with a keen interest in the French language. Here too, the French-English translations are totally off, not to forget the French (if you can call it that). One example, “madmosel” – even non French speakers are familiar with the word “mademoiselle”. Considering these are true stories, even if the person submitting the account made the mistakes (which she shouldn’t have since she’s writing about her own life episodes), the least the author could have done was a little research and reference work before putting something out for publishing. Some of the stories feel like fictitious accounts, with the words “2 pegs” repeatedly being mentioned like they needed to tailor a story around the given theme. Though the book claims these are all true incidents, “inspired by a true story” is mentioned only in some places. Makes one wonder about the authenticity of the rest of them.
All-in-all, a disappointing read that I shouldn’t have ended a good literary year with. I usually don’t suggest what one should or should not read, since reading preferences differ from person to person. But definitely don’t begin a new year with this one; squeeze it in between some fabulous books if you do go for it.