Tales of the mundane and the macabre
Reviewed by Balwinder Kaur
Lost Libido and Other Gulp Fiction
By Salil Desai. Fingerprint! Publishing. Pages 288. Rs 195.

THE everyday lives of normal people comprise of a series of rather repetitive and mundane tasks but every once in a while there is an event. This event even in a life utterly average can yield a story worth telling. A brief moment of heightened emotion and astonishing circumstance. One extraordinary day, out of multiples of 365. Be it orchestrated or accidental, fuelled by motivations genial or criminal, caused by actions unwitting or deliberate, these events (both surprising and planned) occur. The predicaments range from the familiar to the shocking. And make up the most extraordinary days of otherwise ordinary people living in urban India.

Salil Desai, the author of Lost Libido and Other Gulp Fiction has captured these very moments in the literary equivalent of a mouthful of flavour to be savoured and easily consumed; gulp fiction. Aakash is suffering from an acute case of lost libido but decides on a less-than savoury avenue for a cure. But as it turns out his choice is far from being the only questionable one... Who Strangled Sharma? is the mantra of a whodunit in which the titular Sharma has met his end abruptly and supposedly at the hands of one of his employees in an office building.

After the traumatic repercussions of nearly drowning at age four, exposure therapy is what the doctor orders for young Nikhil. But the medicine proves hard to swallow as the pool he goes to has a dark history and murky waters in its Drowning Depth. Epiphanies are spurred by many events but an accidental house arrest in One Monday Morning brings Rahul face to face with his priorities and choices. And finally, the open door liberates him in more ways than one. Our Friendly Neighbourhood Murder is the unlikely situation in which all the residents of a building have a common goal; murder. But when their ardent desire is fulfilled at the hands of a mystery benefactor the neighbourhood has a completely different problem.

A picnic with a body count. Vitamins which make people sick. Stolen goods which prove very expensive. Bad grades which precipitate unusual parental suffering. Broken records which elicit no celebration. Accidents without any victims. These are just some of the very strange happenings within these pages.