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Author Archives: ayo

05 Oct 2016

Super Kids and a Very Mad Maud

Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

225 Pages

Published by Quirk Books, Philadelphia

 

A combination of words and photographs will always combust, in a good way like Iain Thomas’ I Wrote This For You. I thought the title was particularly strange and the first few pages introduce you to strange, better still, peculiar kids. I had to study the photographs and found out that there was more than met my eye. But what other stories do grandfathers tell their kids if not the frightening ones? It is laughable at first, and then murder rages. Jacob Portman is thrown into a web of secrets and therapy and then travel where he finds out that his grandfather was not lying. On this journey, you will meet the big hawk who smokes a pipe, a girl who flies, the boy who jumpstarts the dead and the girl who is embarrassed of her back mouth.

missperegrinecover

What intrigued me most is the idea of the time loop that kept the peculiars alive. I think it is a stroke of genius. By time loop, I do not in any way mean time travel. You would have to read the book to get a hang of it. I really wonder how the likes of J.K Rowling, C.S Lewis and now Ransom Riggs write like they do. One thing these three have in common is a vivid imagination that allows them create. Haven’t you ever wondered how J.K Rowling created the spells, curses, fantastic beasts in her books? You will meet terms like dwights, ymbrynes and hollowgasts in this book and you will realize that they have come to stay with this generation.

I was very dissatisfied with the end. This is not me suggesting that conflict be resolved at the end of a story, or that happy or tragic endings are the best way to go. It was too open-ended. This does not mean it allowed you come to your own conclusions. It was just an open tunnel and the waves from the sea were all in your face. Alas, there are two sequels: Hollow City and Library of Souls. Problem solved. I will be sure to write a review when I read the sequels.

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

243 Pages

Published by Harper Collins

 

Spoiler Alert: Elizabeth is not missing. I actually thought her hot-tempered son, Peter had killed her. But the damned woman had a stroke.

This book hit close to home for me. Two years leading up to the death of my paternal grandma, she suffered from schizophrenia. It was terrifying, confusing and heartbreaking to watch. One thing I always wondered was what was going on in her head. It could get frustrating for we, her family but I couldn’t imagine how lost and afraid she was that she was losing herself.

Maud is not mad. She has dementia. It wasn’t until the end of the book that I realized that an eighty-two-year-old forgetful woman must have left huge gaps in the story. She must have been told again and again, that her friend Elizabeth was in the hospital but she forgot to tell us. How convenient.

elizabethismissing

I have a soft spot for parallel universes because of comics and Emma Healey won me over with this. When I reread, having now known Maud, I suspect that the thought that her friend was missing triggered the memories of another event that happened in the 1940s – her sister Sukey went missing and was never found. The story is more Sukey than Elizabeth. This way, Emma Healey presented two conflicts at the same time and didn’t fail to resolve them.

You will like Maud. You will want to give her a hug. You will want to hold her hand and tell her everything was going to be okay. You will want to hide away her the tins of peach slices and organize her little notes so that she wouldn’t feel so lost. You will also want to give Helen, her long-suffering daughter, a pat on the back, because this is all so hard and confusing for her too.

I like the characters. I like the plot. I like the language. You will have to be patient though because you are in the mind of old forgetful Maud, but if you stay with her till the end, you will realize that she is going the right way. It is no wonder that nine publishers were bidding to publish and television rights were sold before the book was released.

05 Oct 2016

Back to Basics

It has been almost two years since I blogged. I decided to take my website down because of the constant tug of war in my heart, my discomfort at putting my personal business on the internet. This affected my writing profoundly and made me put on a persona. That persona has helped write short stories. That persona has helped me finish my first novelette.

