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- Literature in the North: A review of Mujahid Ameen Lilo’s City of Smoke
- Of flash fictions: Review of Vincent de Paul’s Flashes of Vice: Volume 1
- The mind of the child: Nilanjana Haldar’s Quiet Screams to the Quiet Healer
- Helon Habila’s Measuring Time: Africa’s history as narrative
Last Updated on April 4, 2020 by Memorila
Vincent de Paul’s Flashes of Vice (Vol. 1) tells fleeting stories of love, crime, sex, death and politics, which leave readers salivating for more, Ubaji Isiaka Abubakar Eazy reviews
When I arrived at the final page of Vincent de Paul’s Flashes of Vice, I was quite livid. Reading the numerous pieces of flash fictions made me feel the joy of a mother who had just been delivered of a baby, only to later become sad because she was immediately told it was a stillborn. What I saw was a mind filled with ideas but not fully exploited like a cow not well milked. I saw the inception of numerous novels that ended too quickly.
Reading the flash fictions made me wonder how such number of ideas and stories could be mined from one mind. And I would plead that the author pick up these stories and build them into novels, at least to satisfy my curiosity on how many of the characters end up. Right now, I am the disgruntled fox admiring the apple it cannot reach. Here is a Moses looking upon the Promised Land he would never step into. Vincent took me on a pleasure trip and gleefully dropped me off midway, I now stand inert; unable to return whence I came or advance to the final destination.
I must confess that I have never liked the idea of flash fiction, and cannot say I like it even now. My position is: give me everything or give me nothing at all. This is also perhaps why I do not like reading stories in episodes (it is not worth it if I have to wait indefinitely for the next episode while the suspense keeps strangulating me).
To judge a story, I always like to know its beginning, climax, and end. I also always want to be allowed enough time to fraternise with the characters, get to know them more, understand how they reason, why they reason so, and enter into the world they live in. But Vincent disallows this fraternisation by pushing me into another story as soon as I arrive at the end of one, like a man jumping from one train carriage to another. There is no doubt that Vincent de Paul is a talented writer with a mind brimming with ideas but his collection of flash fictions leaves me feeling like Oliver Twist: ‘Please sir, I want some more’.
Nevertheless, the very brief but numerous tales in Flashes of Vice are scintillating, fascinating and picturesque. They bother on love, revenge, crime, death, sex, politics, terrorism, Africa versus the West, religion, and so on.
As they are rightly called, flash fictions are striking narrations of fleeting scenes that tell you far more than the mere words on paper can tell. I used to think this feat was the main preserve of poetry till I met Vincent’s collection of flash fictions.
Vincent weaves his tale around Africa and I especially love the futuristic tales he tells. While most of our story tellers are still strictly fixated in the past, Vincent is dreaming up Africa’s future and that of the world.
Aside this, Vincent also shows us a chaotic world where fathers rape children, a world filled with prostitution, terrorism, exploitation, kidnapping and other vices. Somehow, he reminds me of the American thriller writers like James Patterson as I peruse those tales of assassination of presidents and suicide bombings on the African soil. Yet, most of the issues his tales identifies are not to mirror American thriller writers for they are the realities of the times we live in. Kenya, as numerous other African countries, has been subject to terrorist attacks in recent years and Vincent only simply delves into the minds of these terrorists and their modus operandi.
While the story should rightly not be subjected to the litmus test of morality, I still have to say that I do not like the fact that majority of the stories terminates in the triumph of evil over good. I wish the writer had either struck a balance or let good win more often.
Finally, we live in such a busy world where many barely have time to pick up novels and peruse it to the final pages. And this is where Vincent de Paul’s Flashes of Vice becomes handy. It can help reignite the passion for reading among young adults and adult business people. It takes no more than two or three minutes to read each tale to the end and there is that feeling of progress and excitement as you leaf through its pages. You could even read two or three stories over a quick cup of coffee! But as for me, I shall never be satisfied till Vincent tells me how the protagonists in each tale end up!
de Paul, Vincent. Flashes of Vice: Volume 1. Rev. Ed. Nukuru: Mystery Publishers, 2017. Print.
Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. Ware: Wordsworth Editions, 2000. Print.
© Ubaji Isiaka Abubakar Eazy 2020