Alchemy – Book Review

Book: Alchemy, The Tranquebar of Erotic Stories -2
Author : Various (edited by Sheba Karim)
Publisher: Westland
Price: Rs. 295

This was a first for me. Even though 50 Shades of Grey climbed up the charts, I didn’t have the nerve to pick up that genre and actually read a whole book about it. But when I received “Alchemy, The Tranquebar of Erotic Stories” for review, I had but no option. Like an artist, a reader  should be versatile too, right? And with that thought, I sat down to read the book.

As I was done reading the first story of the book, the first thing that struck me was that a book like this cannot be read in a single go. Or may be even two-three stories at a time. It is so overwhelming at times, that I just had to put the book down and get some fresh air. It’s too descriptive, and if it’s your first time reading erotica, you are going to find it disturbing like I did. But then, I have to add that it’s not cheap or vulgar in any which way. Every story is unique, has a strong undercurrent to it and mostly it leaves you thinking. About societal issues, sexual fallacies, human emotions and a writer’s unlimited imagination.

Here’s a summary of the book:
So many elements of ourselves come together in the act of sex: skin and bodily fluids, desire, fear, greed, joy, stigma, pride, affection, guilt, often in the hopes of creating something more beautiful, our personal elixirs of life, however temporary, however permanent.

In Alchemy, Tranquebar’s second anthology of erotic short stories, editor Sheba Karim has brought together thirteen diverse works about the pains and pleasures of sex including an unapologetic account of a postmodern man’s attraction to his maid, a futuristic tale of a four gendered orgy, a poignant narrative of a boy’s sexual awakening in a cinema bathroom, and a lyrical meditation on a mysterious woman’s carnal lessons to an imprisoned monk. The anthology’s vivid, well-crafted stories move across genres, orientations, continents and genders, taking the reader on an intimate journey through the complex alchemies of sex, desire and love.

Some of the stories that caught my attention:

Abandon by Shrimoyee Nandini: The story revolves around a couple, in a no-strings-attached relationship, who go around searching for half built unattended construction sites around the city, and make out in them in the dead of the night. And then one night, something strange happens. Its written so well, description so vivid, you can almost feel it playing in front of your eyes.

Mouth by M.Svairini is a story beyond the reaches of my imagination. Its plot, characters and description is again, way more vivid that you would like. I read the story in multiple sittings for my own comfort as I couldn’t bring myself to imagine the kind of world that would be, as thought of by the author. But again, you have to give it to the author for the sheer brilliance of it.

The Marrying Kind by Mary Anne Mohanraj is quite the story of today’s times. Although Jared is a perfect man, who wants to marry Leilani, she doesn’t concede until he breaks down all his barriers to satisfy her.

Close on the heels of the above is Next Year At The Taj by Sheba Karim which is about an estranged couple. The couple parts ways, the man goes on a globe trotting spree and  after sleeping with a hooker, he is so guilt stricken that he goes all out to get the love in his marriage back.
There are others too, which were subtle because we have heard and read about men fantasizing about their maids, or little boys discovering their fantasies. 
If you keep aside the very vivid sexual descriptions, you can actually appreciate the beauty and art of the book. Sheba Karim has done a very good job picking out these stories and compiling them into this beautiful alchemy of a book. I have said much about the nature and content of the book that it’s really up to you to decide if you are ready to go on this journey yet. If you think you are, trust me, you are not! 😉 But you should definitely give it a try!

My rating: 3/5

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