|Image Credit : Guardian|
But there is a certain beauty to this collection. Daniel Kehlmann is what I wish I could be. His sarcasm and wit seamlessly blends in with his dark and acerbic humor. It's the sort of humor that doesn't hurt, that makes you smile, and yet the dark comedy in his lines make you cringe, because Kehlmann is pointing the finger not at his characters but the world we live in. A networked world that is falling apart because of technology, at the evident law of connection that the cosmos operates on, and the sheer absurdity in trying to milch sense out of it. Kehlmann strikes me as an intelligent author. (Actually, aren't all authors intelligent? How would they write books otherwise?). There is much to be explored beneath the seeming dry wit. Take for instance this quote:
At first I supervised five people, then seven, then nine, discovered to my amazement that people cannot work together without hating one another, and if you tell them who what to do they detest you, met Hannah, whom I loved more than she loved me, became head of a department, and then was moved to another town; it's called a career.
Wow. A more powerful criticism of the modern day drudgery of work I haven't read in a while.
And this for us, the 'social' generation:
There is more to this book than just dark humor. There are layers of meaning beneath each story. And interesting narrative twists as in the story of Rosalie, a terminally ill old woman, who begs the writer to save her life just before she commits to a Swiss institute to take her own life. And does the writer intervene? Most of all these stories echo one frightening thought : that there is no isolated action. That something happens somewhere that creates a ripple elsewhere. It's a thought that has always fascinated me. And repelled me. You would want to think that you are independent; that really the fact that you go jogging tomorrow morning is not going to affect anyone else in this universe except you. And then I start thinking - because I go jogging early in the morning, my Mom has to get up earlier. The shoes I wear are Nike - imagine the process it must have gone through to reach here, and because I am jogging, the sun has to rise. Haha.
How strange that technology has brought us into a world where there are no fixed places anymore. You speak out of nowhere [on cellphones and the internet], you can be anywhere, and because nothing can be checked, anything you choose to imagine is, at bottom, true.
Forgive this slightly crazed review. But I think it's a bit like what Fame is. It's craziness. Beautiful craziness.
Verdict : Very readable, especially if you want to take a break from the regular and mundane.
Rating : 3/5