Man on Fire

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Bibhuti “BB” Nayak sets world records. He believes it is his destiny to inspire the common man to overcome everyday pains by mastering pain with extreme feats of endurance. A strict training regimen, a vegetarian diet, and the proper breathing technique have allowed him to set thirteen world records, records such as “43 kicks to the unprotected groin in one minute and a half” and “smashed 3 concrete slabs in the groin by a sledgehammer.” Unfortunately, Bibhuti has hit a roadblock with his fourteenth record; he wants someone to break fifty bats by hitting him, and no one is willing to do it. Then John Lock enters his life bringing money, a willingness to swing the bats, and the burden of a cancer diagnosis. Soon the pair are preparing to awe the world.

Kelman intersperses chapters from Bibhuti’s memoir amongst John Lock’s recollections; Bibhuti narrates chronologically while John travels backward and forward in time. This means that the reader has a good idea of the outcome of the fourteenth record attempt long before John swings the first bat. It also means that the reader gets the same story from polar opposite perspectives; Bibhuti’s belief in himself is almost farcical while John doesn’t believe in anything—except, perhaps Bibhuti. I wasn’t sure whether these characters were tragic or comical or just simply human.

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Author Stephen Kelman
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Bloomsbury USA
Publish Date 2016-Feb-16
ISBN 9781632864390
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue May 2016
Category Modern Literature


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