Getting back to my Halloween reads of 2015, I heard of this title from The Telegraph’s 15 Scary Books to Terrify You This Halloween. A useful list to find horror reads old and new.
When published American poet Robert Luczack accepts an assignment from Tattler magazine to travel to Calcutta to investigate the authenticity of poems by an Indian poet, M Das, thought deceased eight years ago. He doesn’t realise how he is being drawn close to a dangerous and horrifying cult sect of worshippers of the goddess Kali.
Simmons uses the intimidating aspects of the busy city of Calcutta in the mid 70s to give this book a malevolent air and is not original in the use of Kali as an evil entity (think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). However, he uses every intimidating aspect of an alien culture to convey the out of place feeling and intimidation at the base of deep-rooted fear.
I think he may have alienated many Calcuttians after he executed this horror read in his portrayal of the city and its inhabitants. However, you have to bear in mind he wrote this in 1985 about being in Calcutta in 1977. Things change and with time more is understood and accepted about other cultures on the whole.
As a horror read though, this one will definitely give you nightmares as the perceived terrible goddess seeps into your subconscious.
Links to Book:
My uncle, who was neither a sensitive man nor a humane one, went to Calcutta on a business trip during the 1960s and was appalled by what he saw. People were literally left for dead on the street. The experience very badly shook him for a while.
I hear things are a lot better there today.
I was born in Calcutta, both my parents were from there and they immigrated to the UK in 1975. My first trip back was in 1980, I was only 6, but maybe because I was visiting family I just remember how vibrant and exciting I found it. Yes, as I went back through my teens and early adulthood I was acutely aware of issues in the city’s infrastructure, but there has always been so much affection for me associated with the city, I don’t just see the poverty and issues, I think the people there do the best with what they have under very difficult circumstances. My last trip back was in 2005 and I hear things are constantly improving.