"An Exceptional Zephyr" by Dorian Dalta is not a book that is ever likely to make it as a best seller and it is not the sort of book that many people are likely to take the time to read. Nevertheless it is an interesting book from several perspectives.
The story is told in retrospect by an old man -- Rahja - already transitioning between this life and the next, by which I mean that until the last few paragraphs he is experiencing out of body events. It is a story of regret that alcoholism caused him to lose the ones he most loved. The story follows two different paths; the main character's regrets and his ex-mother-in-law's longstanding affair with a Catholic Priest.
A picture of the author reveals him to be Indian, as is the main character. I therefore do not know how much of the narrative language is the author's and how much is contrived for the story, but the narrative is very much as one would expect of an immigrant Indian. Sentences are generally short and the language is not indicative of a native speaker. Perhaps I could say that the writing reflects a particular cultural form of expression and as such it is effective.
The portrayal of the dying old man's disjointed thinking and speaking is quite realistic, as are his expressions of regret and fear. In those places where Rahja is drunk, one really gets a sense of being drunk and trying to recall or work out situations.
The writer does a good job of getting us inside the old man's head and leading us into empathy. Mr. Dalta does not spare us the physical degradation that Rahja suffers; the pooping his pants and being taken to the toilet and made to do childish exercises. There are a few funny moments in those baser aspects of life.
Ultimately the story is about coming to both a self-understanding and an appreciation of every person's interconnectedness with God and everybody else. It is a tale of love -- albeit told from quite an unusual perspective.
Dorian Dalta has a double master's degree in counseling psychology. He is a freelance musician and lives in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
"An Exceptional Zephyr"
by Dorian Dalta
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 9/24/2013