Adventurous and glamorous things might happen to everyone. They happen to all of us although sometimes we just don't realize.
“Just think of the color and vivacity that love can bring back into your life. You know, they say there are seventeen shades of love!”
“Seventeen shades?” Julia sobbed even louder. “What am I supposed to do with that?”
(A quote from the story with the same title as this book)
This book is a collaboration with artist Larissa Makeeva. Her fascinating art helps to color up the narrative and the characters in charming bright tones.
Available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. Also on Audiobook (Russian edition only).
Modern art is often scoffed at. There are many just don’t get it - the unrestrained translation of mind in our visible space. The others have no way to prove they do. They are just smitten by the work, not necessarily because they agree with the objective but because they appreciate the artist’s acknowledgement of a free flowing mind. I am the appreciator. Olga Toprover is the artist.
Seventeen shades of love begins with a most oh-so-typical fantasy sequence from a woman who falls for a stranger at a gas station. It turns out to be a dream. What follows is a first drift of this artwork, as the girl who had been craving for some hormonal re-ignition in life gets upset when she finally finds it. For her, it signifies the loss of rare freedom she’d been enjoying from the traps of illogical love. The author’s magic really only comes forth towards the end of that first chapter, with a trivial foam sticking out of a certain driver’s seat making all the difference. The end result is amusement. And that effect is sustained throughout the rest of the book.
Ms. Toprover spends the first two chapters acclimatising us to her work. She only starts to unfold it thereafter. So, what kind of art is it? It is vacuous swish of blue paint which changes shades as it runs in such a way that viewers are compelled to anticipate its transition to a new colour. But blue remains blue. All that changes is a realization that the elusive second colour was present throughout as the colour white in the background. As is described for one of the characters in the story - a little girl - the author paints not just the world as it is, but the emotions behind everything.
Seventeen shades of love that we see through each little story in this book are all distinct in their settings. Yet, it is interesting how much they share in common. They are all narrations of protagonists - mostly women - battling a difficult memory, coming to terms with novel situations and beginnings, an unending fusion of what-ifs and why-nots, failed attempts at justifications, denial of an unflinching hope, and a silent, eternally insurmountable build-up of a mountain of emotions that evaporate in one moment of surprise. Love, as the author shows us, is just an approach we take to life. It is illogical, on the face of our social demeanour, and a reflection of who we actually are - which is perhaps why we can never transform it into words or thoughts with utter clarity. Personally, I find it sad. The author’s acknowledgement of this condition as it is, without pretence or explanations, is precisely what is best about this book.
The writing, translated into English, is without complications. That says a lot, for most of the story is a 1st person narrative of conflicting thoughts. This inevitably brings in a lot of abstracts - an essential ingredient. For instance, “Who said the sky over Canada is bluer? If that were the case she might have formed some slightly more intelligent thoughts.” Olga Toprover reminds me of Woody Allen. Her Pièce De Résistance comes right in the end with short scripts of life in Calfiornia - poppable candies of momentary hullabaloo in the author’s experiences of day-to-day life. Loved the one with a phone call to customer care.
The thing with an artistic expression is that its interpretation is left to the observers. Consequently, I can only guess as to the author’s primary incentive. To think of it, that itself may be one! So read this book to deduce your psyche in matters of love and people.
Book Review by The Fly
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