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I Am an Executioner: Love Stories (2013)

by Rajesh Parameswaran

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English (5)  Dutch (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 5 of 5
2.5 stars

This bookclub book was a bit like most Aronofsky movies--I'm glad I read it, and I have no desire to read it again.

This is a collection of nine stories told from various perpectives. The opening story, for example, is told from the view of a Bengal tiger who is in love with its keeper. Others include a train stationmaster in India, a housewife in California, an elephant recalling its childhood, an Indian man pretending to be a doctor, a spy for a mysterious organization, a film production designer, an alien on a different planet, and the title character, an executioner in India.

First, this is a book not meant for an e-reader: The elephant story has copious footnotes, which I couldn't read as I was going along. The story really suffers because of this.

That said, the writing was mostly beautiful, even when it was describing a horrific event. Parameswaran has a gift for sneaking things past the reader--his detached writing style has you sailing along, when suddenly you realize he's talking about the death of an infant, the butchering of a patient, or the betrayal of a trusted one. A real punch to the gut in places.

I had trouble with the content of some of the stories--I just didn't want to read about some of the happenings, most of which concerned death. (Duh, given the title of the book.) Others will probably not be affected to the extent I was.

( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
I couldn't even finish this book. The short stories were all wildly depressing and centered on death and destruction and twisted relationships, haunting and eerie without revealing any truth or beauty. If you like startlingly macabre thinking stories, this will probably be just the thing for you, but for me, It just brought on horrible feelings and I figured my life would be better without it. ( )
  millieanne | May 19, 2013 |
This is a tough review to write. This collection of short stories is well worth reading, yet inconsistent in quality. There are fabulous characters, including a tiger as narrator, a man masquerading as a physician, an elephant and a boy who speaks "Engliphant", an alienated immigrant, and more. The plots are distinct yet connected by the thread of what it means to be an animal....human or otherwise. Warning...not an uplifting, upbeat collection; rather an intense and thought-provoking collection. This is a debut collection and I am definitely interested to see where this writer goes with his talents from here! ( )
  hemlokgang | Jul 20, 2012 |
I received this book as part of a lovely surprise collection from Bloomsbury and jumped into it straight away as my daily public transport read. I don’t mind reading short stories in this way as I can generally get a story finished in one or two trips. Some of these stories took a little longer as they are incredibly powerful and demand reflection!

You may be wondering why this book is called I Am an Executioner Love Stories – surely that’s incorrect? But no, that kind of juxtaposition is exactly what you get with these stories – they are stories of love, yet sometimes with death involved. The first story, The Infamous Bengal Ming is about a tiger who suddenly realises his love for his keeper – and kills him. I Am an Executioner deals with the sometimes difficult marriage of the chief executioner. Demons looks at why a wife leaves her dead husband on the floor and goes to a party. The final story, On the Banks of Table River (Planet Lucina, Andromeda Galaxy, AD 2319) deals with sex leading to death in another lifeform. Are the two events so entwined? Parameswaran deals with their linkage in many different situations.

I must admit that sometimes I found these stories overwhelming with the emotions they made me feel and the questions I thought about while reading – in the case of the tiger, is killing your lover the utmost sign of love? Is pretending to be someone you aren’t a betrayal if you do it correctly? In the case of the secret agent, how much do you hide from your partner and how far will you go to break the rules? These stories hide big life questions behind the narrative.

Parameswaran certainly knows how to pack a literary punch in a short amount of words. His use of language to create setting and character makes even faraway planet life sound believable (and I’m normally not one for science fiction). In addition, I really did believe that a tiger and an elephant were telling me their stories! I admire the author for creating the believable from the not so believable. Unique and captivating.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
1 vote birdsam0610 | Jun 17, 2012 |
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voor mijn ouders en mijn broer
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Eén ding weet ik heel precies over woensdag, de slechtste en meest verbazingwekkende dag van mijn leven, en dat is dit: hij begon prachtig.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307595927, Hardcover)

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 antiheroes—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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:56 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"An explosive fiction debut from an astonishing new voice: darkly funny, wildly original stories about the power of love, and the love of power--two urgent human desires that inevitably, and often calamitously, intertwine. The unforgettable opener, "The Infamous Bengal Ming," is narrated by a misunderstood tiger whose affection for his keeper goes horribly awry. In "Demons," a woman tries to celebrate Thanksgiving after the sudden death of her husband, even though his corpse is still sprawled on their living-room floor. In "The Strange Career of Dr. Raju Gopalarajan," an ex-CompUSA employee sets up a medical practice in a suburban strip mall armed only with textbooks from the local library and fake business cards. The heroes--and anti-heroes--of I Am An Executioner include a railroad manager in a turn-of-the-century Indian village, the newlywed executioner of the title, and an elephant writing her autobiography--the creations of a riotous, singular imagination that promises to dazzle the universe of American fiction"--… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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