June 20, 2018

Of Boys and Bickering: Amna Chaudhry's Sonny and Steven is completely pointless

(This is Review Part 2 of the Anthology titled Breakups)

I really don’t want to review this story, because it was really pointless. There, I said it, even though I didn’t want to, because the author is part of the South Asian feminist initiative Girls at Dhabas, and I really like that initiative, and so by association I wanted to wax lyrical about how great this piece of literature, and how I definitely recommend that the rest of the girls sitting on those dhabas immediately start writing as well. Unfortunately, no, no, and so much of the no.

It’s not that it’s bad writing. That’s also a kind of torture, but fun to review, because there’s space to rant and to point out all the places where the author messed up. This story is just, well, forgettable. Nothing interesting happens, and the characters are almost invisible in how unmemorable they are. Sonny, a wedding photographer, waits for his new partner to arrive so they can go to an event. Roger shows up, they go, Sonny takes lots of portrait photos and gets pissed that Roger isn’t taking any, Roger then takes photos of the dance sequences and makes a deal with Sonny that they’ll both split responsibilities in terms of portraits and action shots. On the way back, Sonny throws away the card he had with his previous partner Steven and sits down for his some chai by himself, since Roger has to leave quickly.

Annnddd that’s about it. Absolutely nothing of consequence happens. I’m not even sure whether there was a spoiler in there that I shouldn’t have given away, given that – as I said before – nothing worth discussing actually happens. I’m assuming it’s quite sad that Sonny and Steven aren’t together, since that’s literally the title of the story: Sonny and Steven. Except, meh. I didn’t care that much. There is no intensity of emotion to make me feel any sadness or yearning or even depth for a broken friendship. Steven apparently joins a studio, and Sonny is smarting about it. Did they have a violent disagreement? Is Steven really poor and in need of the money? How long were they friends for? How’d they start the business together? For a short story, you either need details (plot, character background, etc.), or you need emotions (depth, connection, etc.). I got neither from this one. Unfortunately, not recommended.