Paperback Pickings

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  • Published 10.03.17

When numbers lie

THE CEO WHO LOST HIS HEAD (Pan, Rs 299) by Aditya Sinha is a murder mystery set in Mumbai. The editor-in-chief of Morning Analysis, Buster Das, is found dead by his secretary. A pair of cops - a man and a woman - Sandesh Solvekar and Mona Ramteke, investigate this case. The book evokes mixed reaction. Ramteke's character has been fleshed out adequately. She is fearless and sharp. Although corrupt, she knows how to get her work done. But the novel lacks balance. Sinha tries to comment on social issues while solving the case. So he takes on the media, the police, the nouveau-riche and actors. Although readers might find the plot interesting initially, it becomes tedious after a while. Sinha is a former journalist. His criticisms of the media make one wonder whether the author has tried to get back at his former employer through his book.

KISSING THE DEMON: THE CREATIVE WRITER'S HANDBOOK (HarperCollins, Rs 350) by Amrita Kumar is the perfect book for aspiring writers. Kumar has been associated with the publishing industry in various capacities for the past 40 years. She uses this experience to guide young writers on how to write a novel and get it published. She talks about plot structure, dialogue writing and narrative style, among other aspects of the art. There is also advise on how to negotiate with the daily difficulties of life while writing one’s book. She lists 10 rules that every writer must follow, including strictures on staying fit and taking care of one’s mind and body. What is noticeable is Kumar’s fondness for citing instances from the lives of famous authors in order to illustrate 
her arguments. It appears as if Kumar has slipped a reading list into the book for her readers.


NUMBERS DO LIE: 61 HIDDEN CRICKET STORIES (Harper Sport, Rs 350) by Impact Index with Aakash Chopra would be a treasured possession of cricket fans. Chopra, one of the co-writers, re-examines the performances of cricketers from across the world in a bid to analyse the reasons for their success on the field. Chopra also discusses the significance of the 'impact index' - a statistical model. He makes use of cold numbers to reassess the career of the players. This, occasionally, leads to interesting findings. For instance he believes that VVS Laxman never got his due for his contributions. Significantly, the numbers also suggest that it is difficult to decide whether Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid had a greater impact on Indian cricket. While ranking players, Chopra puts aside familiar methods. He takes into account the 'average runs per wicket' that could be scored during the time in which a particular batsman was playing and also factors in the difficulties faced by the player while scoring those runs. In conventional cricket rankings, Peter May, the Englishman, is usually allotted the distant 51st slot. But Chopra promotes May up the order, putting him next to the legendary Don Bradman who had a batting average of 99.94 runs.