Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: Cough Syrup Surrealism by Tharun James Jimani

On the jacket:

"Charlie's not a depressive. He's certainly not suicidal; the boy's too big a coward to even cut himself while shaving. He may be delusional, he may sincerely wish that he were depressed, but he's certainly not a depressive."

That's Mao; nobody listens to him. But that's probably because he's a figment of Charlie's imagination.

An unwitting Charlie - rudely interrupted in the middle of typing out his umpteenth suicide note - is hurled into a brave new world of addiction, rock music, and debauchery in this tale of growing up and going down. From rolling joints to rolling in drug money, from backing out of life, to fronting somebody else's rock band, he's in for a bumpy ride. Charlie divides his time between being in love with Paloma and hating himself, betweein living out Nineties music video fantasies and wishing he were someone else.

The problem is it's 2006 and MTV is not Music Television anymore. Mixtapes are passé, self-loathing is cliché and Charlie's world is fast deteriorating into caricature. At the end, Charlie is forced to figure eout which one of his many lives he really wants for himself.

Question: You can take a boy out of the Nineties, but can you take the Nineties out of him?


The book begins with a suicide note on facebook, with various kinds of reactions being posted under it.

Cough Syrup Surrealism is a take on issues bothering the latest lot of teenagers - the kids born in the nineties. The book is about Charlie, a student in Chennai. His parents want him to be an IAS officer, but his life is messed up. While he is amidst drugs, rock n roll and sex, and attempting suicide for the nth number of time; his parents are worried about him. And, there is Mao, Charlie's alter ego, a very active one too. 

A quick read, this will leave you with a whole lot to ponder upon. Conversations between Charlie and his alter-ego, Mao are hilarious and witty. A refreshing read, specially for the generation that is growing up to be tomorrow's future.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Fingerprint Publishers. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.] 

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