Saturday, September 24, 2011

Focus, Sam by Rohit Gore: Impressions

If anything, this book is 'unexpected'.

Although a Rupa Publication warrants some quality, I was rather skeptical about Focus, Sam, when I bought it. The title was chiefly to blame. What else does one think of a book that sounds like a dubious imitation of the wonderful English, August? And if, even after reading the book, I have my doubts, the title is largely to blame. I still don't get it. I'm not sure the author gets it either. It is, as if to assuage his own doubts, the author inserts the phrase 'Focus, Sam, focus' at many random points in the book. The vague purpose of the story is about the protagonist Sameer Sathe understanding what he wants from life, but it doesn't quite justify the title.

In fact, I find little justification for the entire story. Focus, Sam doesn't really start with a purpose; it doesn't really reach a conclusion. But the funny part is that it is a nice novel. Its plot is so unlike anything I've read before, that it left me pleasantly confused. In the briefest possible summary, Sameer Sathe is an engineer-turned-bookseller, who is curiously affected by accidents every year of his life. A mysterious seer tells him it's a curse and that the next accident would kill him. The only way to lift the curse is to revisit every 'love' of his life, and find his saviour. The book describes how Sameer, with the help of his best friend, Jai, go about the process.

It is in describing this process that the merit of the author, Rohit Gore, lies. The introduction of the medieval idea of a curse in a modern setting and the choosing of some extremely varied characters (even caricatures), who have been the protagonist's past loves is definitely the book's high point. But it never becomes clear in the book what exactly the curse is, or how revisiting these women will right it. Right to the end, the reader can make only half guesses as to what the message of each of these episodes is. There is no clear pattern; only a vague indication about finishing the unfinished businesses in these relationships. My best guess is that these past issues block his future happiness; but it is never clearly stated. The author never explicitly spells out that that is his curse, and one is left wondering how resolving these will change the status of his physical safety.

The language is crisp and modern, although the author is given to frequent 'cheesy' slips. There are a fair number of well-sketched characters and they hold their place well in the story. But the author often goes OTT in showing off how well read he is and throws around names of famous books whenever he can. My other minor grouse is that the book has not been edited thoroughly and despite a frenetic reading pace, I noticed a handful of errors. The most jarring of all was the name of the protagonist spelt as 'Samir' instead of 'Sameer' on Pg. 195.

There is a final disappointment in the lack of a solid premise in the book, but as long as you are reading it, you can't help but enjoy it. Read it once, I would say.

Castle of Books (www.castleofbooks.inis the agency responsible for the author promotion of this book. You can find them on:


the mind behind the mindless lampoons said...

tomorrow i would know,but thanks for this prelude, though i stand in the middle of phrases u use like ''There is a final disappointment in the lack of a solid premise in the book, but as long as you are reading it, you can't help but enjoy it.''

Anonymous said...

interesting sounding book, and a well written review :) you have a good reading list I see from the reviews !!