Ruskin Bond

Book: Collected Fiction
Author: Ruskin Bond
Rating: 4 stars
Price: Rs. 395
Publishers: Penguin

Couple of months back, I bought a book written by Ruskin Bond titled “Ruskin Bond: Collected Fiction”. Ruskin Bond, from what I know, is an author who is known to all the Indians but only occasionally do you find people who have read his works. Browsing thought the shelves in Odyssey, Adyar in Chennai, I happen to notice the thick book (900 pages). It has about 75 short stories and 5 novel/novellas. Having read a handful of stories, the book looked promising enough to give me a good time. Sure it did.

In one of my previous posts, this is what i had to say about the stories:
“Yesterday, I was going through some of the short stories of Ruskin Bond which are set on rural India. The mundane background which every Indian can connect to, in his stories, takes you into times and minds of the characters. His stories revolve around serendipitous encounters which leave a lasting impression…… The stories narrate about a chanced meeting with a stranger, finding something that fascinates him about the stranger, and in many cases the stranger is lost in the wilderness of the crowd. Anything could fascinate the narrator, from a coy smile of a little girl to benevolence of a thief.”

One word that describes his language is ‘simple’. One can effortlessly run through the pages without having to look into dictionary or pause to digest a paragraph. The hold in the language is quite apparent when you notice that stories take you into imaginations without much difficulty. One thing that he does the best is describe nature. Any reader will be baffled by his description which can boast of mind blowing personifications, metaphors and attention grasping words. Most of his stories lie around jungles, ravines, hillocks and many of gods creatures, big or small.

Many-a-times narrated in first person, the central theme of the stories is usually held by a young boy yet to be 10, or an adolescent. A child’s simple pleasures like running along a stream, watching a sunset, observing a tree tremble against gusty winds are all magically brought back to life even as we live in this material world. I shouldn’t deny the fact that all of his stories remind us to get back the excitement packed inner child in us and rediscover those simple pleasures. Some of his stories capture the youthful enthusiasm in adolescence, the desire to unravel the mysteries that lie behind the obvious. In an otherwise dull train journey, the main character, in some of his stories, decides to take a stroll outside the bound of the railway station of a forsaken village. The discovery of life and other means of livelihood brings as mush amusement to the readers as the character himself. When speaking of Ruskin Bond, ghost stories can’t be left behind. The chilling stories are sure leave you stunned for quite a while. My favorite story in the entire collection happens to be a ghost story called, ‘face in the dark.’

The collection also features two novellas called ‘Room on the Roof’ and, its sequel, ‘Vagrants in the Valley’. Based on similar genre described above, this can be seen as several short stories put together. The plot starts with a young adolescent, Rusty, escape from the stifling atmosphere of his Anglo Indian guardian. Out of the cage, he meets some Indian friends when he start indulging in their lives, tastes his first Gol-Guppa among lot of other things. The story blossoms into Rusty inching towards forming his goals. ‘Vagrants in the Valley’ picks off right where ‘Room on the Roof’ left off. Along with his friend Kishan, Rusty travels in the pains of the north India leaving a lasting impression on the reader’s minds.

I personally did not like the other three novellas written by him named Delhi is not Far, Sensualist and A Flight of Pigeons. They were based on completely different genres. A flight of pigeons narrates a story of young English girl during 1857 mutiny. In Delhi is not Far, narrator describes his relationship with a streetwise and a prostitute. Sensualist talks of an old man’s exploits of all kinds.

Short Stories that should be eagerly looked forwarded to be read are: the eyes have it, Sita and the river, time stops at Shamli, the haunted bicycle, escape from Java and many others. The final verdict: this book would make a great birthday gift to 12-15 year olds.

13 Replies to “Ruskin Bond”

  1. My personnal favourite is the one about Deoli(atleast I think that was the name of the station..). He is a very good writer!

    Nice review:)

  2. nice review. i like is writings. i hope i can borrow the book once u come back to insti.

  3. will the take book from u in bang…the review seems to be promising
    btw – try out some of hemingway’s books. u might like his style as well..

  4. Your post reminds me of the first time one was exposed to Ruskin Bond’s writing, way back in 7th standard we had this as part of English Prose a collection of short stories called ‘Garden of Memories’. This was what they called non-detailed.Never missed RB from that time.

    Your right, his ghost stories freak you out. All his ghosts emerge from the dehra valley and other hill stations that he used to stay in and write.

    Night Train from Deoli is a personal favourite – all his children stories are collectors stuff.

    wonderful read !!

  5. Hi Shankar,

    That was a nice post about Ruskin. I got the opportunity to meet him in Mumbai last year, and exchanged a few words with him. His books, from A Writer’s Life, The Lamp is lit, to the rest stand on the strength of his ability to turn the seemingly mundane into passages that stir to life.

    I’ve enjoyed his writings since the time I discovered reading all over again.

  6. @bofi
    that’s a lovely story too.
    remind me
    i think you are talking about woman on platform 8, cbse course A, 9th standard
    he is amazing, you are lucky to have met him.

  7. hi
    well dude nice review and about ruskin fav. author..almost read most of his stuff but few novels u didn’t liked are no doubt different from his genre…but still have the capacity to hold on to reader…i ll say they r also nice…this book u r talkin about is a must hv for every bond fan
    keep smiling

  8. Nice post. Incidently I read a book of Bond’s as a part of my curriculum in school- the one that featured the now famous Rusty. It was a great read and I even had the lucky chance to hear him read an excerpt from one of his books and hear him field otherwise nosy queries with conssumate ease. Though, I wish I could get my hands on more of his works .

  9. came across your blog. i love his short stories. hence the psuedonym. Time stops at Shamli is my favourite. Nice post.

  10. I love “Face in the dark” too.. read it when I was 12 or something.. still remember and relish it vividly.

  11. i luv ruskin bond as a writer ………………..wat writin wid simplicity and beautifully potrayed…wish i culd meet him 2 tell him this…

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