Review Date: May 30th, 2012
An explosive, funny, wildly original fiction debut: nine stories about the power of love and the love of power, two urgent human desires that inevitably; and sometimes calamitously, intertwine. In I Am an Executioner, Rajesh Parameswaran introduces us to a cast of heroes — and anti-heroes — who spring from his riotous, singular imagination. From the lovesick tiger who narrates the unforgettable opener, “The Infamous Bengal Ming” (he mauls his zookeeper out of affection), to the ex-CompUSA employee who masquerades as a doctor; from a railroad manager in a turn-of-the-century Indian village, to an elephant writing her autobiography; from a woman whose Thanksgiving preparations put her husband to eternal rest, to the newlywed executioner of the title, these characters inhabit a marvelous region between desire and death, playfulness and violence.
At once glittering and savage, daring and elegant, here are wholly unforgettable tales where reality loops in Borgesian twists and shines with cinematic exuberance, by an author who promises to dazzle the universe of American Fiction
This collection is, in two words, dark and deep, but it was satisfying and surprising, at times disturbing and challenging, and affirms my belief that it is wise to read widely — to take chances, to embrace the unfamiliar — because I am continually rewarded with unique storytelling and a glimpse into other cultures like I was with this.
The Infamous Bengal Ming
Told from the point-of-view of a tiger, this great opening story — and all its delicious tension — had me holding my breath, my heart racing, turning the pages with dread and anticipation at 2 in the morning.
The Strange Career of Dr. Raju Gopalarajan
Darkly intriguing anti-hero story with an almost-tragicly-romantic twist.
While I found the main character of this story to be unlikeable, I also found the interruptions and discourse of writer and character to be humorous, and ultimately, found the story to be wonderfully complex — leaving me thinking on it, and growing steadily more appreciative of it each time I did, well after I’d read it.
I Am an Executioner
My favorite aspect of this story was the voice — disarming and unusual — which made me really connect to and root for this character who, I’m quite certain, I would otherwise not have liked.
By far one of my favorite stories in the collection, this, to me, was the first one that really felt like a love love story — and though it was strange and sad, it was a beautiful tale.
Narrative of Agent 97-4702
This one is mysterious, but its kind of perfect in that way, because its open to interpretation, yet at the same time, there’s a feeling that the conclusion has been inferred within the story.
Bibhutibhushan Mallik’s Final Storyboard
A tale of the love and struggle and relationships of an artist that had me fearing the worst and hoping for the best and being surprised by the depth of what I got in the end.
Elephants in Captivity (Part One)
A unique tale that can be read in two depths, as half the story is written in footnotes, and feels at once real and true yet also the fruit of a wild and twisted imagination.
On the Banks of Table River (Planet Lucina, Andromeda Galaxy, AD 2319)
The showcase of familial love set in a sci-fi world, this story is strange, deep, and beautiful.
The one clear thing I can say about Wednesday, the worst and most amazing day of my life, is this: it started out beautifully.
- And once I realized I loved Kitch, everything else in the world seemed to make so much perfect indescribable nonsensical sense.
- The home shore had disappeared from sight, and what had appeared as infinite promise became instead a terrifying endlessness, a lovely, crushing isolation of two selves in the world.
- When people talk about Manju and her husband and what they did and what happened to them, they should try to remember that people have depths.
- I felt something collapse inside me, as if a heavy stone had tumbled from a chamber in my heart, to land with a thud in my stomach.
- …how people so close to us can become so unreachable, how people unreachable can feel so close: there’s your paradox…
- To my ears, Margaret’s voice was like a small box within pink wrapping papers.
- …human being’s heart has capable of great and terrible passions. Who can explanate? It’s my lot in life, to witness it in a daily basis.
- So I had only to execution that simple girl some days hence, no questions could be asked. But did this lead me to conscience-pangs and depressions? Nothing could be further off from true. I reminded to myself: If the deathrow prison is a good place for me to work my days, then it must be a good place for little girls to stay, isn’t it so? Even when fate will happen shortly, life is the life, whether in prison cells or sunshiny hillsides, and I provide the good careful honest execution and its a good thing for all the concerned. I tell no lies, I am the good friend to them, and sometimes they are even thanking me.
- …Savitri felt fear creep into her lungs like smoke.
- …Whatever a person is thinking or saying at a given moment becomes reality if at the same moment the demons happen to utter that magical word.
- …like any child, I had fantasized about being asked to join the Agency. I’d never imagined it could be more realistic than any other childhood fantasy, like becoming an astronaut or marrying a prince.
- …someone with whom I am soul-catchingly in love.
- Nirmala Sen possesses the profound knowledge that all monuments and pleasures in life are brief; she has the perspective, in other words, of a woman who has suffered.
- Elephants are one of those rare species (along with humans and dolphins) known to recognize their reflections in mirrorsas reflections. Self-consciously reflective (you might say), they see themselves as discrete individuals.
- …who grew into a remarkable creature. I created something bound to exceed me — I have known her from birth, yet I have no idea of what she is capable — and something bound to frustrate me, for no other being is capable of causing me so much worry and pain.
Think of life as a story. Each one must come to an end, for it to have form and meaning. What gives life to the stories are the bodies at the end of them.
- [she] is a stubborn being, but she has taught me to be the same.
Find this review helpful?
Clicking an affiliate link below helps to support our site and continue to bring you quality reviews! Learn More