Mehrotra writes with the assurance of a successful madame, knowing that each of his stories is guaranteed to raise a sweat, a goose-pimple or at the very least, a guilty chuckle. He benefits from the fact that Indian fiction typically concerns itself with the tourist-brochure genre of literature. By contrast, his surly louts and horny misfits become almost loveable exactly because they’re so desperately ugly.
So we have men dancing in seedy bars, a casual murder in Defence Colony, eunuchs facilitating afternoon fornicators, a teacher’s daughter caught cheating at exams, a slum-den of hash and hopelessness, romance on the edge of epileptic fits, lustful teachers, raw nerves and kitchen knives, naked buttocks and sinewy wrists. The locales range from Delhi to Dehradun and Allahabad, with a couple of stories set in Bombay and Oxford.