Book Review | Poetic confessions
Book: Vinette’s Vignettes
Critic: Glenville Ashby, PhD
On the heels of her critically acclaimed Did The Right Sperm Win Vinette Hoffman-Jackson delivers a far more intimate message and proves her salt as a writer of note. With enviable range and timing her Vignettes holds our attention.
There is an unmistakable authenticity to this work. It is raw and speaks to the complexities that shape us. Hoffman-Jackson wrestles with competing feelings. Her musings tell of a restless soul, a soul that at times teeters on a fine line, vulnerable, but still searching desperately for meaning. Her vignettes are existential and movingly powerful and in a single breathe, self-effacing and fatalistic. Therein is her appeal.
We identify with her vulnerabilities and her ambiguities. However, for all her shortcomings and missteps, she stirs the imagination. It is a paradox that has worked for many through the ages. Hoffman-Jackson has now joined a storied list of writers.
We find favour in her gratitude and humility. She acknowledges her mother, but her encomium is neither tritely repetitive nor is it purely hagiographic.
And throughout there is an unquenched thirst for intimacy.
“My daddy left me when I was two,” she pens, “and my mother did what she had to ... Although through the years she did what she can, but my mother never taught me how to love a man. Simply no one taught me how I should love.”
Feel her pain
She mentions the absence of her father without labour, but we still connect the dots and feel her searing pain. Hoffman-Jackson can’t hide that truth. But some wounds are best left untreated. Maybe.
She is not drafted by the immediacy of passion and reflects: Why? And, what if? If only she could trust. “He says, ‘Stay with me and try’. I looked at him and said ‘Good-bye.’”
Surely, love is her Achilles Heel and the wounds on the inside are the hardest to heal.
“He loves me, And that’s a fact,” she writes.
“I just cannot love him back. Someday, somehow, he will discover my lie ... He loves me but I just cannot love him back.”
Without fanfare, she let us know of her fidelity: “Although I know the time is fleeting. And death will one day send its greetings. And this heart will stop beating. In heaven, I’ll wait patiently for our next meeting. I’ll be there. Forever I’ll be there.”
Hoffman-Jackson can be philosophical but hardly in a didactic way. Man is his own worst enemy, she says. She invites us to respond. Of man’s bellicosity, she ponders: “I wonder, what exactly is a religious war? An oxymoron if I have ever seen one. From who exactly did that order come? I wonder what would happen if all wars should stop? What would become of the bullets and guns? And the people who have always profited?”
Somewhere lies the answer, but for now, she is confounded by the ways of men.
Still, she delves into aesthetics, cosmology and the uniformity of life. It is an unfathomable, unspoiled wonderment:
“Your shell cracked
Out you spilled
Floating and spreading until
You became part of everything
And new life forms to bring.
We are one ... You exist not in singularity
But in harmony and perfect unity
Be still with the universe and move with the flow
The more you listen the more you will know.”
Vinette’s Vignettes is daringly purposeful. We are neither broken beyond repair nor do we ever impeccably mend what is broken in and around us. What is important is our existential worth. Brutally credible, Vignettes hits the mark with seamless abandon.
Vinette’s Vignettes by Vinette Hoffman-Jackson
Copyright 2019 Vinette Hoffman
Publisher: YouCaxton Publications, UK
Available at Amazon
Ratings: Highly recommended