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Swimming in the Volcano Paperback – April 9, 2004


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Swimming in the Volcano + Easy in the Islands + The Woman Who Lost Her Soul
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (April 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802141315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802141316
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #691,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

ABA-winner Shacochis's first novel about expatriate life on the fictional Caribbean island of St. Catherine was a NBA finalist.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In the opening pages of Shacochis's splendid first novel, Mitchell Wilson, an American who works for the Ministry of Agriculture on the Caribbean island of St. Catherine, is heading downhill. His lost love, Joanna, has decided to drop into his life again, and he's on his way to the airport to meet her, riding in a dilapidated car whose brakes--dependent on coconut oil for braking fluid--have failed. Wilson's harrowing ride is a perfect metaphor for life on St. Catherine's and for the turn his own life is about to take. Joanna may have come to St. Catherine simply to escape trouble, but Wilson still bristles when a government official tells him to stay clear of her. He should have listened. This may sound like a fast-paced thriller, but though there's a mystery to crack at the heart of this richly detailed novel, Shacochis in fact offers a chilling evocation of the misunderstandings that arise between feckless Americans and struggling islanders for whom St. Catherine's is no paradise. The author's maximalist prose, lush as the tropics he's describing, could have used some pruning--but then we might have lost a few flowers. Highly recommended; Shacochis is the author of Easy in the Islands ( LJ 2/1/85), a short story collection that won the American Book Award. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/92.
- Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 1996
Format: Paperback
Bob Shaccochis writes s a great tale of a young american working for a government ministry on a small caribbean island. The book is clearly autobiographical and deals not only with the americans slow but steady understanding of his complete outsider status but also other aspects of his personal life. This is one of the best books I have read. Anyone who has visited the Caribbean and realizes that the islands are not just "Club Med" will read this cover-to-cover in one seating. You will also find yourself reading everything else from this author
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Whitehouse on March 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book caused me to add Bob Shacochis' name to the list of authors whose prose is absolutely brilliant--sometimes even a bit blinding, as some other reviewers have suggested, but it is superb writing nonetheless. Shacochis joins Reynolds Price, V.S. Naipaul, Annie Proulx and Don DeLillo in my pantheon of modern literary geniuses. Maybe "economy" was not one of the author's strong suits when he wrote "Swimming in the Volcano," but to me this is an absolutely trivial objection when weighed against the power of his language and the unflinching accuracy of his observations.
Unnecessary verbosity and flashy writing are literary sins, to be sure, but Shacochis doesn't commit them here. If "Swimming in the Volcano" is overwhelming at times, it's because the author is sounding depths of the human experience other writers don't dare to plumb. He is not indulging himself or merely playing with words. He gets into the minds of his subjects, Caribbean and American; and their voices, whether in Caribbean or American dialects, ring jarringly true.
I would rank this novel with Don DeLillo's "Underworld" for its rare synthesis of power and substance. Like DeLillo's masterpiece, "Swimming in the Volcano" has plenty of sound and fury, but signifies something profound about men and women and the lives they create.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
The obvious comparison is to Robert Stone and Graham Greene. Alright, no problem. If you're going to "borrow," might as well borrow from the best. But the author expends too much energy on trying to impress the reader with the quality of his prose and not enough on characterization. I'm impressed, however, with the scope of his knowledge oncultural matters relating to the Carribbean -- he obviously knows his subject. A good book, but next time, Bob, lighten up on the literary pyrotechnics. Go back and read G. Greene and you'll be reminded how simply and eloquently he states his case.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda McCarty on January 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Total waste of time and money. Somewhere in this book is a story and characters I might care about, but the effort of wading through such over-blown, over-written narrative was just not enjoyable. I want to get lost in a great story; this one simply bored me because the writing was so bad.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 19, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book to be savored rather than gulped. It is like sipping cognac. The prose is lush and sensuous. As the various scenes unfolded I could feel myself inside them. Shacochis takes us into the complexities and uncertainties experienced by well intentioned, idealistic and naive people as they get caught up in forces that ultimately consume and, in some cases, destroy them. You have to concentrate and contemplate. And you are left hanging till the last page. And even then the story stays with you. A thoughtful tour of the dark side of life, culture and politics in the Carribean.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I won't give anything away about this story, but if you are a reader then read this.
I loaned it out until someone kept it!
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Format: Paperback
its amazing when a very good novel sells for a dollar! story is about young people caught in the crossfire of black power and revolution on a small island. Proves there is more than sunshine and beer in the tropics.
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