Excerpt of a review of EROTEXT desire, disease, delusion, dream, downpour by SUDEEP SEN ( Random House India 2016) published in the wagon magazine 2017 April -By Dr.Vyjayanthi

Can we judge a book by its cover? Especially if the cover is carrying comments by the “who is who” from various professional walks of life. Being a psychiatrist and a poet, I was enticed to read the book as the title refers to Eros as an overarching theme that takes within its fold the sub themes of desire, disease, delusion, dream and downpour. The five ‘D’s intrigued me and I kept returning to them as if they were the epicenter of an earthquake. And then there were the twin chairs of the cover photograph – perhaps a symbol of duality, of ‘Eros’ + ‘Text’? Truly, if life could write itself, this is how it may read, not bound by a specific structure, word count or rhyme or reason. Insights are graded along six parameters while we study psycho pathology, although Eros is where life originates and Thanatos is the force of death. Opposites contain each other and there are flashes of dying in the section of disease of the body, explored in skeleton, joints, temperature, fluids, breaths, and blood.

In ‘Magnetizing Dead Bones’, a disturbing portrayal of the Intensive Care Unit and the experience of what may remain even after death, just the clean bones? Interestingly it seems to refer to Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a sort of literal meaning ascribed to scientific jargon. Electrocardiography- “A person in the room can sense electricity, invisible photons”, again ‘ultra-sonography’ is mystified in fleeting allusions to sound waves. There is whispering vulnerability, “What can I create despite this urgency…Nothing really, certainly nothing that is worth any effort….” The body is minimized and life is trivialized: “They say imagination can conquer anything even the body. It isn’t true.” There is a relentless search for meaning even as the body suffers: “The lyrics, if they are meant to, will emerge at the vanishing point”. Humanizing the near death experience is a strong effort in this flash fiction. The words are profound as they equate creativity to something that lives after death. I was reminded of Bessel Vander Kolk’s book Body Keeps Its Own Scores in the reference to ash, bone ash and the abrupt escape into bone-drafts of metered text. Starch and the nurse trying to induce a lullaby, the power of breathing, and virility of ash are images foretelling life amidst death. The ecosystem of the hospital dominates the disease in this fiction, a hesitation to explore the disease or a story of hope- open ended, it lends itself to interpretations like a poem or a dream.

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