Book name: Six – Strange Stories of Love (Around the World Collection)
Author name: Poornima Manco
Rating: 4.5 ⭐
I love short stories. Both reading and writing. But the world is often not so kind to short stories, in my opinion. There are not too many short story collections getting published and most publishers seem less keen on investing in getting them out either. And in that dismayed world sometimes, we chance upon a book, a collection of short stories that restores our faith in this format.
The book Six – Strange Stories of Love (Around the World Collection), written by Poornima Manco is one such rare gem. I chanced upon a review in April and downloaded the book then. Conveniently forgotten, I opened it again on a lazy afternoon ride. The caution it flashed on its blurb compelled me to pick up the book more. How can I not read a book that can boldly proclaim:
CAUTION: These are NOT conventional love stories. If you are looking for romantic tales, please look elsewhere.
After the last romantic read, this was a fresh breath of change.
True to its description the book was NOT a romance anthology but one that focusses on the various forms of love – the forms often ignored in literature. Each story is placed in a different part of the world and the narration reeks of the essence of that place.
In a nutshell, the stories in this anthology span a wide range of “love” topics. From obsession to mistrust, from loss to disillusion, the emotions explored in the stories make each one unique. I like how the anthology addresses issues that aren’t typically addressed in ‘love stories.’ The approach towards love in the book was much more modern and inclusive even addressing gender dysphoria.
What worked for me
1. The stories, their plots, and execution. Like in all anthologies, some stories were better than others. If I have to rank, my favorite was “A New Place” based in the UK. I could never imagine the darkest and saddest story in a potpourri of love stories would take my heart away. This story in itself raised the quality of the book many folds. The story felt a little weird in the beginning but I am glad I kept reading it. Thanks to the author for the little ray of magic at the end.
A close second would be The Purple Ribbon based on a Mexican setup. Didn’t expect a supernatural story in a book of love but there it was with an extraordinary atmosphere creation. The love triumphed over the eeriness is all that I can say.
The final story of the series, La Dolorosa, a thespian relationship story was another winner. Especially the last scene stole the show questioning our own definitions of love.
2. The author uses various locations throughout the world for the stories. But she doesn’t just mention the region or give her characters local names; she infuses the sense of the place throughout each story using customs or beliefs and local lingo. This presumably genuine effort to create a true description generates a lasting impression on the readers.
3. The rich vocabulary and literary writing style also enhanced the reading experience manifold. Especially the endings lifted the stories from good to great.
What could have been better
1. Two of the stories seemed weaker than the others. While Hair, set in India tackled some serious topics, it fell short in character development in my opinion. Another one, The fake Rolex set in Italy could not hold my rapt attention. With a bland title, it downgraded the effect further. I could not love the stories like the others.
2. While it was commendable of the author to use local lingo and it gave an honest setting, it would have helped if the translations and meanings were included on the same page for better impact.
A highly recommended book for readers who love short stories. The collection defines love in a modern way and will not disappoint you.