Things are better and I think I have a better grasp at handling the treacherous line between privacy and authenticity on the internet. So here I am, back to blogging.
I will, of course bring back some of my old posts, because they are well worth their weight in gold. If you read my blog as of two years ago, you will be very familiar with my Dear Behati series – letters I wrote to my unborn daughter. There is also the In Pleasure We Trust essay, my 21 Lessons at 21 and Heartbreak Chronicles.
I am not sure I have the balls to put up my short stories here. I feel like those stories are not mine; in the sense that I read them and I feel a certain detachment. Simi Oba-Pedro wrote those, not me. I will see where this road leads to, and I will be sure to put up a page for my works of fiction.
The easiest thing to start with is writing book reviews. I read at least four books every week and it is a field day in my head. As a writer myself, I am looking out for the things that interest me: discordant yet seamless plots, simplicity of language, fallible characters, a dark sense of humor and over-reliance on metaphors. As a reader, I simply want to have a really good read and a time-out in my brain. A time-out for me means a break from reality. I wrote reviews about eighteen months ago for a literary platform but I was dropped like a hot potato. It is hard for me to discredit a person’s work. Art forms in my opinion, are the most difficult platform to find coherent expression so people should get something for putting in effort. While that opinion has matured over time, I’m still reluctant to tear down. So, I will try to put my sentiments at bay and constructively criticize. I will also keep it short and simple.
I must mention that my best piece of technology in the world is the Kindle Fire. *drops mic* I have been reading with it for the past four months. Please note that when I’m mentioning the number of pages in my review, it is tailored to a font, margin and line spacing of my choosing. If you are not an avid reader, a book review is not necessarily a plot summary and it will never replace reading the book.
Will I blog about other things? Maybe. Probably. I am in this roller coaster too so till then.

27 Aug 2016

Review: October 1st

I think Tunde Babalola  and Kunle Afolayan should work together more often. I’ve been waiting for something from K.A since ‘The Figurine’ and I’m glad I waited. Good things take time and October 1st, really, is a good thing.

I’m glad that I can finally do a review of a Nigerian movie. I’ll try hard not to be a spoiler too.

I was very skeptical of going on with the movie after the first scene (the same happened with ‘Tango with Me’ by Mahmood Ali-Balogun and Femi Kayode) but I’m glad a friend literally dragged me to watch it.

This movie is a beautiful melting pot needed for present day Nigeria. It brings the three major tribes and languages (dialects inclusive), history, tradition, family, education, religion, politics and its turpitude, society structures and its failings, idiosyncrasies, music, food and even our natural hair together!

I’m very particular about our society’s response to any form of sexual abuse. It used to be a hush-hush thing. I’m glad that pedophilia and homosexuality were embedded in a historical story because it’s not a new thing. It struck me that the audience’s response to the scenes and stories of abuse in the movie was humor (the audience I watched the movie with, that is). Vulgar jokes and obscene comments were made and ripples of laughter emerged from corners. I’m still exploring the subject. Are we laughing about it because we don’t know the appropriate reactions? Are we laughing to hide some hidden pain?

Let me just put this out there: nobody blamed the male victims for the abuse they endured. But we were quick to ask Bisi why she was at the stream that late. Enlightening aye?

I’m not sure but I think it’s a ‘white’ thing to react about abuse. There is no shade to that statement. We are so used to hushing and breaking our back over our pain. We are used to laughing. We are used to hardening our hearts and eyes. I think it was an overkill that someone went on a raping and killing rampage because he was abused by his Catholic priest (spoiler alert!) in the year 1960 in Nigeria.

And yes, the makeup artist did a bad job with the Oba’s beard. It looked chalky? Inspector Afonja (Kayode Aderupoko, I really like you.

Misuse of power in the hands of the government and religion were two subjects explored. Covering up facts, taking advantage of ignorance and serving selfish purposes were clearly highlighted. I’ve noticed that Blacks and Africans are the most subscribers to any form of religion. Are we looking for a Messiah? Why are we in dire need of hope? Why else would you hand over your 12year old son to a stranger?

I believe Chimamanda Adichie’s ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ was bad news for the movie market because the movie I watched wasn’t the story she told. Her story was complete. The movie version served its purposes. It removed some vital elements and it became an exhausting lopsided evil grin.

I like that facts were not apologized for yet there weren’t negative emotions attached to them. I felt like Kunle Afolayan wasn’t trying to get me on his side, or on the side of any of the characters or tribe or theme for that matter. He was telling a story and that was all there was to it. He wasn’t stirring up any flames, he was giving you a flashlight: to look into your own heart, your history and your stances. He was making you a little more curious. He was teaching you. He was making you laugh.

It is set in 1960 but I feel like in the year 2060, this movie will even be more relevant.

