I was introduced to Igoni Barret when I read BlackAss, which I thought was a very good read. So I wasn’t hesitant when it came to reading his collection of short stories, Love Is Power Or Something Like That; I was already familiar with his writing style and his technique in weaving his stories.
I enjoyed reading this book, but the difference between his short story collection and the novel BlackAss was very clear; in BlackAss, he had become a very confident writer who knew his voice and was not afraid to use it, whereas in Love Is Power Or Something Like That, I could sense some insecurity and hesitation.
Igoni has a way with words; he has a talent that very few writers have but one which all storytellers should pray for. He paints a very strong picture in the mind of his readers with his words, so much so that you are transported right to the plot and feel like you are in the story. The book opens with The Worst Thing That Happened, which told a story of the empty nest syndrome, of loneliness associated with aging, a story of abandonment. The story was so graphic that it tugged at my heart strings, and at some point, I picked up my phone to call my mother to nearly apologize for not visiting her as much as I would love to. Dream Chaser takes you back to when we just discovered internet romance. And in The Shape Of A Full Circle, we are introduced to a child who is forced into adulthood by the alcoholism of his mother.
Love Is Power Or Something Like That, the short story which became titular for the book, stood out for me with a very familiar story woven around a character all of us will most certainly recognize – the policeman who becomes another person once he dons his uniform. There is a hilarious story about halitosis, and there was Godspeed And Perpetua, which read almost like a novella and left me with a very strong impression.
The thing I have come to like most about Igoni is that he takes on strong themes that resonate in the society today, but he is very subtle about it so much that your attention is not drawn away from the story even though the highlighted issue is strong enough to be noticed. In this book, he went from statutory rape to dysfunctional marriages, to patriarchy, police brutality and even race. Each one was subtle but woven expertly into the story in such a way that it does not distract from the story itself.
When I read Jude Idada’s A Box Of Chocolates, I was impressed by how the stories sort of segued into one another and had some symmetry to each other. However my first impression of Love Is Power Or Something Like That was that the stories were not related and that they were a bit disjointed. I later discovered that I was wrong; Igoni did weave the stories around sort of similar themes, and in typical Igoni style, the symmetry was so subtle that you could almost miss it. In fact, it was almost as if some of the stories continued where some others stopped; The Shape Of A Full Circle seemed to me like it was a continuation of Godspeed And Perpetua; I felt like the alcoholic mother was Perpetua’s daughter conceived from rape, which would explain why she detested the child. This is of course my imagination running wild, but I would like to think I am correct.
In all, this book was a good read; it starts off complex at first, but when you get right into it, you see the stories for what they are – real, vivid, a journey into the complexities of human behavior through the lens of a master storyteller.
But love does not mean marriage, a baby, forever. Love means you make me happy until you don’t.
The above phrase stood out for me. And this book deserves a three star rating.
Written by Franklyne Ikediasor