This is not a critical review of the book by chapter. This is an attempt to write a good review on good reads about the book at the end of my reading. It happens almost every time, with me at least, that when the book gets finished, I get this automatic feeling to write something about the book, but I’m almost never able to (unless I take notes along the way). These are the notes for the final review.
About the book’s looks —
The book is so pretty! I love the cover art. It was designed by Nivedita Sekhar, Damini Kane’s best friend —
And the font is pretty too! (one of the things that terribly puts me off from reading a book is a bad font. Good that it has a good one!).
I think the price is little high, but I don’t mind spending to read something so fresh and good.
The book has 21 chapters. I intend to read one everyday and write about each one of them.
About the Author
I have only followed Damini from the time she came into the radar of spoken word poetry scene in India. She performed a couple of poems which got uploaded on youtube after which I started following her on Instagram (where she is as active as a radioactive element). All I know about her is that she loves building and poring over characters, and she hates writing academic essays. She aims at acing winged eye line some day. And she has been reading and writing from as long as she can remember. She loves her notebooks in which she takes notes for stories, books, novels.
I talked to her after reading some of the chapters of the (now defunct) project called Cor Corand. She wrote a mammoth length series about a nation in conflict. And very exciting and unusual one at that. Unfortunately that didn’t get too much attention and she had to stop writing it. Good thing, she got her first book published!
She has also given me wonderful feedback for the only two short stories I’ve ever written, and patiently answered all my questions about writing good stories and fiction and more. I’m immensely grateful for that, more than she might know.
Damini is like a dreamy person for me. And I consider myself a big fan of her writing, opinions and honesty. I’ve never met her.
I like to write down the first lines of novels in my blogposts and reviews because I like to come back to read the first line again after I finish the book, just to be able to check if the initial instinct, that comes automagically after advancing a few sentences of the book, was correct. The first sentences of The Sunlight Plane goes —
The summertime sky in Mumbai was usually white, because the sun glared at it until it went pale with fear, and the blue it was supposed to be dripped off the surface of the atmosphere and fell into the Arabian Sea.
I don’t know about you, but I was immediately hooked at because the sun glared at it until it went pale with fear.
The book is about two 9 years olds Tharush and Aakash (both names’ meaning translates to sky). As soon as I realised this in the first paragraph, I was like woah! How could she go back to imagining things from the perspective of 9 years olds ? I could not do it, at least right now. Who knows I get ideas after reading this book. Anyways.
I absolutely ❤️ed the development of Tharush’s mom’s character, particularly her teasing Tharush as casually as walking.
After mom had told him to stop daydreaming and to hurry up, and after he looked off, she asked
“Are you still angry with me?” she asked, lilting laughter coating her firmness.
“Numbers don’t win wars”, his mother replied, her tone mockingly cheerful.
She gasped. “Really?” Tell me more, Oh Wise One.”. The metallic lift doors opened and she stepped inside with all the grace of someone used to winning verbal battles.
“I am in the middle of an extremely important battle,” Tharush replied, using the same formal flair his father had when Tharush interruped him when he was on the phone.
“Oh, my”, his mother teased. “Well, if you can take a break from your destruction and carnage, dinner’s on the table”.
Not to even mention because Tharush is nine years old, he battles with things he doesn’t know by guessing about them, or simply asking about them forthright.
“What does ‘carnage’ mean?” he called after his mother, turning off the lights and fan as he darted out of the room.
Tharush had never understood what stock of what his father wanted from the market, and why he didn’t just go get it. He could, alternatively, put it on the grocery list. But he didn’t. Why?
As amusing and real these blockquote scenes and dialogues look, trust me, they are hard to make right. I couldn’t have possibly imagined from a 9 years old point of view as I said before as well.
Some of the phrases / sentences / words were so fresh, I had to highlight them with a pretty light highlighter (because I don’t like bright colour highlighters, I use a fax paper highlighter, which is… much lighter) and read them over and over again, because once is never enough.
- Tharush thought the sky was of burns and bruises, white hot like that one time he accidentally put his hand over a candle flame, then pink, blue and black, like when he tripped on the stairs and smashed his knees.
- Tree-bark brown eyes
- Frayed, purée, moat, bristle (v), kooky, poring, likened, pressed, posse, cliques, chital.
- Tharush made a nasally whine.
- The whole character introduction of Tharush’s father which included bespectacled man with slanting shoulders and sharp nose, weighed down by his black office suits and navy blue laptop bag.
- With words too big to want to pronounce.
- …using the same formal flair his father had when Tharush interruped him when he was on the phone. (Show not tell)
- He didn’t even want to (see the tv), it just somehow happened. Something to distract his mind. (Show not tell)
- “What about his mom?” Tharush asked, because that was a question hanging over the table with the same overbearing presence of a twenty-foot tall bear (GENIUS!)
- The most hilarious thing of all were the descriptions made to decry Eggplants. I won’t jot them down here, lest you not enjoy it.
- I learnt that okra is ladies finger.
What I Learnt From Chapter 1 —
- Dialogue placements — When Damini gave feedback on a story I wrote titled For No Reason, she suggested to me read more about dialogue placements — when to put a newline, when not to, whether to follow descriptive or follow up fragmented text immediately after the dialogue or in a new line and the like. I gave a lot of attention to how she has done it, and will continue to do it for every fiction book I read from now on.
- Show not tell — In the two short stories that I’ve written so far, I’ve struggled with following this rule. I often end up writing a lot of descriptive boring text explaining something rather than using the power of metaphors, dialogues, narration, fragmented sentences, building images to actually show what is happening / has happened. There were so many examples of this from the first chapter itself, I can’t wait to read more.