Fifty-Two Friday: Bar Beach Show by E. C. Osondu

Title: Bar Beach Show by E. C. Osondu
Date Read: 14th January 2011
Briefly: The narrator tells of the time as a thirteen-year-old, when his father took him along with his brother, to witness the public execution on Lagos’s Bar Beach, of the notorious armed gang fronted by Lawrence “The Law” Anini.
Afterthoughts: This is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of reading anything to have come from the pen of Nigerian writer, Osondu (winner of the 2009 Caine Prize for African Literature), and it most definitely won’t be the last. In Bar Beach Show Osondu brings together a couple of key incidents in recent(ish) Lagosian history, and together with a gentle sprinkling of Nigerian culture he creates the basis for a very memorable story. It’s the brutality of this story that perhaps makes it unforgettable, but it is the breakdown of a father/son relationship that gives it its real potency. Highly recommended!
Notable Quote: One of the robbers, his name was Victor Osunbor, was actually crying. He was said to be the best shot of all the robbers and could shoot accurately while steering their getaway car with one hand. His teardrops mixed with the sweat that was running down his face and the mucus from his nose, turning his face into a dark slippery mess.

Rating: ★★★★☆

This time last year…

Title: Cricket Hymn by Thad DeVassie
Date Read: 14th January 2011
Briefly: A catastrophic event has brought the world to its knees, and the mutilated landscape is presented before us.
Afterthoughts: One can only imagine how difficult it must be to paint a world in only three paragraphs, yet in the 160 words that DeVassie’s has chosen for his work of flash fiction, he’s managed to paint as vivid and wholly ominous a post-apocalyptic picture, as anything Cormac McCarthy did in The Road. Quite remarkable really.
Notable Quote: In the distance, we hear crickets rolling up in their makeshift wheelchairs, novices learning to play tiny violins. Surely they don’t know the murder ballads or a single funeral march. How could they with their repertoire amputated, all but erased? Yet from a distance, it sounds as if they are composing a gorgeous hymn for the end of the world.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The reason for Fifty-Two Friday’s existence is a simple one: to acknowledge and support Harper Perennial’s kindness and effort in offering readers around the world free access to some of the greatest storytellers past and present, through their Fifty-Two Stories website.

Every Friday the current week’s offering on Fifty-Two Stories is read and reviewed, along with the story that was presented at the same time, last year (2010). Fellow readers are encouraged to participate whenever possible, and to offer up their own opinions on each week’s featured stories.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn’t bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


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