Sunday, January 15, 2012

Of No Fixed Address

Before he became a well-known comic author and movie director in India, Kaizad Gustad traveled the world for three years, doing odd jobs and living, generally, with no fixed address.

He published this collection of (tenuously) linked short stories, each associated with a different prominent world city. They (mostly) share the same central character, a young writer traveling the world, with no place to call home. Whether some of the stories are autobiographical is never fully made clear.

The writing style varies from story to story, keeping the reading experience fresh and new. I didn't care so much for the stories that focused on romance and sex in faraway places; it wasn't so much that the fault of the stories themselves as that I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd read it all before, despite Gustad's experimentation with narrative.

Somehow the two stories I enjoyed the most were homages to more traditional forms of narrative: "Phaedrus and the Funny Papers", the London story, in which our narrator rooms with a dull and stodgy proper English couple; and "Apprenticeship of an Author", the Toronto story, in which a fictional Indian character dreamed up by a Canadian-based Booker-winning author goes off to confront his creator.

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