What I Am Reading

My thoughts on books, comics, literary magazines, anthologies, genres that I am currently reading and adding to the Amethyst Saw Library.

Guerrilla Post

GUERRILLA POST by OBARI GOMBA

‘My grandmother always prayed let a storm not visit a hut, else broomsticks will fly in the wind and blind the sun itself.’

I finished reading this drama during my flight to Abuja from Yola for the Nigerian Law School 1st term Christmas Break last month. It was a humorous but thought-provoking play.

***Description/ Spoiler Alert

It follows the story of three friends who are poets and run a poetry blog, Guerrilla Post. Kafka, Best and Pake decide to host a poetry reading for Kafka’s newly released erotic poems collection. The reading goes askew when two men in the audience disrupt it. Kafka is arrested later that night and charged with treason my Supon Maden. While his fiance and friends enlist the help of Prof Mante and Rosa to speak with Supon Maden. The story unfolds to show there is more to the false arrest. It would seem Supon Maden believes the erotic poem’s manuscript was evidence of an affair with his wife Rosa. Everything quickly escalates as the blog is hacked to plant treasonable posts, guns are acquired and the drama ends bloody.

****ENDS here

The consistent plot twists and reveals were exciting. Bold characters who critiqued the Nigerian political reality and were persecuted for it. I really like Prof Mante, Best, Kafka the main character. The book had strong female characters who were intelligent, walked away from domestic violence, worked and actively influenced the plot( both positively and unknowingly negatively). Pake was one of my favourite characters.

The bits of poetry were enjoyable. Each Scene began with a quote from one of the characters words. I didn’t like that rape was a feature which added no plot value nor admonished the perpetrators in the drama. This makes me remember (not in her exact words) what Lara Kareem said about Nigerian male writers and how they add rape to their books for the sensational power play and not for social justice even helpful lessons.

The themes of sex and power, police brutality, creative writing, political persecution, institutionalised corruption, domestic abuse, sexual violence, drug abuse, the effect of war on terrorism, cybersafety, problems creatives and writers face–made it a bold, honest, thought-provoking read. I didn’t like the abrupt end. It felt like an action film’s last scene without the ambulance door victory chat. But I feel this was also a metaphor for how the villain and hero’s crossed paths end. I’ll give it 3.5 fireworks and highly recommend it.

I talk about it in my Bookie Life Update video on my booktube channel.

More info..

Obari Gomba(PhD) is an award-winning poet and writer. This play is 98 pages and has been premiered at The Crab, an iconic theatre of the University of Port-Harcourt on 13th December 2017. Its published in Nigeria 2018 by Narrative Landscape Press.

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PAINTED BLUE WITH SALT WATER

PAINTED BLUE WITH SALT WATER by Logan February

Firstly, I have to say I love this poetry chapbook’s cover! It was so calming and represents its themes.

Secondly, I honestly read the poems in Logan February’s voice. The privilege of listening to him read erotic poems during Poetry After Dark during #LIPFest18

Thirdly, I’ve learnt, “Know yourself and do not be ashamed of what others think. Fly above shackling realities.” from this book.

My favourite poems are; The Ghost of Valentino, Ixora, Self Portrait as a Pussyboy, Lonesome Bodies, Black Hoodie, Wolfboy, Heartache and

In The Light of the Prayer Room, ‘Where I pray/ is the kind of room/ whose walls should be painted blue/ with saltwater.’ I was excited spotting the title of the chapbook.

A Night of No New Things, ‘Dissolve two fallen stars in a cup of chamomile/and it tastes a lot like sweet deception.’

Self Portrait as a Rainbow Boy, ‘From the Prisma of the swirling,/I learn that you can still look pretty/in the middle of ruin.’ There were a lot of self-portraits that made me wonder how many ways can I examine myself.

I read this chapbook filled with 30 poems of varying lengths twice. It’s a book I feel I can travel with. It’s so refreshing! With themes of love lust, hope and flight, fluidity, queerness and family. The poems are honest, imaginative, self-reflective, intimate with vivid imagery. I liked the references of the sea. The way these poems painted stories of queer love, acceptance, hidden affairs, homophobic violence was moving. I highly recommend this poetry chapbook.

More info.

Logan February is a poet, co-editor in chief of The Ellis Review and happy Nigerian owl. Say hi to him here. This is his second poetry chapbook. Published by Indolent Books, Brooklyn, New York, 2018.

What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.

WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY by Leslie Nneka Arimah

It’s been a while I’ve read a book in less than 24 hours. I read this in October even though its been on my TBR since July.  This dark collection of short stories were like bed time stories. Filled with magic and scary narrations of life’s harshness. It has 11 dazzling short stories with themes of family ties, loss, aftermath of war and struggle. I’d discus my favorite stories then others.

The title story, What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, follows Nneoma in the wake of a disastrous fall of a man, failing of mathematical equations and her resurfaced ex-lover being eaten by grief. I loved how the story is set in a speculative flood ridden world. It raises issues of climate change, its effects on countries and what this will mean for Africa in the future. Which then make conspiracy theories grow wild in my head. I’m worried about foreign financial aid, development loans and bilateral treaties with China and other countries that leave African countries at an unforeseen disadvantage.

Who Will Greet You At Home is a story that follows the unimaginable results of a young woman who weaves a child out of hair. It is a metaphor to how and what women sacrifice for their children and desires. Like their happiness, bodies, empathy, patience and time. Often times these children disappoint and their desires are unfulfilled. Like Ogechi, after many frustrated attempts, some people live life by settling for less or whatever is ascribed to persons of their caliber.

