Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales by Eleanor Bluestein

Title: Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales
Author: Eleanor Bluestein
ISBN: 9781886157644
Publisher: BkMk Press/2009
Pages: 234

It is collection of ten short stories taking place in a fictitious south Asian country. Ayama Na is totally devastated from an internal coup, drought and corruption at every level. Citizens are trying to cope with the devastations left behind and do their best to rebuild their country where peace seems like an fragile commodity. Land mines still dot it and amputees are all over the place.

Each story deals with some aspect of it in one way or the other. Ordinary people are caught between the traditional values and the rapid spread westernization. Yet each one of them wishes peace, prosperity and growth for their country and would like to contribute toward it in any way they can.

In Pineapple Wars, Koriatt is a Car Salesman, who has left the pineapple fields to work in the city of Pin Dalie. He is fairly successful. His eighty year old father is still alive, living in the pineapple farms, Koriatt and his sister are not ready to take care of him. Koriatt has no wish to get his father to the city and his sister is not ready to live with the father in the village. Both squabble over it. Korriat finds a solution to their dilemma which is shocking...

Hamburger School has school students working in the joint for pocket money or to escape their life at home. AIBO or Love at First Sight has Dali-Roo working in factory that makes robots. He, like most others is forced to work there because of the droughts. His parched fields cannot yield anything. Dali-Roo is obssessed with building a robot for himself and ends up stealing electronic stuff. And his friend helps him not getting caught.

Skin Deep
has an educated girl aspiring to be the Miss Ayama Na. She is prepared for that by her manager but somehow ends up telling the truth on the stage instead of platitudes. The Artist's Story has an one legged prostitute rooting for the artist, who is an American lost in Ayama Na. He does not wish to return to his own country. And somehow has found freedom in a country which seems to be filled with strife.

The Cut the Crap Machine has two playwright collaborating to write a master piece. One is very old and the other is young and arrogant. Yet they need each other. The play is confusing as both try to write scenes in their own ways. In a way it speaks of the dilemma of that modern versus traditional.

The Blanks has a couple from US visiting Ayama Na for sightseeing. Both apparantly can't stand each other and yet cannot live without each other. They are simply not interested to see the country. Their guide has a tough time dealing with them. He knows, their country needs the revenue brought by the tourists. I found A Ruined World most touching of all. It has two sisters who are always fighting. Each has a child, a son and daughter. Those two children are very fond of each other. The Shaman of their tribe discovers a body of a child and summons everyone to watch its cremation. When the younger sister finds out the murderer and the reasons behind it, she is devastated..

North of the Faro has a fortune teller who predictions go wrong. She leaves her home and becomes a wanderer. Only then she can understand her inner compulsions. And finally realises where she has to go. Tea has a seventeen year old girl seeking her brother's support to talk to their father who wishes for her to meet a boy which might lead to marrying that person. Her brother makes her come to a place where they serve tea according to the mood of the customer. She goes there for five days and although her brother doesn't say a word, she understands her own conflicts and is ready to meet the boy.

Each story encapsulates tiny lives. Although fictitious, it could have been in any place like Thailand, Nepal, Singapore or even India. In all those place Traditonal exist with Modern, conflicts are abound and yet we have to find the middle path. The stories are not at all sad or serious. They touch the seriousness of life yet with wit, wisdom and enlightenment. The story do end differently from what we expect.

The author has great imagination, she has made the fictitious place and people come alive. The names are hoots too. Although none of stories are connected in anyway yet there is a connection. Those who wish to read something out of their comfort zone, I would recommend it.

Also reviewed by:


The Bluestocking Society
Nerd’s Eye View
Lotus Reads
1979 Semi-finalist…
Ramya’s Bookshelf
Feminist Review
Trish’s Reading Nook
Savvy Verse and Wit

Watch this place for a guest post and Author Interview with Eleanor Bluestein. Thanks Eleanor for the book!


Beth F said...

I just ordered another book of short stories by Sam Shepard, but I'll keep this in mind for the next time I reach for that genre.

Darlene said...

I've seen a few reviews for this one and it sounds like a good one. I don't often read short stories but every so often I fit one in. Thanks for the review.

Stacy said...

This looks like a good collection. I will have to check it out since I am looking for more short stories to read for a challenge.

Becca said...

I have this one on my tbr list. It looks so good. I am glad that you enjoyed the stories in it.

John Mutford said...

I love being thrown out of my comfort zone. I'll need to read this.

Serena said...

What a great review. I knew you'd like it.

I loved how vivid this imaginary Asian nation seemed.