Book Review: Palm’s Foster Home for Peculiar Stories
I am quite ambivalent about my opinion on this book. It usually does not happen. I know whether I like it or not. It is a different matter that I may not be brutally honest in my review for a bad book, or superfluously glowing for a good book. But I know. Not this time.
Because, Palm’s Foster Home For Peculiar Stories by C G Salamander (author’s nom de plume) is a weird book. It is fantasy alright. And hence, it is an allegory and commentary as well, alright. Too many allegories actually. There are plot within sub plots within plots that are actually sub plots. The characters stay inside an imaginary world with excessive doses of idiosyncrasies, speak a language which is full of indirect references, and are funny while being profound. Across the jabs at socialism-capitalism, social discrimination, religion and theology, there is too much to process. And there is a lot of straight faced sarcasm and humour in it. And that makes the book completely worth a try.
The book is structured in three parts:
Nigel, the last British, is a fascinating character, for no one told him that British have left India. With a few near death experiences, a quirky wife, a disruptive bunch of relatives who plot and plan his downfall all the time, Nigel makes up for some weirdly comical moments.
The second part of the book – Gayatri and The Church of Holy Vegetables – is more a marriage between Animal Farm, Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Alice in Wonderland. Not so deftly pulled off. But complex and curious all the way. There are revolutionary cabbages who lead to the rise of cabbagism, God’s descendants, zombies, rowdy farm animals and so on. There is, what you would call, an interesting clusterf***.
The third part of the book –Aliens, Dinosaurs and Porcupines – is a love story. Or…
Overall, the book is a commendable debut. The complexity that Salamander manages through his peculiar stories is laudable. The question though – was that required? Or, could he have simplified? Did he bite a bit too much in his debutante enthusiasm?
There are three things that made the book difficult for me:
The pace of the book. It is uneven, and in certain sub-section laboriously slow. Sometimes, the complex and long sentence structures, choice of heavy sounding words, and circular references tend to drag you down.
Salamander has tried to pack so much of doped out discussion about dystopian realism and inter-dimensional whack jobs, that the book suffers. With so much happening, the ebb and flows of the book needed to be managed carefully. More importantly, the rounding off at the end had to be smooth.
The three book split. The short Nigel section is funny and fast. The fat central section tires you, but is the most complex, and could have been carved out as a separate book on its own. If, in fact, the book was just one, and the focus air-tight, we might have had an awesome sweeper debut here.
The book might work wonderfully for a small section of readers, but for most people, I fear – there is too much happening, and it is not necessarily in an accessible language. That is not to say that the book is even remotely average. It is one of the most refreshing debut works I have read this year. And a better editor could have given so much lift to the quality.
Just for the effort, canvas and complexity, I would go with a 3 on 5 for the book. And all the best for the future works, hopefully under the wings of a good editor.
Title : Palm’s Foster Home For Peculiar Stories
Authors: C G Salamander
Publisher/ Imprint: Jellyfish Publications
Genre/ Sub Genre: Fiction/ Fantasy
Rating: 3.00 of 5.00
Reviewed for: Author
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