What is a Volcano is my third favorite story in the collection. A very enjoyable African mythology tale. It narrates century long feud between River Goddess and the God of Ants. What is a volcano? Its is when River Goddess and her helpers are awoken from centuries of resignation by the cry of surviving god-child. A volcano is the kasala that bursts when the Bereaver finds the lineage of obedient women who have hidden God of Ants’ petty secrets. Or maybe a volcano is overflowing breast milk of heartbroken goddesses.

Some intriguing reads were Light, Redemption, Wild, Windfalls, Second Chances, Glory and Buchi’s Girls.

‘My thanks felt foolish under the glare of this truth. Girls with fire in their bellies will be forced to drink from a well of correction till the flames die out’. These words summarize Redemption. I like that this story is blunt about the reality young girls face in African societies. It is narrated by Evelyn’s nameless daughter about Mayowa, Mrs Ajayi’s new house girl, who she’s infatuated with. The story traces Mayowa’s boldness, her daily defiance, how she attacks a child molester and masterminds a robbery attempt with Grace. Other daily misadventures of all the characters are intimately narrated. In the end truths are slashed open. I won’t lie I was sickened with how the church, Evelyn believed Brother Benny instead of the molested girls because he is a nice, godly man.

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Light tells a story of a father who raises his daughter. She is on the edge of womanhood. It’s a honest depiction of the protective but empowering relationships fathers have with their daughters. That is until the world touch their daughters, dimming their carefree lights. I kept smiling reading this story. Men raise children too and excellently well at times.

Windfalls was scary because it depicts how dangerous irony of life can get. The title is witty while the second person narrator makes it intimate. In this story a mother and daughter live off settlement claims for “accidental” falls in superstores. This story explores children exploitation by hustler parents. Sad sad story. I was appalled with the teenage narrator’s mother. Would I say the five hundred thousand dollars settlement Amara got for falling on melted ice-cream and losing a baby a good ending? She got pregnant having sex for her mother’s car sale discount. Although, Amara looked forward to raising her baby. Yes, it is. Even though everything about it is messed up.

In Wild, the snide older woman at the party, lying about being with a cousin to a parent with the said person, family members frustrating a wife’s inheritance and being an African living in America, all mix together to summarize quick disaster.

War Stories, The Future Looks Good, in these stories ghost memories of the Biafran war haunt the characters. In the latter, sibling rivalry, survival necessities and a murder sum it up. I like that it narrates war realities and how they affect three generations of women.

In all, I’ll rate this read four fireworks! For its writing style, tone, powerful themes and unique take on speculative fiction. I noticed most stories didn’t have a definite end, you’d have to conclude them yourself. This can be infuriating with all initial suspense but it fosters reflection. Some stories had implied or hidden endings. Very creative. This work is one you’ll enjoy reading on a lazy afternoon or lonely night. It is definitely worth the hype. Infact, Daisy Odeh said she uses this novel as her benchmark for enjoyable African speculative fiction.  If you’ve read or when you do this book. I’d like to know your most enjoyable stories.

More info..
This is Leslie Nneka Arimah’s debut collection. It is the winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa and some other grants and awards. It’s published in Nigeria in 2017 Kachifo Limited under its Farafina imprint.

 

My Booked Weekend

‘Belief fuels action. Consistent action yields result. Its Saturday, evaluate this week and plan for the next’-Adaeze Feyisayo

I decided to spend this weekend typing reviews, reading Asian mythical retellings from A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, packing up for Law School and rearranging the house. Of course, I packed up my bookstagram props box first. Which recent prop do you like more in my pictures, the balloons or pearls? 

But my plans got a little variation. My book girlfriend, Habeebah sent me Nnedi Okorafor’s short story collection, Kabu Kabu. I’ve already read and listened to some of its stories on online platforms. Captivating stories like The Baboon War, The Harmattan Winds, The Palm Tree Bandit and Spider the Artiste. Thanks Gem! I began reading it last night, gripping my pillowcase through the tension and mystical rides. My reading vigil ended by 3am.  I slept off to VanJess melodically singing through my earbuds with my EPUB reader glowing. 

I‘ve tried recalling how many paperback books, poems and online short fiction I have read this year. I regret not keeping count. This made me decide to share a list of all the flash stories and series I published this year. Watch out for that!  All of that aside, I moved back to my apartment on Sunday. I haven’t been here in three weeks due to flooding. It really feels good to be back. To be able to flll in my plant bottles and jar, boil ginger tea, lounge in lingerie and peacefully listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I noticed my creativity got a boost. I mean look at the pictures above. 

I really enjoyed reading The Used Life’s Footwork which discusses authenticity and creativity as time goes by. I share some thoughts in the comment section. In September I struggled with my creativity, authenticity and expressing the changes they were undergoing. If you’ve followed me on Instagram you’ll notice the change. In the end, I decided to be myself. All the vibrant, yummy, fiery and sometimes reserved versions. Other reads I enjoyed this weekend were Biology Practicals by Timehin Adegbeye and Her Lovers by Nana Darkoa. ‘She wanted to show the world the beauty and culture that Africa contained, and for herself, she had discovered that the best of culture was contained within people.’ 

If you haven’t read my latest story, BANTU KNOTS. A Youth Corper is found strangled in his apartment at Maryland in Lagos. The Police say its suicide but his secret lover has other suspicions. With October coming to an end, the year’s last two months are gaining on us.  Apart from evaluating my progress with my 2k18 reading goals or reading up DNF books. I’m curating reads for Law School which resumes mid November. I currently have three books on that list. I plan to begin saving and buying soon. Expect some book reviews and stories this coming week.

Enjoy your weekend Gem!