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Word Count: 659
God is in the detailsReal Timeby Amit Chaudhuri184pp PicadorOn page 33 I came across what I reckon to be the first only misplaced word in Amit Chaudhuris brilliant collection of short stories He shoved the trunk carefully beneath the bed Can one shove carefully and even assuming it is not an oxymoron is the adverb required Probably notThat - I mean the shock - is I suppose as good a measure as any of the precision of Chaudhuris writing his ability to conjure up a world out of accumulated seemingly insignificant but in fact artfully chosen detail Description is not done it is woven into the fabric of the story Just as in actual experience there is a sporadic registering of surroundings rather than a deliberate authorial effort to pin them down When the boys are practising disco-dancing on the playing field in Four Days Before the Saturday Night Social a short sharp evocation of the sunlight in the background bouncing and glancing off one hospital window to the next is as much as we need to know about the visual setting and is exactly the selective way a boy might take in his surroundings as he whiled away a hot afternoon outdoors with friendsSimilarly when Jagan is shown to his room in The Man From Khurda District a simple Hemingwayesque sentence - It was a small bare room with sunlight coming through the window and it had a narrow bed - does enough to put us right in the room for the short time the author needs us to be thereIt seems a banal point - the quotes themselves may likewise seem rather ordinary - but then that is the nub of it I dare say Chekhov would not have minded being called a master of the banal And here as with Chekhov or Hemingway the reader not only accepts but relishes the economy because he or she has already been won over
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