Ben Okri: Tales of Freedom



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Or will be a complete bore I almost feel like the cover of this book should have included a Warning imagination reuired label This book eserves a genre of its own This was a strange collection for me I have been meaning to read something by Ben Okri for a long time and this was the only one available in my tiny local library I went into this short story collection knowing nothing about it apart from it having a below average rating on Goodreads and that Ben Okri is a Booker winning authorThe first story of a novella at 108 pages long reminded me of Waiting for Godot in that I was hooked but I Shooting for a Century didn t have a clue what was going on and Ion t think the characters I, Partridge did either Belonging was a brilliant story that reminded me of the plot of The Accidental by Ali Smith which I haven t actually read yet The third story The Mysterious Anxiety of Them and Us was completely forgettable and though the idea was a good oneidn t really go anywhere Then towards the end The War Healer was interesting but apart from that the stories were not very memorable The tone was very similar throughout the collection so I feel that they all blended togetherOverall I was Shadow of the Templar disappointed in my first experience of Ben Okri s work and I m unsure when I will get around to anything else by this author Didn t like it much The first portion was better than the rest after reading the whole thing And got introduced a new form called stoku that is haiku and story together It isescribed thus in the book Its origin is mysterious its purpose is relvelation its form compact its subject infinite Its nature is enigma as it finds tentative form in fiction like the figure materialising from a cloud or a being emerging from a vaporous block of marble I Unforgiven (Warriors for the Light didn t like any of the stokus either The language is not my kind The blurb says of it that the author brings together poetry and story in a fascinating new form which offers a key to the true spirit of our times Refined over many years these stories areeceptively simple They are to be slowly savoured a new kind of music is being played They point towards Buried Sins (The Three Sisters Inn, deeper truth a transcendent way of looking at our extreme gritty existence No thanks i would prefer my Camus for this purpose And maybe it is that it s aifferent kind of music that is being played and i Six Days in Leningrad don t have the ability to appreciate or understand it but i am certain that it is not my kind of music The blurb continues Each tale is a tiny epic aelicate world in itself When strung together they form a necklace of enigmas and offer unusual glimpses of freedom I The Darkness didn t see any of this in the book Freedom was really far away and i reallyidn t understand why it was named Tales of Freedom too But i Flyboy do intend to read The Famished Road as part of my Booker Prize series This was a strange book The first part The Comic Destiny was a parable of sorts but with such profound meaning that it was lost on me But it was written with concise prose It was very uick to read Rest of the stories were stokus A Stoke as author informs you is amalgam of short story and haiku I liked stories The Belonging Wild Bulls The Legendary Sedgwick The Clock There were some metaphorical stokus too Some interesting uotes it is always the harmless uestions that cause the most trouble 35 This bookivided to 2 main parts Part 1 contains The Comic Destiny which have 5 chapters or it was called Books and Part 2 contains 13 short stories in the form of stokus short story haiku Each chapter stoku is really short Definitely a fast read but the content itself reminded me of literature books we used back in high school You read but you A Dark Sicilian Secret don t get it you need someone to explain it to you My brain had a lot of thinking going on to a point where it s easy to beistracted and forget what you re thinking before I think I get the message it s trying to relay from the writing I had to google it just to be certain The first part give the message that is uite strong Whether we realize it or not we are slaves to something to our work to our place in social circle to social media and to Wolf Creek Homecoming (Wolf Creek desires It s relevant to anyone at any level of slavery imprisonment and at any time The story also poke fun of the wayifferent generations think of Black Beech and Honeydew: An Autobiography different things some of us are being unmoved from our believe system even when it s irrational However the way the story was told is REALLY confusing and that s my only complai. Ory they offer aifferent transcendent way of looking at our extreme gritty world.

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I on t know how healthy it is to review a book I read in little over two hours last night but here goes there s something odd at work in these short tales of freedom They are evasive slippery and almost gaseous in substance They pass through you like a ghost making you shiver with the tiniest fleck of what it might be I on t even think they want to be understood in the conventional way so they neatly side step the maw of theoretical analysis I groped and groped for the bridging element between them as is usually the norm for a collection of short stories but found none There are a total of 14 micro narratives that include The Comic Destiny a literary mash up of Dante s The Divine Comedy and Beckett s Waiting for Godot The Racial Colourist an absurd scenario of racial categorisation evocative of Huxley s Brave New World and The Golden Inferno a very clever parable on ignorance and third world povertyThis was a very uick read owing to the generous spacing between the lines and the shortness of some pieces Even though I had trouble understanding what Okri meant with some of these stories I am nevertheless convinced every one of them were written with a very Oh Baby! definite moral lesson in mind My usual choice of fiction being of the literary type might have meant I m a little handicapped when faced with stories of a poetic ilk which means I ll probably beiving into Tales of Freedom at a leisurely pace As I said the stories are themed around concepts of freedom but with some I failed to see how they could be classed as such The language was also very sparse and plain I got a sense that Okri was playing around with the bare nuts and bolts of story telling even less than that possibly with a single transcendental idea like he was trying to Her Rancher Hero (Saddlers Prairie, distill pure emotion into words At times the sparcity of the text was so great that whatever half baked conclusion I was trying to arrive at just fell through in the end There are in short gaps in these narratives and those gaps were probably put there on purpose If there is one thing a reader cannot stand and I know this from myself is an omittance a story without a core It s our comfort point a homebase both reader and writer touches mid way through a tale Without this the reader writer relationship suffers aisconnection and this is what I felt with Tales of Freedom Okri The Maid of Lorne does make a mention of this kind of writing in the book itself refering to it as stoku A stoku is an amalgam of short story and haiku It is a story as it inclines towards a flash of a moment insight vision or paradox stokus are serendipities caught in the air reverse lightningI leave it to you to make what you will of Okri s little note on the form but the stoku certainly played tricks on my mind forcing me in the end to read into or fabricate my own morals from the frustrating transparency of some of his stories Honestly can t make out what the author wants to convey Not my cup of tea Justidn t really get it The first story Comic Destiny has a beautiful rhythm Each chapter is very short as fragmented but as a whole they convey a gentle feeling of a journey to freedomThe other short stories in the concern ifferent forms of freedom freedom from material fixation from prejudice and from oppression Some are very I found the first part of this book like being in a ream it How to Become a Virgin doesn t uiet make sense but in the moment of experiencing it everything is so vidid and real that it all seems to The book s first story are in Stokus a hybrid of story and haikus whereby the explanation to Stokus would have been much helpful at the beginning of rather than at the end of The Comic Destiny I found The Comic Destiny very opportune for reflection on politics where 1 Older generations are curious for answers buto not want to hear answers of the truth2 People face Dangerous Disguise (Cavanaugh Justice, denial of their own wrongdoings and often take liberty in skewing reality to suit their peace of mind 3 Momentary peace between parties will always be momentary and therein the moment lies hope that things will change but also hopes that it will not4 Man represented those lost fearful of what they can t see andon t know convinced that they The Bosss Baby Surprise do noteserve any better forever misunderstood He lives in irony pessimism finding the negative in every positive incapacitated by circumstances He is the average man bored and finding those who o not offer him attention insignificant Never. Tales of Freedom offers a haunting necklace of images which flash and sparkle as

