Publisher: Parallel Universe Publications

Author: Adrian Cole

Book Title: Tough Guys


Aristotle in his Poetics nailed the criterion of knowing a great plot.  He wrote: “With respect to the requirement of art, the probable impossible is always preferable to the improbable possible.”  This was the strength of Kafka Metamorphosis, a piece of a magical story but became so real, characters so believable that one even forgot about the magic in the plot because one was seeing in the story the people one knew. It was this precisely did Adrian did in his Tough Guys especially in his horror story, ‘'If You Don't Eat Your Meat” where the horror became terrifying not because the novella was aiming to scare but because the characters causing the havocs were so real, so believable, that one felt so sure that one knew them, had seen them in school, chat with them and had even exchanged some pints of beer in a pub with them, in fact, that they were one's neighbours. And this in itself was an epitome of scariness.

             In plotting the story, and other stories in the collection, Adrian hardly wasted a single word. The first paragraph of 'If You Don't Eat Your Meat' read: ‘They’ll catch up with me one of these days. Sooner rather than later. And they’ll nail me up, just like that bloke the Jesus people are always on about. A lesson for all….’ This read like a simile that compared the magnitude of the suffering the narrator would undergo if he was caught by the people wanting to capture him for whatever crime he committed to that of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was a simile in a way but it was not just a metaphor in its literal usage. In that single opening paragraph, Adrian set up the setting of the two worlds in perpetual combat in the story: the world of law and order, the familiar world most of us knew, pitted against the world of those who navigated this familiar world with their old religion where cannibalism was a norm. The conflict of these two worlds put the settings of the story in a perpetual tension making the plot to move so quick, page-turner, that by the end of the story one would hardly believe how fast one had read it in a fleeting of a moment. In fact, every single page went so quick like a sprint of a shooting star.

Talking about the quick pacing of the story brings us straight to the heartbeat of the argument or differentiations accorded by some experts who are busy seeking the discrepancy between a literary fiction and genre one. Some opined that genre fictions are plot based whereas literally are character-centered. Adrian is a typical example of someone that broke this law. He took care to his characterization and in the setting. The characters were vivid with their silliness, and even with their obnoxious actions.

  I like the winters. Meant that we kids could snuggle up together under the blankets. We used to do things with our sisters. They showed us what to do and we learned things. Amazing. Never knew nothing like it.   

It is important to commend the witty nature in which the stories comprising the collection were written. That one would find oneself laughing out loud even in a bleak terrifying story of cannibalism. For me, this is an accomplished collection that delivered what it promised to do.

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Published by Ezeiyoke Peter