Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chucking the Dragon; chucking the reality of the pearl…

First I saw this book; my purchase decision solely lied on its beautiful design. The chaotic, unconventional graphic design approach mesmerized me and it’s really rare to find such experimentation in a paperback novel format in Sri Lankan Literature. Second point which captured my eye was that even he appeared in a pen name, the author stated that he’s an Anandian, which is also happen to be my school and the first thing that popped to my head was “you are kidding me”, because producing this kind of art piece isnot a mean feat and I was not acknowledged about it all this time until I read the introduction of the book.

The story revolves around the life experiences of a high class drug addictyouthwho puts the period to his drug addiction and tries to move on with his life amidst of uncertain social, political and cultural landscape of war torned Sri Lankan suburbia and clash of his ideologies with the system. This was the first novel which came to my occasional reading experiences which features one unusual combination; high class society in Colombo dealing with the experiences of war, which is for me was nonexistent at that time or simply their opinion was regarded as high minded display of pretentious “human rights” or “party politics” mentality.  Here the protagonist of the story “Mark”, a youth from a well off yet unconventional family has friends of the middle class well as lower class and he studied at government school and reading for the degree in university of Colombo who genuinely sympathizes with the trauma and debacle that’s Sri Lankan middle class is facing not just during the war but even right now.

Pro leftist point of view (which is not my favorite political belief to speak) is amply visible and justified through characters’ struggle in “the survival of the fittest” capitalistic system to survive on a daily basis. One of the key thinking of the author which I also believe in is that ’89 riots and government crackdown of JVP rebels cost Sri Lanka most of the people of our elder generation who are creative, rebellious and stand up with a straightened backbone for what they genuinely believe. It changed the whole political, social and cultural landscape of this country adversely in years to come and the consequences we experiences today is due to the space left by all those vanished intellectual souls who were determined enough to attempt change.

I like how the author bought pop cultural elements in snippets and captions throughout the book. The grungy design approach also follows the whole aura which is created by the philosophy of Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, Fight Club & Trainspotting Scripts etc… How we see the world in our generation is strongly guided by these cultural elements nowadays due to the fact that post MTV and internet era have pushed the boundaries of knowledge and aesthetic experiences irrespective of which world we belong to. The author has managed to capture this insight but sometimes went too far in statements such as “industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails” rather than plainly saying the band name without overstressing on the knowledge of his music taste.  Nonetheless the effort to understand the current situation in the Sri Lankan political, societal and cultural landscape through pop cultural influences without discarding them as just what people like when they were teenagers is much commendable.

Our protagonist; Mark’s ex- girlfriend Jane who never gives up hope and belief on him till the end of the story gives a touch to the whole dark story.  It also tends to make the readers believe that  the fact that affection and true love is not dead and vanished yet in this capitalistic system and leaves a glimpse of hope that humanity is still visible and can be found if one is ready to open his/her eyes and look around with an open heart. The story also shows the much grave tragedy of the youth who usestheir bodily pleasures as a mechanism to runway form their failures, fears and pains and how it turns in toan emotional addiction and grave societal problem in an indirect way.

Before winding up, the credit must be given to the publishers, Sri Serendipity publishing House for taking the adventure of this aesthetically as well as ideologically innovative yet harmful project (due to the insecurities of holding contradictory viewpoints in present day society) and to successfully finishing the journey and gifting the Sri Lankan readers with an awesomely looking, rich literature piece to cleanse their hungry minds. May there be more words and wits for the author; Mark Wilde (whoever you are) to write the best about the bad and to make this world a much safer, happier and healthy place for all to live.

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