Every book is written by a writer who delved into the deepest parts of themselves to bring out a story that others could get inspired from, relate to or at least remember for the rest of their lives. The relatability of a book, its impact on the readers mind and whether or not it leaves a deep imprint, depends on the art of storytelling.
The Merchant of Stories is a book which uses varied narrative techniques to spellbind the readers. From third person narrative where the narrator appears to be sitting in a cosy room with a cup of tea in hand, to talking about the philosophy of life to the pages of one’s diary – intimate and very very personal; Dipa ensures that the readers get a true peak into her mind.
“Welcome to Chicago. A city where the wind is angry enough to knock you off your feet. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a thrashing. It was seriously brutal.”
Our mind works in absurd ways. Sometimes, we think in abstract thoughts where the mind is not filled with words but images and memories and flashes from things that we have seen or what we imagine. Between the folds of the pages of this book, I found the similar imagery getting reflected when the author talked about her childhood memories or the roots that she felt connected to. It was in the description of the places she travelled to, that I could hear even the sound of the surroundings. To create such a vivid picture in the readers mind requires the fine craft of storytelling.
Weaving a Tale – Both Personal and Inspirational
When the book began, I already knew that it was non-fiction and the author would be using her experiences to build on the narrative. But the way it was done, made me more interested in the writing than the story. I know, you are going to think that it defeats the entire point of reading a book. But that’s not true. Some books you appreciate for the characters in it, some books for the memorable quotes they leave you with, but some books are memorable because of the way they made you feel.
This book made me feel as if I could step into her shoes in one chapter and only gaze at her from afar in other chapters. I felt like a voyeur sneaking a peek into someone’s private life, when I read the diary writing. I felt like a mesmerised audience when I read the poetry. I felt like the scholar who spends his days contemplating the mysteries of the universe when I read about her journey. It is pretty surprising how life can change so drastically within a span of a few days or few years.
But if you don’t have a strong story to tell, it doesn’t matter how many pretty words you use, it won’t leave its mark. The Merchant of Stories is a compilation of Dipa’s life fit into just a few pages. She does not only share her experiences but also her knowledge, thoughts and idle musings. What is interesting in her story is that I could relate to a lot of things.
“Another childhood dream fulfilled. I can tick the checkbox and say I’ve seen those clay warriors up close and personal.”
Her thoughts while travelling, her casual mention of astrology, her quest for learning and the fact that she didn’t recognise her own strengths unless someone pointed it out.
Struggle and Strength
These appear to be the two key themes of this book. The author’s life seems like a constant tug-of-war between them. The struggles of the self-publishing journey, the journey of her ancestors, the struggles of life as an artist and the general struggles of everyday life.
But in every story of struggle, there is strength.
It is that strength which makes one overcome hardship. Everything the author mentioned was what people like us, readers who admire words, would have probably felt at some point in time. Every reader develops such love for the places they read about that they have an urge to travel. And reading makes us fall in love with words, so we wish to write them as well. But the journey of a reader to a traveller to a writer and finally, taking the plunge and self-publishing is filled with lot of self-doubt, practical problems and so, I am thankful that a book like this exists.
To me, this book left an undeniably clear message. If there is a story brimming inside you, waiting to come out, don’t let it die. The art of storytelling can be learned but the stories must come naturally. See the beauty of everything around you and draw from it. Those are the strengths of a true writer.
About the Author
An avid reader, writer by passion and journalist by choice, Pallavi Sareen spends her days surrounded by the magic of words with innumerable stories to tell. She also has restless feet that don’t let her settle anywhere and she wants to give them free rein letting them take her around the world.