Saturday, February 17, 2007

One Night@ The Call Center -- a review

When you feel the urge to read a quick story with no morals, you tend to pick up books like these.
I had read this author's Five Point Someone a few months ago and thought I had a book that guarenteed a no-preachy story. I will not berate this book. I have wasted my time in the past with worse books. But...

The book is a story about a night at the call center with six people (I could not come up with a more original line -- you dont need to read this review to know that, the book's title states that !)The book tries to drag you into the arena that is a "call-center". You come out dazed. Time seems to have frozen for the author and the six characters in the book. I never thought so many things could happen in one night -- but then what do I know about call-centers or about writing books !
The story is told in first person through the eyes of one of the "voice-agents" Shyam. Each character has a past that somehow does not add up to their view of a "good-life". We have a girl who has just said "Yes" to a NRI marriage proposal, a married lady who has left the free life to be part of her husband and his orthodox parents, a bike-loving kiddo who hates "racists and Americans", a prospective model who spends her day-time looking for contracts and a I-am-no-good whiner who seems to be losing more self-respect each passing minute.

The story rumbles along. It is funny at times. But there are also phases where you just find it too fantastic to be believable. The schemes that the kids hatch towards the end are almost out of a hollywood movie (you remember Swordfish -- where our protagonist hacks into government systems by painting pictures on the screen ? He is furiously typing away without so much as looking at the keyboard his eyes fixated at the monitor where somehow strange images are expected to show his success rates !)
The book gets all preachy sometimes -- there is the ranting against the "dumb-Americans", there is the nag of "an entire generation up all night serving dumb Americans". You would thing you were watching CNN-IBN's Face The Nation (if you did not know, this is the programme where psuedo-thinkers waste your time with obvious comments and obervations on various aspects of life)

Any modicum of interest in the story is probably due to the fact that it is about 5 young people -- the issues are more identifiable. The characters are sketched adequately. The dialogues are believable. Where the book loses its ground is towards the end. The last 50-60 pages could have been replaced with a bollywood movie and a Stephen Covey book.

But read it..everyone needs to be preached to every now and then. It apparently took the author two years to write the book, it took me two hours to read it and 20 minutes to write a review. That should give you an idea of the emotional depth of the book (or the intellectual depth of this reviewer !)