You are on a long journey, a quest. You are like Jason in search of the Golden Fleece, Heracles fulfilling his labours, but you are a recent amputee, mysteriously missing your left arm. By self-definition you are a cripple and your sole companion is the dry, brown, cat-turd-like finger of a leper that was forced upon you after witnessing an arranged fight between two lepers. It is not a glamorous journey, but you are seeing life as you never knew it. Now imagine you are a self-centred, self-absorbed, wealthy-but-have-chosen-to-live-among-the-crippled-and-poor-in-Bombay man, and you are the protagonist of The Cripple and His Talismans by Anosh Irani (Raincoast). As a narrator you may have some brilliant observations about life, but the reader, may occasionally wish to erase cliché passages. If you are a woman, the protagonist is the charming blind date who would slip rohipnol into your soda pop while you’re blowing your nose. If you are a man, you might like the cad in a way that men admire men who are virile and dog-like toward women. But the protagonist is a cripple, so ultimately you should feel sympathy for him and his plight. Sometimes you will and sometimes you won’t. The Cripple and His Talismans offers an uneven ride from start to finish, and you might just feel bipolar at the end of it.