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At the Bottom of the River Paperback – October 15, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Kincaid's style combines the effect of the simple but perfect word with the lilt of Caribbean rhythms. On the surface, these stories are not difficult to read, but they can be challenging to understand for the reader accustomed to more traditional methods of storytelling. The collection is about as short as a book can get, and so the stories can be read in one sitting, back to back, although their absorption can take much longer.
Reading the book is liking trying to look at things at the bottom of the river, which continuously get distorted by the movement of the water, the interplay of light reflected on the surface and shadows at the bed, and things that sometimes drift into view and out - with and for no apparent reason.
Quite an interesting experience.
This collection begins innocently enough with one of Kincaid's most impacting writings, Girl. Girl is one of the most severe but accurate depictions of the volatile intensity between mother and daughter. Fueled by a combination of love, fear, and partial loathing, a mother doles out a mantra of life lessons with equal parts concern and venom: "When buying cotton to make yourself a nice blouse, be sure that it doesn't have gum on it, because that way it won't hold up well after a wash. ... Always eat your food in such a way that it won't turn someone else's stomach; on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the (...) you are so bent on becoming." The essays that follow are sinewy with sexual, violent, and spiritual themes.
Kincaid's strength lies in her rage. One senses it above all in her amazing control over words, which, while extremely satisfying on the level of literary technique, also comes across as a refusal to be vulnerable and a reply to anyone who would try to keep her down.
Like a journal, 'At the Bottom of the River' matures in content as it proceeds. Kincaid's prose-poetry initially appears whimsical (she describes some pebbles as "not pebbly enough") and that's the mystique of her writing, how it almost capriciously masks cerebral contemplations on living, dying, and the struggle in-between.
Ms.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Saw Kincaid at the Chicago Humanities Festival on Northwestern U's campus and she read the first prose-poem in this book which was very funny.Published 13 months ago by bkh
I got this book because it is one of the required books I need for my college class. When I began reading the book, I didn't like nor dislike the book because it is a strange book... Read morePublished on January 16, 2007 by Pachy S.
Kincaid's stories have a distinct voice and accent, which perpetuate the subversion of standard rules prescribed by centres of authority. Read morePublished on December 19, 2003 by nerdygirl
In its strangeness is its beauty.
I won't pretend to have understood this book. At times I'd put it down and think, huh? Read more