Friday, March 7, 2008

November Rain by Al Raines

Cult novel and possibly India’s foremost pop-fiction November Rain written by Al Raines seems to take a cue from the epic rock ballad November Rain by Guns N’ Roses. The bride in the Guns and Roses song is often presumed to be killed abruptly when a lightning strikes during her church wedding. Similarly young Sandeep unexpectedly loses his sweetheart Arpita while fixing their marriage date when their car crashes during a rainstorm in November.

We’ve all heard of the wedding vow to love ‘till death do us part’. However what may happen if we continue to love our partner not only after he/ she dies but in his/ her next life as well? After all it is often believed that when you meet your lover from your previous birth, you instantly feel a deep and natural affinity with him/ her as he/ she is your soul-mate.

England-born Erica paradoxically sees her dream man in her nightmares from childhood. He holds a red rose for her in the fog. She seems to be on an unending ominous wait to meet him. Medicines, hypnosis and counseling just won’t cure her recurrent nightmares. Heeding to her grandfather’s advice on his death bed an eighteen-year-old Erica flies to India to find this soul-mate of hers.

November Rain uniquely explores the concept of fate, love and loss. It shows how a single incident may have a far reaching impact affecting many people over generations. Maybe it’s better to stoically accept fate, love and loss instead. Another relevant issue explored is whether we do end up in marrying our soul-mate? And should we just let the dead rest in peace instead of invoking their spirit through a planchette?

A supernatural thriller, November Rain subtlely builds up climax through nuances. An invoked spirit scrawls that he wants to watch a ghost movie. Two cars narrowly miss a head-long collision maybe symbolically indicating that the passengers narrowly miss meeting one another despite being intertwined by fate. A painter purposely does away with all light bulbs as he likes to paint by candlelight. Out-of-season rain in November acts as tragic foreboding. The novel breaks clichés to juxtapose a sinister touch to the number ‘16’ than the predominantly used ‘13’. 16 whether in birth and death seems to be of ominous significance.

Written in epistolary style, November Rain often narrates the same incident by the various characters in their own perspectives. The narrations randomly shift between the 70’s and 90’s decade in both England and India. One of the narrations is actually by a spirit called in a planchette!

The language alters in accordance with the narrator. When an orthodox ageing NRI couple is the narrator it is full of the usual grammatical errors they are typically prone to. When college-going-youngsters narrate, the language has slang and references to rock bands.
Though this book may have more takers among those open to the supernatural especially Stephen King readers, maybe skeptics should know that November Rain is partly based on four inexplicable incidents in the authors’ present lives

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