Short Story Review: “Filamo” by Irenosen Okojie

2 of 5 stars.

Absurdism has a literary place for providing a neutral landscape by which to present social commentary. The absurdist landscape still has rules, even if they aren’t this world’s rules. And those stories still have trajectories and outcomes.

This one doesn’t offer those very things that provide entry into the story and a means to make sense of it. It explains itself as “a madness” which it offers in spades. But the madness itself follows no rules and isn’t limited to a single individual having a drug or psychological diversion. It merely piles on dysmorphic and amputational irrationalities without an endgame.

. . . he found himself stumbling outside into the grounds, disrobing by the darkened stream gleaming in the night. Naked, covered in bite marks, he hunched down to catch things from the water; Siamese green lizards who shared an Adam’s apple, a piece of jabuticaba fruit which grew another layer of purple skin each time you touched it, one cherub whose eyes had blackened from things it had witnessed upstream, a lung wrapped in cling film. Surrounded by his discontented small audience, Dom Emmanuel removed the cling film, crying as he ate flesh. It tasted like a man he once paid four gold coins in Tenochtitlan to keep him company, to be rough then tender with him afterwards, who had stuck his curious tongue into his armpits as if digging for his body’s secrets using a pliable instrument.

The images themselves are evocative. However, they never add up. Nor is the madness confined to just Dom Emmanuel, but rather to the entire Abbey and the saints that visit it. If only the tale offered a why.

This tale appears in the anthology An Unreliable Guide to London by Influx Press, London. I received my copy of this anthology directly from one of the contributing authors through
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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