Book: Horseshoe Garage
Racing! This is what this 350+ pages book is all about. But before you write it off as just another book about underdog winnings and sundry, sit up and take note. It’s not about any automobile racing page turner. It’s about Neo-Racing; a concept which not only demands a fast car but also a radical innovation in terms of design. Neo-racing had always been Sarvesh Kulkarni’s dream right from the time he could understand what a car does. A buff like him only needed a crutch to further his dream. This is where Rajendra Allyavaram Gopal Sridharan, or, Rags, comes in. They’re friends and the stronghold for their friendship and companionship is the unquenchable thirst to participate, and win of course, the Neo Racing championship.
The catch? India isn’t yet on the parent company’s radar to introduce the race format yet.
So it was like a long playing dream sequence when Sarvesh, or Sav, reads the newspaper one July morning and finds out that the gates of heaven have finally been opened to the humble Indians. Thus begins their journey to the world of high speed action and breath-taking cornering with a splash of glamour. Although Sarvesh has thought of nothing but this since his childhood and has also saved enough money to take initial steps into the world he has dreamt of, it turned out quite unlike a walk in the park he thought it would be. He works for Grant Motors which coincidentally happens to be a fully owned subsidiary of the company whose car is the reigning champion in Neo Racing.
That not only means that his dream will not have their financial backing but it also means that he’ll have to leave the job to enter as an individual. If that wasn’t enough the guidelines of the entrance made it a sure shot downer. Any entry which does not have a requisite number of members in their team will be rejected. Sarvesh has only Rajendra as a member. Since Neo Racing has been the Holy Grail for them, the design for their potential car is ready. All they need is the members who will help them build it from scratch.
The book has 4 main characters. Sarvesh, Rajendra, Kam (Rajendra’s girlfriend) and Naaz; the remainder of the characters make up the core team for the event. Kam is the typical bimbo; good looking and “apparently” brainless. We see a turnaround in her behaviour half-way through and come to respect her for her honesty and innocence. Kam initially has misgiving about having Naaz in the team but later does a total turnaround. But then, Naaz is such a character!
The review would be incomplete without spending a few minutes writing about her. She was an orphan who worked near a garage at a tea shop as a kid and was called Lata. When the garage owner adopter her, as he was a Muslim, he named her Naaz Shaikh. She is the wonder woman in a jumpsuit. She is the one who tells Sarvesh and Rajendra that their initial car design will not be accepted because it wasn’t new as it was used in Neo racing previously, all this by only checking out their design for 2 minutes. If Sav and Rags are the ones with the finance then Naaz is the one with the car’s prototype in her head. More than once when the team is pushed away by lady luck, and sometimes, from the very threshold of their destiny they’re pulled back up into action by the brainchild of Naaz. She works tirelessly and hardest. So much is her contribution that Kam changes the very name of the team! Their team is initially called “The Crusader” and, after Kam intervenes, they settle for NLS. Naaz Lata Shaikh!
The characters of Sarvesh and Rajendra are acceptable although they are pretty hackneyed. Rajendra keeps saying “…but it’s neo-fucking-racing, Sav” which drove me up the wall! Kam is the surprise that the author dishes out a little every time she makes an appearance. The storyline of the book is pretty straight forwards, all replete with hairpin bends and surprising yellow flags that keep the pages turning. I wouldn’t call it a page turner thriller but it keeps you engrossed and keeps you moving and does that within an acceptable range.
There are a couple of things that stick out and give this icky feeling though. Towards the end I got this distinct feeling of the author getting thrifty. The end is hurried and it seems like the author is trying very hard to keep it within a pre-determined word count and it stares you in the face because of the way the tempo was built and how it ends. It doesn’t fizzle out but I would say that it was a hurried climax. The time spent on the “act” is not comparable to the time spent in the “process”. There are many twists in the story but the author could’ve chewed upon them a little more.
Another peeve of mine was the usage of short names: Sav for Sarvesh; Rags for Rajendra; Jags for Jagdish etc. It was irksome because it seemed like an attempt to anglicize very common and normal Indian names. Although, in reality it is not uncommon to see people do this it still is something that can be overlooked.
The overall experience was pleasant and hopeful. The writer has done a decent job and deserves a pat on the back.
NOTE: Horseshoe Garage was sent to us for reviewing by the publishers Leadstart Publishing!