Book title: “Lost”
Publisher: Book Cracks
Year of Publication: 2019
Reviewer: Taofeek Ayeyemi (Aswagaawy)
The concept of ‘Lost’ is often attended with the negative impression to always imply deprivation from the possession of valuable thing(s) or missing one’s way or path, and other attribute of negativity.
In any event, the concept of lost is like electricity with the positive and negative cords, without either of which any electrical appliance won’t work. To put it clearly, when a house is electrified and the residents enjoy the coolness from Air Conditioner and/or the coldness or preservative blessing of a refrigerator, they give the kudos to electricity. But when one of the residents gets electrocuted, electricity becomes a jinx. Such is the concept of lost.
In the Yorùbá parlance, when someone leaves his home and travels farther in search of greener pasture, he is said to be lost. When a person finds himself flailing in the midst of decision making or initializing ideas, he is said to be lost. But getting lost is a blessing if one can find himself, his resource or gets his way back to his source in the end of his year or lifelong adventure. Little wonder the anthology is dedicated to “. . . everyone who is lost and is finding their way.”
This postulation seems to resonate with the collectors of this anthology as can be seen from a paragraph that appears to be the introduction into the anthology which reads “I read somewhere once, that we are never really lost. Just drifting, searching, claiming new places to belong . . .” Although it ends with a sentence that almost takes a U-turn from the concept which is “. . .but how can that be true if the only place I have ever belonged is home, with the lot of you,” it doesn’t take it out of principle. Thus, how can one be home and be lost? The answer is not farfetched from the above postulation that to be lost is not strictly location-based, it can be in respect of decision and/or idea.
The foregoing will therefore take us into the anthology through the story of Aisha Oredola titled “Found” which hits the concept at its core. In “Found,” the author tells the tales of Ara who, in search of emotional, bodily and psychological satisfaction, strayed to a place she was greeted with “Welcome to the world of the lost ones. Here, you actually find yourself.” Pg. 38.
In this piece, we establish that if there’s anything that has lost man the most, it is love. Ironically, it has also put aright the misguided: “What’s the secret to being found?” / “Love.” I whisper. “Love in all its entirety. Love for one’s self no matter the consequences. / Love for others, even if they may be undeserving. Love radiating love.” / “Good.” She says. “Any other secrets?” Pg. 46. Whereas, apart from love, other discovery secrets are embedded in the story.
“Gone,” another story by the above author, seems to be purely didactic as evident in the characteristics of Kehinde save the irony which are her sibling, the gone Taiwo and the aftermath of her hypocritic parents. This piece further evokes the author’s narrative skillfulness which is effective, disruptive, filled with aha moments and sense of humour.
“Rebirth” by Olaolu Olowo gives a soft spot due to its elegantly and masterly crafted set of interesting sceneries. It has a unique event narrated in the way of an author who knows his onions. The author’s play of word and attention to details are worthy of kudos:
“That celibacy streak of yours. I’m going to break it.”
“This ship would break first.” Pg. 95
Also, you’ll find suspense, imaginary comeliness and imaginative spree well interspersed in the piece. And as beautiful and enjoyable as the piece is, there are scary sceneries strongly evoking the theme of lost.
“After a few minutes, the waters become agitated and a gigantic shape comes out, wading with purposeful strides to the beach. I open my mouth to say something but the words freeze in my throat as moonlight shines off the beast, a humanoid creature with long ropy tentacles dangling from its head, and six muscular hands. It stretches its hands and picks off some of the people snoring away and swallows them . . .” Pg. 97.
Another outstanding story is “The Psychedelic Named Vivian” which is a teary story of a brilliant wealthy chap who lost everything to a spellbinding Vivian, all his promising prospect made it to the bottom of hell, a tumultuous end. The author creatively reveals “Patient is one of the group of patients suspected to be under the influence of VVN (Vaviarn), a long term-acting potent drug which induces a kind of long term amnesia which induces blurry vision, short bursts of aggression, unbury memories in fragments and victims may think there is a conspiracy against them.”
Apparently, girlhood and love are the dominant themes in this anthology often recalling the high spirit of desperation that possesses girls’ minds when inebriated with the liquor of love and how their spellbinding self can lost a lustful soul; vis-a-vis juvenile delinquencies, youthful exuberance and everything in between.
Although “Listen, Olaoluwa” by Adetona Mariam Omolayo portrays the combination of the physical, psychological and spiritual aspect of the lost concept in its sense of negativity, the narration appears aimless and lost. Also, “Lost II” by Sofiyat Oyesanya needs a little tweak to attain the spirit and quality of the works in the anthology. There are too many unconnected dots in the narratives.
As you pick the anthology, look out for the beautiful short nonfiction piece “Soul Repair” by Alaa M. Ali whose aesthetics will relive your moment and make you an enlivened tulip. We also have stellar poems written by the griot themselves such as “Lost But Found,” “Lost But Not forgotten,” “Love Lost” all by Sandy; and especially the beautifully crafted “Insanity” by Reemah Abdel.
In as much as I’ll love to boast that the anthology aced it, I’ll however note that the anthology lacks editorial blessing. I believe any anthology should be collected and/or edited by a group of persons who should serve as the face or head to the publishing body – which in this case is “Book Cracks.” The absence of Editorial Board or person(s) to welcome us into the anthology, introduce us to the journey we’re about to embark on and edit the few but forgivable errors that almost make a Lazarus of the anthology, makes it appear like one that is collected in a hurry and sliced down into pages.
This also underscores the poor arrangement and order of the works in the anthology. If the substance of a work is qualitative but the form is weak, it can sink the good work. It’s like writing an academic essay without abstract, proper referencing, justifying and other important formatting techniques. Or can you enter a clean sea whose shore is filled with dungs? This might appear as mere technicality, but a poor form is an embarrassment to substance.
Be that as it may, having painstakingly perused this anthology, I have the place to say “Lost” is an excellent collection you have to read. You’ll find a chronicle of events that represent the coming of age of a social consciousness (of the authors) cooked with various spices of realism and a call for renaissance.
Taofeek Ayeyemi fondly called Aswagaawy is a Nigerian lawyer and writer. His works are featured and/or forthcoming in Tuck Magazine, The Quills, Cicada’s Cry, Akitsu Quarterly, Stardust Haiku, Modern Haiku, Failed Haiku, Speaking Heart, The Quills, Frogpond, Cattails, Seashores, Presence, The Mamba and elsewhere. He won the PoeticWednesday Poetry Contest, 2018; First Runner-up Okigbo Poetry Prize (2016) and Honorable Mention Prize in the 1st Morioka International Haiku Contest, 2019 among others.