Genre Fiction: Short Stories.
Blurb “Nights of the Creaking Bed is full of colorful characters involved in affecting dramas: a girl who is rejected in love because she has three brothers to look after; a middle aged housewife who finds love again but has an impossible decision to make; a young man who can’t get the image of his naked, beautiful mother out of his mind; a child so poor he has to hawk onions on Christmas day – and many others. Some, initially full of hope, find their lives blighted by the cruelty of others, or by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or by just not knowing the “right” people.
Corruption, religious intolerance, gratuitous violence, the irresponsible attitudes of some men to their offspring and the importance of joy are some of the big themes that underlie this memorable collection.”
Dialogue Well-written and believable. Written in English and Nigerian Pidgin and colloquialisms.
Themes Coming of Age, Power and Corruption, Death, Family, Justice, Loss and Violence.
Editing Well edited.
Plot The book opens with ‘Strangers.’ A story about the undue fear of people not familiar to us in our community. It reminds one of Jungle Justice by Somi Ekhasomhi.
‘The Passion of Pololo,’ is a story of Paul and how a childhood trauma caused him to develop an Oedipus Complex.
In ‘My Perfect Life,’ a middle-aged woman has to make a difficult choice between family and happiness.
‘The Harbinger,’ is a story of love, duty and loss.
‘Broda Sonnie,’ highlights the scourge of religious intolerance.
In ‘Nights of the Creaking Bed,’ Andy learns that ‘sometimes, the verbal pain we inflict on others can scar us for life.’
‘The Echo of Silence,’ desperate times call for desperate measures.
‘God is Listening,’ is about choices or the lack of choices.
In ‘Ahmed,’ a dream trip ends tragically.
‘Buzz, seeks justice in a society where there are two sets of rules; one for the rich and one for the poor.
‘Onions,’ is a story of deprivation and loss.
‘The Devil’s Overtime,’ highlights the back stories of street children in Lagos.
‘The Car They Borrowed,’ is about a corrupt police force.
‘Sad Eyes,’ is about self-preservation and what this may cost others.
In ‘The Phone Call Goodnight,’ a loving wife takes extreme measures to try and save her husband.
What worked? This is an engaging collection of fifteen short stories written in easy to understand English. The stories are mostly written in first person, although the writing style differs according to the characters narrating. For instance, in ‘Strangers,’ the writing style is conversational with the narrator occasionally asking questions as though he is conversing with the reader.
The stories mostly focus on life in Lagos as experienced by the lower class. Most of the stories are jarring and uncomfortable to read as they highlight certain realities and taboos that one would rather not acknowledge or speak about.
Some stories also employ the use of flashback to add context to the narration. The stories are familiar but in a good way. It’s easy to see them as the everyday experiences and realities of some. The storytelling is fluid and holds the reader’s attention.
The stories are also heavily themed on loss, whether it’s death or loss of innocence or as in ‘God is Listening, a loss of options as the protagonist finds solace in her rapist.
Away from the heavy melancholic feeling of loss, one will appreciate this well-written collection with believable characters that you will easily connect with.
What didn’t work?
Mo In ‘Strangers,’ the narrator/protagonist meandered into a tale in his office that I felt didn’t do anything to enhance the plot of the story.
Lady B I think with everything else going on in the world right now, this wasn’t the best time for me to read a book that had so much suffering in it. So, while I appreciated the good writing, I did get tired of all hardship experienced by the characters.
My least favourite story was “Onions.” I just wasn’t able to connect with it.
Number of pages 192.
Publisher Cassava Republic.
Damage $10.30 on Amazon.
Have you read Night of the Creaking Beds? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.