The Marvellous Real

The swiftness of the folk tale combined with sparseness of Raymond Carver.

Review of E. C. Osondu, This House is Not for Sale. Financial Times, 5 June 2015.

In Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Italo Calvino considers the six properties that he believes are fundamental to literature. The first is Lightness; the second is Quickness. And this is why (he tells us) he has always been attracted to folk tales. Not out of ethnic loyalty or nostalgia (he is a modern, cosmopolitan writer) but because of their narrative economy, the laconic swiftness with which they are set in motion: A king fell ill and was told by his doctors, “Majesty, if you want to get well, you’ll have to obtain one of the ogre’s feathers.” No attempt to explain what illness befell the king, or why an ogre might have feathers. Simply the bare résumé, in which “everything is left to the imagination and the speed with which events follow one another conveys a feeling of the ineluctable”.

It is this kind of narrative fleetness that animates E. C. Osondu’s second work, This House is Not for Sale, right down to the level of its wry sentences: “Children loved him; women loved him; husbands not so much.”

Read more on the FT website