BOOK REVIEW: The existential enigma


Mountain Incantations is an anthology of short stories’ by Thorong-La nom de plume of Prakash Thapa Magar. Try as I might though, I am hard put to classify it either as a work of fact or fiction — or a hodge-podge of both. And nor am I able to fathom the book’s putative intent.

Does the author sincerely believe his hastily put together memoir (again, a dead reckoning here) serves any important purpose in depicting “the contemporary themes of, inter alia, Buddhism, love and the eternal quest of truth”?

The author discusses the futility of earthly love, decadent urban materialism and meaninglessness of life. The stories echo Buddha’s message of the wretchedness of temporal existence and emancipation through renunciation of worldly yearnings.

But Thorong-La tries too hard to get his message across — or does he? His sincere efforts to explore the purpose and meaning of human life are seriously marred by his inability, or the unwillingness, to go beyond the skin-deep and uncover the underpinnings of human sentiments. There is only so much one can read between the lines!

On the other hand, where the narrative should have been left alone to take its natural course, the author’s cussed attempts to drive home his points trample on the reader’s freedom as a detached arbiter of a work of art.

Constantly flitting his characters in and out rather than allowing them the time to develop; the almost visceral urge to end a narrative when it’s not so much as brushed against the veneer of human consciousness; the total disregard of any timeframe — regrettably, they all make for bland storytelling.