Chaotic Alleys #ShortStories by Mahesh Nair

Please welcome my author buddy Mahesh Nair who has recently released his debut book – ‘Chaotic Alleys: Collected Works.’ I was enthralled by this book as Mahesh’s short stories unfold like opening a treasure chest; you have to delve deeper to find the gems hidden in the corners – such is his style of writing.

Chaotic Alleys: Collected Works is a fiction compilation of micro, flash, and short stories published, shortlisted, longlisted, and anthologized in journals and magazines.

“I appreciate expression that provokes my senses, causes my gut to rise or settle. If the words remain with me as images, it’s a winner. Mahesh’s writing has done this,” says Bela Johnson — Editor, Writer, & Former Host of Alternative Currents on WERU-FM

Purchase link

My Review:

True to its name, ‘Chaotic Alleys’ escorts you into turbulent lanes of life that diverge into unimaginable proportions. Some of them open into positive vistas but much depends on your own perspective and interpretation. Fresh and poignant, Mahesh Nair’s flash fiction says volumes in just a few words, each one loaded! His stories are close to reality yet unpredictable. They compel you to ponder, as the depth of his words is mysterious.

This book is divided into three parts: flash fiction, short stories and micro-fiction. You could finish it within an hour or keep returning to fathom some profound and chilling truths. Read how callous compassion is, what a sham some wishes are, what a mockery people make of their existence. These stories would shake you to search the exact meaning of life; the elusive realities would unfold with an alarming authenticity. 

‘The Budding 90s’ is layered in the mystery of words; it doesn’t speak about the relationship shared by Amit and Samir but lets you discern what his “walking partner” means to Amit. The symbols of ‘heat’ and ‘rivulets of rainwater’ may seem paradoxical but they add a brilliant dimension to the story. ‘Water’ that trickles from the window and ceiling complete the societal and religious constraints that threaten to weaken their souls.

A subtle comment on the plight of couriers, ‘Alert, Alert’ unravels the truth about parsimonious people. Do they even know what is gratitude? Could they ever understand what compels the couriers to keep going despite the callous attitude of those who sit in the comfort of their offices and get served with the food of their choice? The flashbacks of Samaira’s life add a touch of poignancy to her struggle.

‘A Distance Away’ stunned me, as it is completely unpredictable. Written in an unusual style, it sounds like a normal cruise date, as Randy seems to love Jane. Like a meandering stream, their thoughts don’t give any inkling where they are going to lead each other. This one is my favorite! No guessing would lead you to the truth that unfolds. 

While I sympathize with Samaira, ‘Breathlessly Yours’ left me spellbound. I smiled at the optimism of Jon; would his dreams of wooing a woman, two decades younger than him come true? You’ll have to read to find out.

Nair’s characters exude dynamism but something hides behind their persona that raises the story above the mundane. Whether it is Randy or Jon – two entirely different men, they are well defined and memorable; they may seem realistic yet they are not! The hallmark of Nair’s stories is variety and tone, so different from the traditional ones. Highly recommended.

Meet the Author:

Mahesh Nair studied creative fiction at New York University. He won Strands International Flash Fiction Award, was shortlisted for Bath Flash Fiction Award and Micro Madness NFFD New Zealand, long listed twice for Reflex Fiction prize, and highly commended twice at London Independent Story Prize. His work has appeared in Barren Magazine, Literary Orphans, The Bookends Review, Smokebox, Paragraph Planet, 101 Words, AdHoc Fiction, BlinkInk Print, and Crack the Spine, and is featured in three anthologies. He was a contributing author for a CNF anthology, Lady by the River.

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Balroop Singh.

#Life #Emotions #BookReviews

The journey of life is veiled in colors. I have written many times about life yet these two books revealed some more layers for me.

I was drawn in by the analogy – ‘Life is like a bowl of cherries.’ It led me into various alleys even before I opened the book. I love short stories and Sally’s stories regale you with various experiences that are woven into the inescapable web of life. The book begins with ‘The Weekly Shopping’ – the most appropriate, humorous yet grim comment on how technology has crept into our lives. It would make you wonder: can we escape such a trap?

Cronin’s Crisp style of writing, her adroit crafting of characters and her inspirational tone gleams through out the book. Kindness of Elsie would melt your heart when you read ‘The Scratch Card’ and ‘The Date’ would make you dance despite your age. Jennifer’s positivity and planning is superb while The Nanny took my heart away! It is hard to pick up a favorite story, as all of them tingle some emotional cord. A perfect combination of sour and sweet, I savored this “bowl of cherries,” which has a sprinkle of some lovely poetry. Highly recommended.

***

Finding a Balance by Lauren Scott captures myriad emotions that beseech us to accept whatever life offers and find a balance in tears and happiness. A combination of deep love and yearning, the poems in this collection exude realism, speak of sadness but also offer soothing thoughts. Scott knows that our only choice is to move forward. While we seek answers to our questions, comfort can be found in prayers and hope.

The poems are written in a simple and straight-forward style and are easy to understand. There is a craving to rewrite some unpleasant chapters of life, to open new doors, to brush aside dejections and embrace light. My favorite poem is ‘The Box,’ as “The walls stood bare waiting for memories to dress” evoke memories we cherish. Lovely!

Thank you.
Balroop Singh.