Trade paperback, 76 pages
Published 2010 (originally 2007)
Acquired December 2015
Read May 2016
by Vandana Singh
This is a slim little volume, less than a hundred pages, written from the perspective of a boy named Arun who wakes up amnesiac after a fire. He has the ability to weave the minds of those around him into a "meta-mind," a group acting as one-- but he can be caught and trapped by minds more powerful than his, and he's also fascinated by the minds he thinks of as solitons, which don't lose their coherence in the presence of a meta-mind. It's a nice little novella: I read my first work by Vandana Singh, The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories, last year, and like the stories in that book, Of Love and Other Monsters has a compelling otherworldly feel, and a strong sense of voice and character. We follow Arun through a number of intimate relationships, some sexual, some romantic, some both, some neither, as well as a series of geographical relocations, from India to the United States, and beyond.
I enjoyed it, but I think I would have like it more if the "meta-mind" idea had actually mattered: we only see Arun do this once, and exactly what it means in practical terms is nebulous, and its role in the story could have been filled by more typical science fiction-style telepathy. The meta-mind seems like a great idea, so I was disappointed that Singh didn't really explore it. Still, a distinctive story by a unique voice, which is what Aqueduct Press's "Conversation Series" volumes exist to promote.