It’s almost the weekend and the best time to read a good book, cuddled in a warm blanket with a hot cup of coffee to go with it. Here is a book I picked up to kick start this year’s reading. Small Towns, Big Stories is a collection of twenty-one stories by Ruskin Bond. Stories with a similar theme, they speak of little hamlets, of the wilderness, of people and places. A few of these stories have been published earlier in various books. But well, it is the Bond factor, and re-reading them is always a pleasure! It’s the simplicity in his writing, well expressed thoughts, vivid descriptions on nature and emotions, which strike a chord almost always.
“Small towns may be smaller than cities, and there may be fewer people living in them, but the stories they provide a writer with are big, they contain worlds upon worlds within them”- Ruskin Bond.
Bond has lived for years in Landour and Mussorie. The hills serve as an inspiration and form the backdrop of most of his stories. Small Towns, Big Stories is the finest of stories of towns, of people unknown and places unheard. Straight from the heart, Bond sketches the unpredictability of life, shades of human nature, and the colors of nature amidst this.
The compilation includes some of his earlier works such as The Big Race, The Visitor, and the most popular The Night Train at Deoli. These stories have been written by Bond in his early twenties. It also comprises of some fresh ones, that haven’t been published before. Stories well narrated, in true Bond style, they are a pleasure to read. Bond’s writing does have a predictable pattern. But I feel this is his strength. His stories are always maintained simple. The compilation has variety. From speaking about the ghosts of the hill stations and haunted houses, Bond also takes you on a mesmerizing journey to Kipling’s Shimla. He gives a glimpse of the sensational crimes a little town could witness and, what elections and voting could mean to a small place such as Barlowganj.
His story telling is magical and surely unmatched. There are experiences and vibrant characters from daily life, of tiny mountain settlements and of fictitious towns such as Shamli and Deoli. These fictitious towns got me thinking, making me wonder what really lies behind the walls of those small railway stations that I come across on long journeys. The station master in a small little room, peeping occasionally to check if all is right, women in colorful sarees with veiled faces, and slow trains that chug along.
A beautiful compilation, this book is a total weekend detox! Small Towns, Big Stories, is a must for Ruskin Bond lovers, and for those who love reading good prose.
*The book is available on Amazon in hardbound as well as in Kindle format.
Other books by Ruskin Bond