To Desire by Vatsal Surti

To Desire

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This debut novella chronicles one man’s experience grappling with life, death, and what it means to form relationships with other people.

Surti’s story centers on an unnamed male narrator, who, at the start of the book, hears of the death of a friend, Meera, whom he’d not seen since high school. This long-distance loss causes him to question the very nature of death and existence—what it means to know and then lose someone, even if that person wasn’t present in one’s everyday life. The author describes the main character’s grappling: “Many dreams break, leaving memories that fade away with time….People disappear, and once they do, every memory of them becomes just a shadow of their existence.” As he philosophizes, he encounters another female character, Sonia, and as he talks to her about his questions, he realizes that she, too, wonders about the same things. Together, they discuss the nature of relationships, what it means to be alone and lonely, and how one can connect with others. Ultimately, Surti’s book has a poetic style. However, it reads more like a long, embellished stream of consciousness than a plotted narrative. The author does express some engaging thoughts about the meaning of life and death: “Facts are intense; they make you forget all experiences….Nothing ceases and everything exists. It brought me here, this moment where I ask myself—what does it mean to love someone?” However, readers may find it hard to follow what he’s actually trying to communicate, as the novella sometimes gets bogged down in overly flowery language: “They were sitting on a couch, looking into each other’s naked eyes. Faces overwhelmed with themselves, eyes filled with a desire for an endless death.”

An overlong, meandering, but sometimes-expressive novella.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2012
Page count: 51pp
Publisher: Hybrid Texts
Program: Kirkus Indie
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