Interested enough to be convicted5 Married life is about iscovery about pushing each other s limits and the strive for understanding between man and woman allowing both to grow together is what keeps a relationship together There will always be new things to Command Performance discover of each other to understand It highlights how man and woman shareisparity in perspectives over the very same event even of the love they share and the meaning of comfort in a relationship There is a never ending Loveknot (Welcome to Tyler, dream of comfort in a world where two people have only each other and the thought of a third party is welcoming6 Ignorance is bliss sometimes even necessary7 Men and women plays parodies in life Women tend to be ambitious men prefer the simpler things Men prefer less talk and women are go getters Men affectionate women objective Women impatient men tender Men want recognition women areismissive Despite familiarity breeding contempt the struggle to reach a mutual state between two people will always persist but without each other both are eventless 8 Communal hardship will eventually foster a bond between rivals and each s presence and role will be slighted with fondness and acceptance Over time we take on our rivals point of view habits and customs 9 In reality there is beyond ourselves and our stories But until they interact they are at best left Peace is found in ignorance peace is found in acceptance peace is found in what we know returning to comfort zones or being the master of our own ship by forging our own paths peace is found in your other half peace is found in reality and the truth peace is found in re birth 10 Perspectives make The Perfect Blend difference in happiness Belonging reminds me of my youngerays when I would admire the wisdom of elderly yet at the same time am grateful for my youth The revelation of our youth and potential is always refreshing motivating self inspiring However as it has than once happened to myself when we set ourselves towards a wrong estination in life it is always advisable to avoid following through to such estinations at any cost Golden inferno sets a scene very similar to that having an elephant in the room Citizens are living in ignorance of a Wanted (Sealed with a Kiss dead cow the euivalent of an elephant in the sewer and what had to beone was so repulsive that no one stepped forward to Rayuan Sang Bos [Seduced By the Boss] do anything about it It wasn t until someoneecided to bring change that others slowly follow It only takes one person to Bachelor to the Rescue (Home to Dover, do the right thing to bring courage to others A great irony for the term herd mentality if it applied The secret castle makes me envision a cultural trap This story was about a curious boy and a girl who knew her place in the world The story symbolises that friendship and admiration can flourishespite Secrets At Maple Syrup Farm differences in background and culture I find in this story lingers a subtle hint of gender euality where young women are watched over and protected to a stifling boredom The war healer is as simple as it gets where in the midst of chaos and bloodbath there will also be someone championing a great cause This person willo what he Whispers Of The Heart does out of calling and will continue too it even without recognition and rest The message is the last short story in the book and aptly so I had to read this story twice to affirm that it is about life and its temptations on focus and of reaching goals It The Dukes Gamble describeselayed gratification that moment in time when you shake your Unmasking the Marquess (Hold Your Breath, desires off and selfoubt and urge on because you know you have to keep your focus because you know that the bounty at the end of your goal is much sweeter It is only when you have reached the end of your struggle that you realise that the journey was life itself At the end of the journey the fulfilment of having lived your life the right way brings freedom and peace I would liken it to the feeling of finishing your assignment way ahead of its Let Go dueate and having a great time partying while others struggle to finish it last minuteAs a whole The Comic Destiny is befittingly entitled however the comicality turned to flaky towards the end As some readers have mentioned rugs may have been involved in the birth of this story When taken literally the other stories were stoical at best A great book if you have enough energy to let your mind wander and to be bothered to read between the lines for that extra good sueeze from Okri s stories Reading these stories as they are will not make sense. He light shines on them uick and stimulating to read but slowly burning in the mem.

Poet and novelist Ben Okri was born in 1959 in Minna northern Nigeria to an Igbo mother and Urhobo father He grew up in London before returning to Nigeria with his family in 1968 Much of his early fiction explores the political violence that he witnessed at first hand during the civil war in Nigeria He left the country when a grant from the Nigerian government enabled him to read Comparative