I don’t write reviews of magazines, but I want to make an exception for this one. Tons of online lit-mags are coming out every month and most of them are of sub-standard quality in terms of content, design and editing. Telegram, on the other hand, stands out as a magazine exclusively devoted to literature.
To review Telegram, I’ll take one issue (September Issue) as a sample and give an overall reaction.
It contains a balanced mix of poetry, short stories, reviews, discussions and non-fiction articles related to literature, music and art in general. It also has a fun quiz section on literature.
The theme for September is Cityscape; stories that are connected to your hometown, stories where cities become characters. All the stories have successfully achieved this. There is Bus Route 86 by Percy Wadiwala which describes Mumbai in the span of a bus ride. Its cricket, its humdrum, its buildings and corners – everything come into life as the narrator remembers his childhood city and the city now, how it has changed over years. Parallel to this cityscape, there runs another story, story of a failed love and tussle between two friends, powered by ego and politics. The end is both surprising and apt. A fine piece of fiction.
Prayag by Nilesh Mondal tells a person’s experience in a new city via a letter sent to a friend who has never tried to become intimate with her city. Madras and Pondichery come to life as the narrator describes his experiences at both places, and how he has fallen in love with the new city more than his hometown. This story is both description-wise beautiful – you get to experience all the five senses – and effective to incite the urge to know your city, to feel home with it. The result is a satisfying and nostalgic read.
Local Politician by Abhyudaya Shrivastava is a humorous take on a local politician during a bus ride. The hypocrisy is brought out brilliantly, in a way that is not at all offensive.
The poems go with the same rhythm like short fictions. Augmented Reality and Souvenir are the poems I loved. The Home I Left is a long poem wonderfully written that chronicles the journey of a city as it grows old. It reminded of a poem by Jibanananda Das which starts like: “I am walking for a thousand years…”
The discussion on Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and the study of the relationship between madness and literature is surprisingly insightful. I did not anticipate such a well researched article. It should be noted that Mrs Dalloway is often compared and discussed along with Jane Eyre and Wild Sargasso Sea. A few interesting observations could have been added to the article then.
A detailed and well written review of Persopolis is also there in the issue. Glad to see a graphic novel getting place in the magazine.
I was saving the cover story for the last, because I think it is of huge importance. The cover story on the upcoming Indian music bands is very informative and an example of good journalism. I like to mention that the article on JNU published in the July issue is also a very good one. I enjoyed reading that. There is a humour and truth in the reports, making them quite engaging.
One thing I like to suggest is to include one or two lines about the contributors after the index page or at the end of each piece.
Overall, I like to say that a magazine like this gives me hope that something good is happening in Indian literature. I believe, if it keeps up this quality, it’ll see bright days in its future. I have become a regular reader of this magazine.