- File Size: 374 KB
- Print Length: 122 pages
- Publisher: Telemachus Press, LLC; 1 edition (July 21, 2011)
- Publication Date: July 21, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005DZZNSQ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,384,549 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
CANNIBAL NIGHTS Pacific Stories, Volume II Kindle Edition
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Then again, it's so often in a collection that the full flavor and power of a writer's stories coalesce into making the whole even greater than the sum of the parts. Kiana Davenport's 'Cannibal Nights, Pacific Stories, Volume II' is just that kind of collection. That's not to say there aren't absolute `stand-alone' gems here: just read "Mysteries of Rapa Nui," and see, for yourself, if the seering image you're left with (no spoilers) leaves you unable to immediately go on to the next story. The story takes place on Easter Island, 1849. The women of Hanga Roa, a village on the island, have placed their husbands in deep holes in the ground, in an effort to hide them from the brig about to drop anchor. A slender `breathing-reed' keeps the men alive while the women do whatever it is that women do to convince the slave traders that the villages are indeed dying, the men taken away by the traders that came before. To know, from historical accounts (both snippets and in-depth), about the trade in human cargo and the horrible things that happened to the women of Easter Island is one thing. To get that same information via a fictional narrative drawn from those horrible events is to understand what Tim O'Brien means by `story-truth' (in contrast to 'happening-truth'). In the hands of a gifted storyteller like Kiana Davenport, fact and fiction meld into compelling tales of longing and loss.
In a word, the seven stories in this collection (which follows from an earlier collection, 'House of Skin' take you to an edge of paradise lost and found and lost and searched for again and again. They lure you to that crossroad between old worlds and new, where an Aboriginal young woman with `brains-enough-for-three' is horrifically betrayed by a white boy she makes the mistake of trusting; a father trained in covert operations uses every bit of his skills to track down - and kill - the terrorists who had a hand in his daughter's death; a girl leaves behind a clannish existence to attend med school in France, where she finds herself in love with the very wrong man. Maybe I should have seen it coming, the clue was there, the fairy-tale paradigm a set-up; and, yet, the dizzying red-shoes-of-an-ending, not the happy one, was the only one possible.
With seamless ease, and language so tight as to be visceral, Kiana Davenport transports readers from nineteenth century Easter Island, to early twentieth- century Hiva Oa (with its fictional rendering of Gauguin), to a modern-day hotel in the Kingdom of Tonga, where a life-size portrait of George Bush at a posh resort is enough to instigate a demonstration among locals. In some ways, "George Bush and Papa at the Paradise" epitomizes the rumblings at the heart of Davenport's sometimes unsettling, always wonderfully wrought stories. Early on in the story, there's a reference to `Tongan time' - that "tickless dream-state of stationary hours" to which tourists "surrender." Situated on the International Dateline, Tonga is "arguably the first country in the world to greet the dawn, the place where today first becomes tomorrow." The tone of the story, so `once-upon-a-time' in cadence, is the point: Vai, the young protagonist, is as much the girl relishing her moment "on a hill of bougainvillea overlooking the harbor" as she is the bright, ambitious girl ready to head off to Auckland University, scholarship in hand. As the second story in the collection, it serves as a kind of bridge between the edgy present in the lead story and the shadowy past of the ones that immediately follow; it also shines a vivid light on the complexities of a paradise tourists pay big bucks to visit, and those who call it home do their best to keep from slipping away.
This expression of woefully misguided publisher pique attracted my attention. After reading a short sample, I ordered Cannibal Nights for my Kindle and started reading. With fervor.
It's hard for me to imagine a better promotional tool for that up-coming novel than Cannibal Nights! It's a solid collection of stories that are, by turns, warm and horrifying. Here are tales of sacrifice and tales of irredeemable cruelty, tales of love found, love lost, love regained and love turned on its head and beaten with a stick.
Not that these are "romance" stories. (Okay, maybe one of them is.) This is love in the real world with all its hard surfaces and sharp edges, told by a skilled author who crafts prose that sings.
While these splintered islands, trapped in the vast ocean, showcase life in all its hues, there are moments when life is dwarfed by other phenomena, like the monolithic statues dotting the Easter Island, which seem to have an overarching presence over the island's people, and their fate.
Like a master photographer author Kiana Davenport captures the vignettes of life in these disparate settings, crops and balances the images and finally presents us a rainbow of stories each different yet complementary to each other.
All the stories are suffused with fervent passion: passion for vengeance, passion for love, lust, passion to keep the family from breaking, to find a lost father and for an unbridled life. In `Assassin Orders Pecking Duck' a father reacts to the loss of his teen age daughter to terrorist violence, in the only way his pitiless Navy Seal past has prepared him for: to smoke out the perpetrators from their hiding and to inflict on them matching pain and death. The story `Cannibal Nights, Colonial Afternoons' recounts the suffering and grief, the lust, zest, and the working of the artistic mind of a genius, who has cut himself loose from society. In `George Bush and Papa at Paradise', a bright but sensitive girl foregoes the chance of pursuing higher studies in New Zealand, so that she may restore her wayward father's lost affection for her mother.
The characters are busy in their own quests: some of them move inwards while others explore out to the distant parts of the world. While the flawed genius of the eponymous story, unhappy with the external world, comes to the core of nature in Marquesas Islands, the women and men in Easter Island, scared of the life of bondage that the big bad world offers them, hold precariously on to their land by hiding in the deep crevices of earth (`Mysteries of Rapa Nui'). And there are outward journeys too: by Samuel in `Assassin Orders Pecking Duck', who fans out to distant lands in hot pursuit of the terrorists. The daughter of a French soldier in `The French Foreign Legionnaire's Bâtard' goes out to interior France in quest for her biological father, but her quest leaves her more shattered.
The stories have a haunting quality about them and they strike a chord with you. The primordial men and women in their idyllic settings grow on you as you read more and more. You may check out from this milieu whenever you choose, but you can never shut them out from your mind. They will cry out in the dark of the night like the cannibals in the Paul Gauguin story.
Beautiful, haunting stories. Some are heartbreaking, and some are exciting. Davenport's writing is lush, descriptive, stirring-- near perfect. I made the mistake of reading this last night, thinking I could just read a bit and go to sleep. Of course, it kept me awake. It's hard to sleep when the writing is this good.
For those who want to know, the Kindle formatting is really clean and the editing is top-notch. This is one of the best short story collections I've read this year.