Reader-Critic Concerns Addressed

The ‘Cries of the Butterfly – a Love Story’ or ‘CBLS’ has received 88% favorable reviews from Advance Reader-Critics on Amazon. All of these are completely genuine, honest, independent reviews from reader-critics who are complete strangers to the author, and who the author has never tried to get in touch with or influence in any way.

Among the 88% favorable reviews, a Hall of Fame, Top 100, reviewer called it ‘An Epic’. Others titled their reviews thus: ‘Exceptional’ … ‘A Must Read’ … ‘A Brilliant Story…Really Amazing’ … ‘A Not To Be Missed Story’ … ‘This Author’s Work Will Amaze You’ … ‘Nothing Short Of Exceptional’ … ‘An Experience That You Just Have To Have’ … ‘Deserves A Round Of Applause’ … ‘Dynamic Characterization’  … ‘An Excellent Read’ … ‘Captivating Emotional Roller Coaster Ride’ …  ‘A Truly Touching Story’ … ‘An Excellent Cross-section of a Single Life’ … ‘Intense Ride, Unlike Anything Else’ …  ‘An Emotional Rollercoaster Ride! 5 Stars’ … ‘The Story Of All Humanity’ …  ‘Lots of Twists and Turns and a Ton of Emotion’ … ‘You Are In For An Emotional Ride’ … ‘A Book With An Emotional Quotient—In spades’. Of course, the reviews themselves go into much more detail.

The rest 12% have raised some concerns about the book, which i here endeavor to address. It is the least i can do for these Reader-Critics who have been so gracious to review a book of a complete stranger. I owe it to them.

[As this is an open blog, Spoilers have been avoided. So no particular incident/plot-point has been discussed.]

(1) Charge: Grammar and Typo errors: should have been vetted by a professional editor (8% reader-critics raised this).

This book has been vetted by a professional editor. While a typo or two may still have slipped by, there are really no spelling mistakes that aren’t deliberately intended. Amazon’s own spell-check confirms this. The same with grammar. (1) For example, when one converses on chat-forums on the Net, people will, as a rule, use faulty grammar/spellings (chapter 1). (2) A foreigner not too familiar with the language will naturally speak lousy English (chapter 19). (3) A poorly educated person will often not only have flaws in his English, but can also exhibit strange verbal quirks, peculiar to him/her (chapter 21). (4) Also, a little child will sometimes not use perfect grammar when speaking (prologue and others).

However, above all, this is a creative work. One should not expect the use of the purest form of the English language as one would in pristine educational settings. Nor is it desirable…for then the prose style can become pretty boring. Creative liberties have been, and should be, taken to render the prose as effective as possible (provided one is perfect with the language to begin with). I think this has been appreciated by 92% of the reader-critics.

One reader-critic had a problem with the word ‘ain’t’ being used now and then. A closer look would reveal that it is used only by one person, whose idiosyncratic verbal trait it is. Nowhere else is it used, or by anyone else. Indeed, readers would have noticed that each of the characters has a verbal trait unique to them.

(2) Charge: Complicated Plot (8% reader-critics raised this).

‘The Cries of the Butterfly-a Love Story’ is a rare book so full of riches. To quote a critic: ‘Although a Love-story, ‘CBLS’ has more Twists and Turns, Mystery and Suspense, High-octane Action and Thrill—all beautifully and expertly integrated—than any other top-notch Thriller.” ‘All beautifully and expertly integrated’. So, there are many threads to the plot, but they all tie in homogeneously.

Further, to call this a Family Drama is to severely limit a very vast work. True there’s family involvement. But it’s incidental. The real story is about three fragile people—a man, a woman and a little girl, each one on the brink, each on a knife’s edge, who desperately need to be together to survive, to live again, but who are violently opposed by the rest of the world who don’t want them to come together. “It’s a multi-layered love-story like nothing else the reader has ever seen before,” Reviewer Quote.

But beyond the love-story and the family-drama, another weighty dimension is its Plot Heaviness: its many threads of Mystery and Suspense; its many Twists and Turns (all occurring naturally, all believable), some of them independent of each other and running a parallel course, until they finally tie in. The plot of ‘CBLS’ is rich, but not at all complicated/convolute-d because all the different threads are beautifully woven together and revealed/resolved near the end/at the end. [92% of the reader-critics have appreciated this.] How often has one read a Mainstream, accessible book of such richness? Honestly, how many books exhibit such creativity?

Also, in perhaps a first ever, hints for every mystery element are strewn throughout the book, which while giving nothing away keeps the reader constantly intrigued.

(3) Charge: Should have been 2 or 3 books, instead of one.

True. Like some readers said (and one actually complained), this book could have been 2, even 3, books. There is enough matter to stretch it out to 3 books at least and still keep it content-rich. Indeed, each part could be a separate book (there are 4 parts, although the 4th part is only one chapter). The book has 190,812 words and is packed with action/emotion (although, it is not crowded and allows the reader to breathe).

However would it be fair…would it be right? Would it be ethical?

Honestly, to my mind, it is dishonesty and pure robbing of the paying reader, whom you have succeeded in hooking.

