Lost Men (Genre: Fiction) By Rajorshi Chakraborti
Contrary to the common construct of short stories wherein the plots get tied up neatly at the end, in Lost Men, a collection of nine short stories and a novella, Chakraborti pulls us his characters out of their comfort zones. He creates the plot full of twists and turns leaving it onto us to draw our own conclusions.
The nine stories are different, yet they have a common thread—each character seems lost as they cope with other emotions: anxiety, guilt, fear, loss, etc.
The titular short story, Lost Men, is about a man trying to come to terms with his wife’s death. He attempts to escape the harsh reality by changing the outcome in a dream. The first story, Knock Knock, starts with a pesky bank agent chasing after a couple. The bank agent wants to get the couple’s signatures as part of the account opening formalities. The story gains pace, and then everything explodes. The Good Boy deals with closure following a friend’s suicide. “The Last Time I Tried to Leave Home” is about an innocent detour gone wrong. Half an Hour also portrays peculiar circumstances. City Lights is steeped in nostalgia. Viju’s Version is about a man whose aims are foiled by bad luck.
Contemporary theme with Intercontinental experiences
The novella, Down to Experience, is set in the 1940s but is relevant even today. It deals with conflicts, trust, different ideologies, and destinies. Chakraborti’s stories reflect his ‘intercontinental’ experiences (He was born in Kolkata, grew up in Mumbai, and lived in Canada, England, Scotland, and New Zealand). He uses dark humor and philosophy and imparts grey shades to his characters. The real-life premises make the stories relatable.
The book is edgy and gripping but not in the same way as a whodunit page-turner. It is an intense read, and certain portions make us ponder and reflect. It is recommended for those who want to read something different!