A storyteller with keen imagination and startling turns of phrase, a nuanced grasp of human bondage and knifelike measure of love
The Flying Man
By By Roopa Farooki
Headline Review | Pages: 352 | Rs. 499
A tale of appetite, chutzpah, cowardice and freefall, starring msk, ‘international man of mystery’, equal parts dilettante gambler, charming swindler and aesthete, who luxuriates in the adage carpe diem and ‘likes the fact that in French, the word for greedy isn’t the slightest bit pejorative’. His catch-me-if-you-can games leave you breathless, trapeze acts across continents spin you a brief history of the world, and though his self-centred cruelty—thoughtless and intended—has you seething, it’s his lust for life that thrills. It leavens his pursuit of freedom and pleasure too, each time he blithely assumes and sheds personas (attendant wives and children too, who add emotional intensity).
Farooki references Icarus, Wilde and Peter Pan to chart the trajectory of a man in flight (partly inspired by Farooki’s father, ‘compelled to make things interesting as gamblers do’)—the soaring and the falling, the running and the corralling. So if there’s audacity in the enterprise he makes of life, there’s an appalling, appealing, indecency in it too. And heartbreak, particularly in the indignity of the ‘banal conclusion’: refusing to grow up, he grows old, more alone than free.
An operatic, tender and dry-eyed treatment of the runaway impulse, of abandonment, of love’s inadequacy, by a storyteller with keen imagination and startling turns of phrase, a nuanced grasp of human bondage and knifelike measure of love (described as ‘A hard, shining fact...like pearls of teeth set in gums, vulnerable and vicious all at once’).