I have never really been a fan of short story collections; I often think they are like someone giving you scoops of ice cream but never letting you take the entire can to enjoy all on your own. What usually happens is that as soon as you are settling into loving and enjoying the story, it abruptly ends. Some schools of thought however argue that a collection of short stories saves you the anguish of enduring a bad book, as you can always skip the stories you don’t like and relish the ones you love.
I approached A Box Of Chocolates with some reservation, majorly because of the aforementioned reason, and then because I did not really know much about the writer, Jude Idada. However Jude Idada surprised me with this small book and completely won me over. The stories are fast paced, relatable and mirror real human situations, with very strong and real characters that you could almost recognize.
As with all short story collections however, it is a mix of hits and misses, but in this case there are far more hits than there are misses. All through eighteen stories in total, Jude takes you on a journey that peaks at some points and cascades to the bottom at some others. I dare say that that Jude is fearless; he took on some very controversial subjects that some of us like to pretend don’t exist and many of us prefer to forget – such stories as slavery (especially with the complicity of Africans in the trade), homosexuality and repressive military governments, which were constant features on the continent of Africa in the 80s and 90s.
The book opens with A Will Is A Will, the story of a man who completely disinherited his immediate family upon his death (which I found quite hilarious), to the even more humorous Oyinbo, a funny case of a con artist being conned, down to the very scary Messenger Of Death, which bears a very strong resemblance to Shoeless Night by Femi Oloidi. Jude also took on a different twist to Ola Rotimi Williams’ The Gods Are Not To Blame in Dilemma Of A Coach, and his final story Bottom Power, he left me completely confused at the end.
Jude selected a few themes and wove majority of his stories around them, so even though the stories are not related, they sort of flow into one another. I must say that some of the stories have no substance and some are downright silly; however even Chimamanda Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck wowed me with all the stories in them. So, I would say that this is a very good book. Jude Idada is a very descriptive writer with a very vivid imagination, and more than a few times while reading, I felt my heart race and my pulse quicken.
This is a book definitely worth buying and putting on your bookshelf, and I definitely look forward to reading his novel, By My Own Hands. After all that’s said and done, you really cannot ruin a box of chocolates anyway.
Written by Franklyne Ikediasor