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Review of Land of Love and Drowning
on July 18, 2014
If you are any sort of reader you know that there are different categories of books. There's easy, light reads that can be finished in an afternoon, there's tense, gripping reads that won't release you until you turn the last page - and even then, you struggle with moving on from them for several days to weeks. And then there's the type of book that weaves a spell around you. It slowly entrances you in a way that hides the entrancement and, when you finish it, you end up dreaming about it and feeling caught in an otherwordly-type of spell. That's what I've been doing today. I finished LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING by Tiphanie Yanique last night and I dreamed I was in her world all through the night and woke up in a daze this morning.
That's some powerful storytelling, folks.
It's the kind of story-telling that I love, too. The incorporation of myths and gods, of tall tales and history; the weaving of all of these things until you don't know (or care) what is true and what's not. Add into it real events dealing with parts of the world I had never even heard of and... well, it was a heck of a story.
Still, there were some flaws. I wasn't gripped by the first 100 pages, in fact, I dabbled with putting the book down and not finishing it at all. While it was interesting, it was very strongly dealing with some issues that made me more than a little uncomfortable. As the book progressed, I understood more that it was more about symbolism and feminine power - but still, that's hard to grasp in the opening chapters of a book, especially if the story is one that's not often told. I have absolutely no doubt that people with a broader worldview than my own or more knowledge of the culture and society living in the USVI may view this differently. I'm just a single reviewer and, while I appreciate the education and feel enriched by the story, it doesn't take away from the fact that I had to push myself to get past those first 100 pages.
I think Yanique is going to be an author to watch. She tied the civil rights movement in to the lives being lived in the USVI in a way I've never seen before. She talked about characters that were familiar to me from my readings in other areas (Western African literature and Native American). I was thrilled to see a version of the trickster that I don't come across often being spoken of and I was entranced by the idea of the duane.
More than anything else, LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING has kindled a curiosity in me about the USVI and the British Virgin Islands. I want to know more and, if the other books I find that take on these subjects and the locations are only half as good as LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING, then I consider myself fortunate.