The whole kit-kaboodle — 5 years ago
Most authors tend to put everything into their first novel but this one takes the cake. The publishing process normally includes that gatekeeper we call the editor. When faced with a fully formed talent one could very well decide to simply let them be and leave them unfiltered – the public will decide after all – but that (and this is what occurred here) is abdicating one’s responsibility. So yes the first 200 pages are about as exhilarating a novel about the Caribbean as you can find, Antoni captures the patois, the cadences and the intricacies of the oral tradition, he weaves in keen observation and has a sense of the voices that . The story is framed as a mythical medical religious mystery – the kind that Eugenides would use in Middlesex. There is sexual confusion and various unreliable narrators as befits something we could classify as magical realism. And then. And then I say. Antoni simply gets carried away into a combination of Joyce and Faulkner as if possessed. At a certain point you wonder what he was on for the trip and perhaps if you too were in that hallucinatory mood you’d embark on the same trip. But no, he loses you and the last half are very tough going. Some might call it virtuosic but I rather lean towards terming it exhausting. Still you can’t take away the first half from him. A vital voice roars out of Trinidad.