Ayo’s debut collection of short stories published by DADA Books contains ten stories. These stories vary in style and presentation. But all the stories point towards a direction, a love for the science fiction – or science possibility, a world where almost everything is possible.
But one of my favorites is the story, Misery – a derivation from the technology driven mind of the storyteller. This special story, Misery is a tale that chronicles the living state of a young married couple with all due education, but no jobs. The struggle of rent paying and an almost unfaithfulness of a wife whose husband with a second degree in classical literature hustles, writes projects for politicians in Abuja in order to survive. The story which climaxes at the rage of the once peaceful, all listening husband, is a perfect one that had me laughing and nodding to the real life pictures painted – especially in the commercial bus in Lagos. The entire book seem to love Lagos so much, even when some characters travel, they find their roots back to Lagos. They could be restricted, but I like their simple lives, they were not.
Taking a shot at technology in writing, I live in a time when we can’t deny the total takeover of our planet and society by technology driven businesses, job and minds etc. Ayo explores all with wide imagination and he sure succeeded at them. The stories show his vast knowledge at things people don’t commonly write about.
WARP: The story of Warp is a very interesting one, especially when we are taken to the weird outfit of a proposed scientist (a taxi driver, with an almost broken down vehicle) who is taken for a joke when he expresses certain possibility of his potencies. I love the technology theme. If everyone would write like Ayo in this story, we would have a triple bunch of scientists in the nearest future. I think people aspire to become their favorite characters in stories, like I aspired to be Spider Man after reading several episode of it. We got presented with the practical of all the language spoken and the sweat reached by the passengers that flew with the driver against all possible speculations.
MISERY: I love this story a lot. It reminds me of what people pass through in everyday life as Nigerians, young and educated. Everyone that reads this would identify with the story. The language is simple and its setting is not a new one. But we laugh out loud each time our our real life pictures are painted in prints.
RETURN OF OKINAWA PRINCE: This reminds me of the state of mind of the people that seem to be in authority, especially when they are not, those that may be called pioneers, especially when we lack the right words for them? We see a trainer that feels insulted because a certain group of trainees are busy with routine activities to notice him. We see the African superstition that warrant his swearing and curses. I found it uneasy at the beginning of the story, but as the collection title goes, a fistful, I was banned but to imagine the rest of the story and probably create my own characters that would whip him.
LACERATION: Funny and crazy. There is Karate and all that has to do with fighting. We see a young man caught in the midst of some difficulties and his prompt defense to taking up on them. We really see the fallen of the protagonist in the stories in this collection since they all seem to have something in common. They have the art to fight and protect themselves. How beautiful! And these are my special admirations. I am in love with the game of leg-kicking all what not may. Good story, good fight and good language. And good priest too.
SET THEORY: I disliked Mathematics from its formative days in my young life. And I have not grown to love now, anyways. But the order as given by the old man who had gone up the mountain to find solution for the community was really humorous. It was a short and crazy one too. He is my perfect bastard.
SPECIAL SECRETARY: I think the title withered the entire perfection on the choice of storytelling, but this is one great story especially because I like the type of women described in the story. And I see a lot of under tone and themes that could be exploited by wannabe writers, script scribblers etc. This story is a good one. There are a load of morals and immoral choices for the reader too. I could not jump any further after I learned that the man who had abused his wife under no just cause paid wholesomely for it. What a splendid way of telling the story. And the characters were as fishy as fishes in the creeks of the Niger Delta too. Funny me? Everyone in the story seemed real. And I could relate with them, shake hands and tell them “I want it too!”
IT HAPPENED IN BENIN: Good poetry. Good mental pictures created. And the description of the road being eaten up by the driver a hungry prisoner? I owe the poet a lot.
LOTS OF MUSCLE LOST OF BLOOD: I first read this in the Weaverbird Collection, a published collection of contemporary short stories as published by Farafina. It highlights what human ego can cause and also the disposition of the young married man, the fusses that come afterwards and the quest to go back to being a bachelor, and the grip of other women to doing all the describable and not written things with any loosed man. I like the fact that it was either a dream or some hallucination and that the household was actually intact. I like that Ghana scene. I love the description of the stage and the striking of chords on the acoustic guitar. I felt like a visitor to the word of music especially without such mental description. A good job. But I wish the lady at the bar had focused more attention on me, the reader rather than the man that wasn’t finding the hospitality comfortable. I would have found it all comfortable, trust me. I would have stayed back in Ghana and turned another ‘Peter Tosh’. Good story with a lot underlining facts of how some foreigners are maltreated in certain lands despite their contributions? I think this would really help form a part of a treaty on racism in Africa by Africans.
MY SUPERHERO STORY: One of my all time best. I love the storyline. I wish we had the equipments to make this into a feature film; I would play the lead character, direct and produce it! The guy is crazy. But I am not a good artist. I would improvise. Or attend a class, somewhere. Or make a friend at the YabaTech. Wow! What a story. I could see the Big Man. He was so crazy and well described that he is like the Big Brother in the Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, the novel. A lot was actually happening especially amongst the super rich folks that they use seeming humanitarian works to cover up. But the end was watery. Apologizes oh. I wanted better scenes and a better ending. I love the part where he met 007 wizard, James Bond and the interaction and all that. It reminds me of Genevieve Nnaji who’s rumored to be lined to play the next ‘chic’ with the 007. Cool pictures. I like it a lot.
THE X12 MOON-SHADE: The writer wanted to scare me. But I think I scared him by not buying the fiction. It’s not the bad one in the book. There is none.
A Fistful of Tales is a good book, pocket size, nice design, weird animation – it is a total package. It passes for a science fiction. Buy and enjoy it, the future would be better.
Nwilo Bura-Bari Vincent