Heavy on style

Written by Ivinder Gill | Updated: Jul 1 2013, 00:29am hrs
The citation at the back of A Pleasant Kind of Heavy, by Khushwant Singh, says the stories burn up the pages; that the book is more erotic than the Kamasutra.

While I have not read the Kamasutra, and hence have no basis for comparison, I do agree that the stories, indeed, do burn up the pages. But then, so did Fifty Shades of Grey, and to some extent, its subsequent spin-offs by the likes of Sylvia Day.

What makes this book on erotic stories, especially by an anonymous Indian writer, a subject for review, is the refreshing prose one encounters, plus the fact that the stories, instead of exploring relationships, as found in most romantic/erotic pieces of writing, are an unabashed exploration of the human body. The sensuality oozes not from dialogue (there is barely any in the entire set of stories) or inter-personal encounters, as one would expect, but more from thoughts and translation of these thoughts into behaviour, with the human body, most often the protagonists own, as a tool.

Aranyanis characters, it seems, think of nothing else but pleasures of the body. The writer finds eroticism even in a kitchen, where hot and sweaty women are busy cooking for a lunch party. The heaving bosoms, moving rolls of flesh, the odours...all cook up erotica. One protagonist finds pleasure even from the folds of a saree brushing rhythmically against her. Another romanticises an otherwise painful waxing session. Boundaries of gender are blurred and all inhibitions lost as people swing between homosexuality and heterosexuality. What even the non-prudent might wrinkle up their noses at, is relished with pleasure. And while some may argue that the stories are merely porn, which in a sense they are, what makes them so readable are Aranyanis exploration of words, sentences and references used to describe thingsso fresh, so new and so unlike what one might expect. What makes Aranyanis stories a feat is that she manages to mate the impossiblesex and sophistication. Primal urges, thoughts and behaviour are strung together in stylised sentences, which make the book a cut above the rest when it comes to writing on erotica.

Now for the not-so-impressive part. Most stories are threadbare, some barely there. For instance, at least I failed to grasp A nice, polite girl. A touch of sun is a few sexual encounters and nothing more. And while Leaving broken bridge startles with its open admission and display of homosexuality, it leads nowhere. But weighed against the brilliant prose, use of the writers licence is forgiven.