Book Review: From Caves of Rotten Teeth by Igoni Barrett

Book Review: From Caves of Rotten Teeth by Igoni Barrett



Written with a poetic fluidity, From Caves of Rotten Teeth by Igoni Barrett, redefines storytelling the way we know it. The extremely gifted writer engages us - the readers - in his calm erudite voice that somewhat sacrifices clarity and simplicity for rhythm, grandeur and possibly some Latin.

The collection of short stories is sure to make readers laugh, frown and do just whatever Mr Barrett intended for us to.

It was first published in 2005, however in 2008, another version without some stories from the first publication was released.

With an impressive keenness, From Caves of Rotten Teeth, points a floodlight, if you may, at human behaviour in a non-judgemental, tell-it-as-it-is tone that is at once deeply intimate and uncannily godlike.

Like the title suggests, this book has some kind of fascination with rottenness and it comes to the realization that human behaviour is pretty rotten quite early in the collection. From a voracious wife discovering her husband's unfaithfulness through the most unlikely of ways to a baby supposedly stolen by the wind, it captures the Nigerian life with a surreal and ethereal power which gives its readers a Nigeria that is equally very familiar and very strange.

Corruption, greed and the hypocrisies that plague human existence are some of the themes this brilliant piece dissects. But sometimes, the collection of stories can prove a curiosity, much like an abstract painting that the  viewer is fascinating by but doesn't quite understand, because of the author's word choices.

One who does not know Mr Barrett well, by way of his novel Blackass or his other collection Love is Power, or Something Like That, would wonder if he were on a journey to prove he is such an excellent writer, what with the grandiloquent and quite honestly, unnecessary words,  not to mention, the frequent lapse into French, Latin and what have you. But the author has ultimately created a well-grounded style that will make readers forgive, if not appreciate, his word choices.

From Caves of Rotten Teeth is written mostly with third-person narrative and is sure to leave the reader totally mesmerized.

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