And honestly, such unethical behavior seems to be the norm these days—with both books and movies. Two examples:

The Twilight series: One clichéd tale (what should have been a novella, and 1 movie), stretched out to 3 books and 4 movies, spreading the story so thin that each of the books/movies had very little real content, just endless, meaningless rambling.

Same with the Hunger Games: A unique story for a change (should have been 1 book/2 movies), but again stretched thin to 3 books/4 movies.W

Well, I refuse to behave this way. I would rather tag my book at 10 dollars but give the reader the full worth at one go. [Although, at $10, ‘CBLS’ is still priced at a throwaway price, given its sheer quality—after all, you don’t get a Rolls Royce for the price of a Nissan Versa. However, this Rolls Royce, at $10, is still heavily discounted.]

(4) Charge: Soap-operatic/Melodramatic (8% of the reader-critics had this problem).

Far from it. Here is why: unlike a soap-opera which can drift on endlessly, often senselessly, ‘CBLS’ is a focused, point-to-point story, taking place over a period of exactly 5 months (not counting the prologue). Each incident/episode has a purpose, and relevance, helping to push the story relentlessly forward to the dénouement. Each incident/episode has a direct effect/bearing either on the very next incident or one in the future. Without that incident the story could not have moved forward.

As for melodrama, a clear distinction between ‘melodrama’ and ‘absolutely necessary/appropriate high-emotions’ needs to be made. … The dictionary describes melodrama thus: melodrama is drama characterized by Exaggerated Emotions, Sentimentality, Excessively Dramatic, Affected, Artificial behavior, Stereotypical characters.

‘CBLS’ isn’t remotely anything like that. Here is why: How would normal people behave when their whole existence is at stake…when they are constantly on a razor’s edge, not knowing what ills the next moment will bring? This is a high-concept story of 3 protagonists who are continuously imperiled…who are constantly struggling to keep their heads above water and somehow take the next breath. How would real human beings in such situations behave? With a whole lot of literary subtlety and underplay?

For example, you may mentally/emotionally be the strongest man on the planet, but if the two people you love the most—one little girl, one helpless woman—who depend on you for their well-being, nay their very existence, are in a life and death situation, and you are totally helpless to do anything about it, you are going to freak out…if you are a Real human being, a Real man, and not a suave emotionally-crippled monster (brain-keen, soul-dead), pretending to be a human. Likewise, you may be the toughest nail-eating woman in the world, but you are going to lose it if your little child is greatly imperiled or is being helplessly torn away from you, and you are completely powerless to do anything about it. Any real woman, with even a modicum of human feelings, would. ‘CBLS’ has one situation after another where the three main protagonists are constantly endangered, perpetually on knife’s edge. To show these three real human beings behaving with great subtlety, refinement and self-control in these life-and-death (basically) situations would be dishonest and fraudulent in the extreme.

Let’s take this a step further: not all people are the same. Each one has their own inherent nature/personality/character, unique to them. Some are staid and cold, others more sensitive, more emotional, more volatile; some are robust, solid, others more fragile, more vulnerable. Take the chief protagonist, Wolf. He is sensitive, emotional, fragile, vulnerable. That’s his inherent nature…the way he was born. His behavior during high-stress situations would then naturally be more dramatic, more striking. To show him/expect him to behave otherwise (to exhibit great literary subtlety) would be fraudulent…a sham. It wouldn’t be in keeping with the integrity of his innate character. [Though, Wolf’s growth over the 5 months of this story is phenomenal. There is growth for every major character, but Wolf’s growth is truly amazing]. One beauty of ‘CBLS’ is its diverse range of characters—not just their diverse social situations, but more importantly the diversity of their intrinsic personalities…which all go to make for very interesting possibilities.

There is not one incident in ‘CBLS’ where any character was acting away from his/her inherent nature—not one episode where any character exhibited unnecessary-to-the-situation/out-of-place exaggerated/affected/unnecessarily-excessive/artificial emotions or sentimentality. Each character always behaved true to form…in keeping with the integrity of their innate personalities…just normal reactions of normal people who find themselves in extraordinary situations.

 (5) Charge: Bollywood-esque (mercifully, only 1 reader-critic thought so).

What is Bollywood? The developed world privately perceives Bollywood as ‘a Freak Show’…hundreds of such freak shows churned out every year. It is appropriately called by the derivative ‘Bollywood’ as over 95% of these freak shows (euphemistically called ‘movies’) are shameless rip-offs of Hollywood and elsewhere. Bollywood is hilariously pathetic…a ludicrous concoction of song, dance and fake, contrived emotions.

‘The Cries of the Butterfly-a Love Story’ and Bollywood are as comparable as Light and Dark, Day and Night.

Honestly, Bollywoodians simply don’t possess the wherewithal (the brain, the heart, the soul) to remotely create a story as rich and compelling as ‘CBLS’. When even a simple Hollywood rip-off cannot be managed with any level of proficiency, how can an original and unique work of such richness and verdure even be conceived by them?

In truth, Bollywood is crack-up ridiculous; a sad place, where talentless lunkheads cater to an extremely low-brow mass of low-quality, backward and primitive people. To be compared to Bollywood, even offhandedly, even by just one person, is the ultimate abuse and the ultimate insult. Shall not be wasting any more breath on it.