This movie raised the standard for directing, cinematography and costume in Nigeria. The lighting was perfect, the uniforms of the policemen were hilarious and I’ll definitely try some agbo therapy next time my nose runs. I was reminded how to pronounce the word ‘rendezvous’ and the morgue, classic.

As expected, this movie didn’t have a happy ending. The Nigerian justice system never rides a white horse triumphantly in the street with crowds cheering. I don’t know whether it ended sadly though. It just, ended. I think the average Nigerian wouldn’t have been too surprised. I like that the heart of the colonial white man was shown on a platter thereby debunking ‘it’s a Nigerian thing’ mentality. I’ve always been of the opinion that our society is fragile and there’s so much we don’t know. Our arguments in classes, in the markets, on Twitter are not even the tip of the iceberg of happenings. I think I’m right.

Some people say too many elements were incorporated into the movie and it tried too hard. Forgive me, I can’t really say. Maybe I have a bias, maybe I’m surprised that this standard of good came out of our Nollywood Nazareth. On the other hand, maybe this movie is like a buffet, you come, pick whatever tickles your fancy and your taste buds of course, eat, enjoy and leave. This review is grossly incomplete because I don’t want to entirely spoil the movie for you and also because, I’m still chewing my cud.

I think my conclusion is clear enough: you should watch October 1st.

 

26 Aug 2016

To The Naïve Lagosian

The word ‘hustle’ comes fully alive in Lagos. Hustle grows arms and legs and has a breath of its own. Hustle walks down the street with you. Hustle is the sweat that drips down your face. Forgive me, I’m Lagos born and bred but I’ve never felt her in my pores. I’m doing some work in Lagos for a spell and the confines of my home can’t keep me safe anymore. Lagos has thrust her naked body in my eyes.

Here are some helpful tips to the naïve Lagosian:

  1. Do not put your phone, wallet or money in your pocket. Whatever is in your wallet should be expendable. Just don’t try the spirits in Lagos. No matter how deep your pocket runs, just do not tempt them.
  2. If you’re carrying a bag, make sure the zip(s)/lock is/are within eye range. When you look down, you should be able to see the zip/lock of your bag. Anything over your shoulder is at risk. Plus there’s absolutely nothing wrong with carrying your backpack in front.
  3. Always carry extra cash for a cold drink and snack. The sun that shines in Lagos is different from every place. I don’t know how that is but it just is. You don’t want to swoon by the roadside. Nobody will help you by the way, this is a very common sight.
  4. Do not ignore beggars especially the ones with no disability; the ones that can follow you around. Be on high alert if they are kids. Your purse/wallet will be intact but your money/ATM cards will be gone, I promise you. Just give them something and let them leave you alone.
  5. Just let them touch you. There’s little you can do to avoid body contact. In places like Yaba, Ojota, Berger/Oshodi, CMS, Lagos Island , Oke-Arin, Idumota, Aswani, Tejuosho, those Igbo boys will call you (nice) names and touch you. Just get other it. A reaction is what they seek and my my, you don’t want to give it to them.
  6. The best place to sit in public transport is not by the window. I’ve realized this. The back seat is not an option too; you’ll feel every bump the bus feels in your bones.
  7. Conductors/Drivers are not beneath you. They can be a plus to you if you’re extra nice. You want them on your side. Do not raise your voice at them. Ask for your ‘change’ calmly. Do not be a backseat driver. Lagos drivers will never listen to you. They’ve been driving Lagos roads for years without a license.
  8. Shades and an earpiece will save your life. Gone are the days when sunglasses were fashion accessories. Just make sure your phone isn’t in your pocket when your ears are plugged.
  9. Do not buy things on impulse. Lagos will put a hole in your pocket just by walking through her roads if you’re not careful. Keep your eyes straight ahead of you.
  10. Use the bridges please. It’s not only safer, it makes perfect sense. Unless you’re an expert in the zigzag dance. Do not find shame in asking the experts to help you across the roads. They’ll do it gladly.
  11. Walk briskly in Lagos clutching-not-so-tightly to whatever is in your hands. Your cat-walking skills will destroy your shoes, encourage brash body contact and leave you vulnerable to her demons.

 

Dear Naive Lagosian, I hope this helps. These lessons were borne out of an enlightening three day experience. I have eleven more days to go and I’ll keep you posted if there’s anymore.