TITLE: VOWELS IN THE AIR
AUTHOR: EMMANUEL FRANK-OPIGO
GENRE: ESSAYS, POETRY (Mixed)
NUMBER OF PAGES: 210
PUBLISHER: WORDS RHYMES & RHYTHM
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2016
REVIEWER: JOSEPH OMOTAYO
About the hardest thing to do is what this writer has done. Collecting your past essays into a book is such a daunting task. But Emmanuel Frank-Opigo has done this well. This is good. Only few writers have been successful at this.
I have read Egbunike Nwachukwu’s Dye Thoughts, Victor Ehikhamenor’s Excuse Me! and Pius Adesanmi’s Naija No Dey Carry Last. What all these books have in common is the ability to keep a track record of where we have been as a people and the trouble that still throttles this nation. Vowels in the Air joins the league.
Vowels in the Air is a collections of essays and speeches that speak of memories. This makes it an interesting time tracker.
Not everyone is going to be a prose writer, but everyone should do this. There is a sizeable readership out there for nonfictions. Because nonfiction is life. Because nonfiction is total. Because nonfiction does not imitate the real. Because nonfiction is honest to boot.
I reluctantly approached this book but was soon hooked. This is a serious book. Emmanuel Frank-Opigo has got many things to talk about in the book. This is something far better than what journals do. This book is deeper than many insightful columns collected together.
Vowels in the Air transverses the mundane and explicate issues with such grip that snatches and holds you still. This book defies any kind of distraction.
Over the recent weeks that I’ve gone recluse with books, this book has always found a way to hold me.
Vowels in the Air is such book that could be read from any part and you still make sense of. I started from the bottom, went to the middle and then to the first article.
However, you should be careful though, some thoughts in this book run in continuum. You might miss some things here and there with that kind of reading. Take time to read this book. In all, this book allows for flexible reading. This book is a reference book on many issues.
Partly, Vowels in the Air, reads like Emmanuel Frank-Opigo’s memoir. If this writer ever does have one in the future, one may have to read this one for a cursory insight into this writer’s life. Vowels in the Air is then a life tracer. It is partly a memoir, partly everything else.
Chapter one of this collection quickly summarises the kind of writer Emmanuel Frank-Opigo is. It adds an interesting dimension to book reviewing. Chinua Achebe’s A Man of the People is interestingly examined. A new longing for the book is stirred in you. Titled “A Man of the People and the Charm of Chapter One”, the writer centralises his whole review of the book on the first chapter while he effusively talks about other parts of the book.
I was so amazed by this writer’s attentiveness to details in the subsequent chapter. In chapter two, the staging of the same book is exhaustively dissected. You get a feeling this writer really knows what he’s talking about. In this chapter, he takes about the stage playoff the same book at the 2011 Garden City Literary Festival. The review picks an interesting hole in the staging when it says:
“The story is set in the early sixties. However, all phone communications in this play were done by mobile phones! If it was a present-day rendition of the story, that would be understandable. But it was not. Also, Chief Nanga‘s security man, Dogo, portrayed as illiterate in the novel, was speaking perfect English in the play.” (pg. 20)
Sadly, this reviewer almost spoils that chapter when he shoves his presupposed inferiority in the face of the reader. This reads harmlessly, but it reduces the credit I should have given to the reviewer:
“Before I proceed with this review it is necessary to give boundary conditions to our expectations by giving perspectives on ―the writer of these lines‖. Not Max Kulamo who bears that sobriquet in the novel, but this reviewer. This reviewer is no specialist in literature or literary criticism but is merely a dilettante who, decades ago, came to a crossroads and chose the engineering path while still keeping his literary interests alive.” (pg. 16-17)
There is no need for that. What was that even doing there!? I can bet art lecturers in some universities can write as best as that. It is true, because they taught some of us and we have their lecture notes.
Vowels in the Air is a reader’s precious mine.
JOSEPH OMOTAYO (@omotayome) is a Nigerian reviewer and blogger. Some of his works are published at criticalliteraturereview.blogspot.com and josephomotayo.blogspot.com.