BookBrowse Reviews Love Is Power, or Something Like That by A. Igoni Barrett

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Love Is Power, or Something Like That

Stories

by A. Igoni Barrett

Love Is Power, or Something Like That by A. Igoni Barrett
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    May 2013, 176 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Christian Tubau

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Set in contemporary Nigeria, this searing collection of short stories beautifully sheds light on the human condition

Award-winning author A. Igoni Barrett's Love Is Power, or Something Like That is without a doubt, a very original, surprising and captivating collection of short stories.

Born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, in 1979, Barrett draws an enlightened portrait of the current reality of his country. The stories offer an unprejudiced view close to the street, and include references to contemporary elements such as cell phones, the Internet and modern music.

The essence of the book is folded – as in a Chinese fan – in the bold and suggestive title: Love Is Power and more precisely within the second part, Or Something Like That. Traveling with the characters through adventures and mishaps, the reader soon realizes that these are not conventional love stories – and that nobody really knows what love is.

This is apparent because of the clearly unsentimental voices of the different narrators. An artful distance, a dispassionate detachment – not bereft of compassion – permeates the language; and leaves in the reader the bittersweet and amazed sensation similar to the one experienced after reading the tales of Dubliners by James Joyce. There are no happy endings, fulfilling climaxes, or easy morals. There are only remnants of intertwined lives, human landscapes, and cries resounding through dark corridors, as the ones we hear in the story about painful familial love and the solitude of an aging couple, in "Godspeed and Perpetua"; or in "The Worst Thing That Happened," a tale about the unreciprocated love of an old woman for her children.

Many of Igoni Barrett's stories are strikingly searing ones: tales of withering love, of abandonment and oblivion, of mistreatment and injustice, of poverty and power abuse. In some cases, they can be as heart-rending as some of Chekhov's tales (like "The Peasants") or Kenzaburo Oe's ("A Personal Matter"). In other instances, desperation is subtler, and the stories can be read more lightly, even with humor (such as "My Smelling Mouth Problem", the tale of the inner drama of a man whose halitosis prevents him from talking with anybody during his long trips in the crowded city buses; or "Dream Chaser", a story about the thirst for love from a distance).

Thus, in the book, love is not at all an Apollonian, luminous, romantic feeling. It is more like an uncut diamond – to be found within violence, evil, destitution, grief. This is the love of survivors, of those who find in it the hope of last resort amid the shipwreck of their lives.

It is not only in the description of these emotions, or in a realistic recreation of the historical context, where the reader finds the book's main virtue. The most impressive thing about Love Is Power is the writing itself - the almost obsessive attention to detail that, according to Vladimir Nabokov, distinguishes the talented writer from the others.

Interwoven in the fabric of these profound human (sometimes too human) stories, the reader can find a myriad references to trivial objects: colors ("yellow-fever eyes", "goat-shit-green bushes"), noises ("the whirr and screak of the ceiling fan," "the hum of the refrigerator") and smells ("the air stank of old urine," "she gave off the smell of kerosene smoke"). Every room has a particular scent and sound. Every color has a singular nuance or tinge, wrought through a rich use of adjectives: "skin...the color of polished camwood" or "knuckles...the color of healed bruises." Although sometimes too descriptive, these perceptive observations contribute to the the book's rich intensity.

The quality and richness of the writing and the human depth of the stories, makes Love Is Power a very recommendable read, and the author an indisputably promising literary figure who should be closely followed and enjoyed.

Reviewed by Christian Tubau

This review is from the June 19, 2013 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Rebellion
    Rebellion
    by Molly Patterson
    Rebellion overlays the stories of four women, spanning a century and the globe in their wide ...
  • Book Jacket: Genuine Fraud
    Genuine Fraud
    by E Lockhart
    Do we ever really know who our friends are? Or what the truth is? After all, truth, like beauty is ...
  • Book Jacket: Jumping at Shadows
    Jumping at Shadows
    by Sasha Abramsky
    In September 2015, fourteen-year old Ahmed Mohamed was thrust into the national spotlight when the ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Love and Other Consolation Prizes
    by Jamie Ford

    Inspired by a true story, about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle's epic 1909 World's Fair.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Twelve-Mile Straight
    by Eleanor Henderson

    An audacious epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If the Creek Don't Rise

If the Creek Don't Rise

A debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y Can't M A S P O O A S E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.