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.

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.

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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!

It Wasn’t Exactly Love

Stories From the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop 2012

This book has been referred to as an anthology by Farafina Books and Tsitsi Dangaremgba. But also a short stories collection by Ama Ata Aidoo and I. Either way it features 13 captivating short stories from various genres, written from different timelines and set in mostly African countries. They all use literature to tell fantastic stories about human relationships. I bought this book in June, if my memory serves me well. Its been on my TBR since then.

I began reading it late last week. One of the reasons I bought this collection is because certain authors I love and know are featured. Eghosa Imasuen, author of Fine Boys wrote the foreword. Nana  Darkoa Sekyiamah, African Erotica and relationship writer has a feature story. Her erotic short fiction, Fucking Ghana Into Me was my first review on the blog. She is one of the reasons I go back to Adventures From The Bedroom of African Women. Yewande Omotosho, author of novels that explore South African, adult fiction narratives. I noticed two things about these stories. To sit was spelt seat and most of the setting and character descriptions were slowly narrated over the duraton of the story. It helped the story unfold into a more vivid mental image.

 

Alpha’s Gambit by Mazi Nwonwu turned out to be my favie favorite story in this collection, Which is funny because I couldn’t figure out what the title hints the story was about. After reading its first two pages I stopped, oh Fantasy I murmured to myself. Flipping pages to Yewande Omotosho’s odd adult fiction. I returned to it some days later to fall in love with the futuristic Nigeria setting. This work isn’t fanatasy but biopunk sci-fi, afrofuturism and queer erotica. But if it’s one thing Anuli Alpha taught me is that labels aren’t important especially if they restrict you. All those sub fiction genres are my favorites! Without the labeling genres, Anuli Ezile, Nigeria’s extraordinary agent, non-binary, pheromone emitting beauty tells an unforgettable story. She was shocked that Anna (Major Anna Momoh) messed with her mind, wanted her to be male and tried killing her. I said Ghen Ghen when infatuated, hopeful and shocked Alpha turned angry at her lover’s deceit. ‘The last wing beats faded from my mind and where love once existed, a hollow that anger started to seep into appeared’. My Mum has the ability to read minds. Its really delightful to find unique African experiences narrated so beautifully. A Nigeria where the laws,companies, government and military protect the interests of everyone including LGBTIA residents. Dope!


Bolt by Ejike Kanife was hilarious. It begins with them having passionate, erotic, sex. I love the way Emeka, the doomed protagonist uses his Naija youthful lingua to tell a comical story of his sexual journey into Hadiza’s marital home. He fights off his attraction to Alhaji’s wife for a while.. In the end they fuck each other’s lives downside up. I loved the erotica, it was pure, raw and intense. The narration began during doggy style and ends in Hadiza’s cowgirl halted ride. ‘I just lay back on the bed fully aware that my life, Hadiza’s and maybe Alhaji’s would never be the same again.’ 

Ladies Night by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is set in Ghana in 2013. It reminds me of my married bestie. We have a meet-up spot to discuss our love lives. Other than that, he’s a responsible, attentive, present and loving husband, father and friend. His devotion to his family is one of the things I love about him.  Kweku is a comfortable married man with a devoted wife. Comfortable enough to have extramarital affairs. The story begins with an hilarious police chase that ends ladies night. We meet Afua, his best friend, single independent woman who has sexual trysts in her car and other odd placaes. She still lives with her parents. Hotels don’t help, neither do the broke small boys she has sex with. I can really relate to their ordeals. I live with my sister. When people ask where I live I state that. I still get people insisting they want to know where my parents live. Why can’t they assimilate a young, unmarried, African woman can live alone? Yes, it can be annoying walking into an hotel with a beautiful exterior that has a irky smell, coarse bedding and no service delivery. Anyway, the story soon changes for Kweku when Maame says. “We need more than your money. I need more than your money. I need a husband in every sense of the word. Fix up or lose us.’ This reminds me of many discussions my sis and I have had about Nigerian men thinking financial provision/support is their only marital responsibility.

Bride’s Gift and Every Thing Counts analyse women’s relationships with society, empowerment, sexual expression and love. They both encourage you to live, sexy free, your truths but make healthy compromises. Every Thing Counts by Chika Oduah reminds me of Dear White People because of the heroine’s controversial interracial relationship. I was awed with Ada’s certainty of herself and her sextuationship with Calvin. This story made me smile because the oddest things or deepest thoughts go through my mind while I’m having sex. The story traced the history of her self, childhood, growing up African in Southern America, black nationalism, sexual assault of minority women. This history is given in flashback, thoughts during erotic sex. I loved it! Bride’s Gift, is narrated by a young Cameroonian bride to her companion, her diary on her wedding day. “It was on the tip of my tongue to ask about the “Groom’s Gift” did it exist?’ The pressure from “concerned” family and sexist socio-economic realities on young African women to settle for less than their dreams is a theme in this short story. This theme questions patriarchy and how women compromise to survive or give in totally. ‘That’s how I feel now, like I sold myself cheap. Only its not my body I traded away, it’s my dream, my hopes.’  At least she got her dream wedding if not her dream man, Alphonse. ‘The guy knew how to make me want him, he just didn’t want me enough to share more than kisses.’ How she lost her virginity was just insensitive of the groom, Conrad. Men need to stop silencing female pain especially during sex.

 

This anthology is filled with puzzling adult fiction pieces like There Was A Man by Yewande Omotosho which took me into Nina’s mind. She’s a middle aged South African woman. Her sexless-loveless marriage, therapy with Dr Needles, and the traffic newspaper man. With stream of consciousness and humor, Yewande Omotosho drives me through South Africa.  Reading An Autodidact’s Guide To Sex Ed by Mona Zutoh Opubor made me gratefully reminisce about my honest, open, empowering upbringing.

There were compelling coming of age stories like A Taste of It by Martin Chinagorom, Bound by Ese Lerato Emewua and Under The Surface by Efembe Eke. Finding Courage by Richard Ali made me gasp wow, it was a disconcerting story of loss of love, faith and courage in people, causes and a nation. “With the loss of Tamara , I lost my faith in love, then in my country. Faith fuels,it is faith I am disposed of.” Aside, Born On A Tuesday  haven’t read about the Nigerian Government detention and tortured interrogation of political critics or Boko Haram suspects that got me gasping.  I was like, wait Tamara isn’t Tamara but Aisha, a spy? There I was touched that there was a character with a disability in the anthology. You Take Me For A Goat by Samuel Kolawole is a honest shot of domestic violence. Beatings one minute, sex the next. Psychological abuse and bullying of an enduring partner by a frustrated partner is also common.  I highly recommend this anthology with 4 fireworks. Its a symbol of why I love anthologies and short stories. I loved that the female characters were empowered or learning to come into their own.