The Highway Man – J Alchem.
There are three types of books that I read these days :). The first one(s) are the ones that I already have or the ones that I keep hoarding left, right and center as and when and from wherever I can lay my hands on. Second types are of-course the ones referred and recommended by you lovely people that keep making me poorer by the day (monetarily). But the new third types are a little special these days – now these are the one(s) sent to me either by the Writers themselves or by their marketing / promotion guys who are always on the lookout for sort of a genuine feedback. This year, if I am not exaggerating, I must have read close to a dozen published books from the third category (and I am not complaining yet), have read two unpublished ones as well as two manuscripts (looking for publishers – any recommendations:)). You see I am basically a sucker for reading and I don’t mind from where the books are coming as long as they are not costing me too much, I would love to buy anything and everything I can get at whatever prices. So, this particular book in question popped up like that from someone who is credited by the Author too. As this was a very short book (70 pages precise) and I must tell you this, she was too kind to send me an Amazon gift card so I could buy a Kindle version 🙂 the least I could do is read, rate and may be give my opinion of the same. And as a very highly respectable friend once told me “If someone ask you for a genuine advice, do them a favor by being genuine – they may or may not like your advice(s) but it will help them in longer run”. I keep doing what I do best, blabber about it :).
As it came recommended by someone who is already credited by the Author in the book and I was told that its a quick, easy and fast read. It actually turned out to be one that I finished in flat an hour and a half I guess. On my way to Indore from Pune, lying down on a Luxury Sleeper Bus, I wrapped it up in one shot. The book actually is a collection of three short stories. First one is about a Writer, who has written a series of books revolving around one female character. What happens when he himself falls for the character he had created and how his life turns to be is the story is all about. Unfortunately its a short story so there is not much scope of character development or background hence it didn’t work one bit for me as everything looked like too flimsy and the ease with which it all happens evokes no feelings in the reader and that tame predictable ending just kills it in the end. Second story is about a loving couple, this one I really liked as I had a little connect with the Husband’s character, one fine day he wakes up to make his wife happy and do what she does all the time for him and what he gets in return had a wide smile on my face. Who makes the other’s day and life better is what I kept thinking in the end, was a superb charming read. But the title story “The Highway Man” in the end as they say, keep the best for the last, that should have been the case if and only if this was a full fledged story. Unfortunately the idea of writing a short story goes again against it and the reader is kept asking for more. Life of a guy after losing his wife in a freak road accident, who is on the verge of losing his son too, trying hard to make up for the little kid, goes on a road trip meets a hitchhiker who changes their life. The ending of this one too which should have taken the cake but misses the bus altogether (at least for me) for its sheer predictability.
Short stories and books I believe usually work as they are fast read and do not give much time to the reader to think but the main reason why these did not work for me is because there is no heart in it. It would have worked I guess if there were a dozen of stories to choose from or may be if they were full fledged stories with detailed character development or backgrounds which isn’t the case here. Another point that doesn’t work in the favor of the book (and stories) is the Acknowledgement and Preface where they have written so much about the book, author and story that it kind of soars up the expectations of the reader and then it falls flat on its face. Imagine the initial 15-18% of the book is the Introduction and all that.
Although, in the end of the book the Author says that she will come out with a full fledged book on the character of “The Highway Man” I guess. I would love to give it a try as and when it comes (2018).