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The Taste of Salt Paperback – September 13, 2011
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"[A] searing, gorgeous, brilliant and profoundly human novel about two generations of an African American family riding the slow-mo roller coaster of addiction." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Four voices tell this poignant story, making each page ache with a different shade of loneliness." —People
"In The Taste of Salt, Southgate writes with a minor-key melancholy that comes on softly, but lingers long after." —Entertainment Weekly
"[The Taste of Salt] hauntingly explores how the mistakes people make affect everyone around them." —NPR.org
"One of our favorite authors delves into a taboo topic: alcoholism in the Black community . . . Southgate is one of our most reliable tour guides inside the minds of fictitious Black rebels and outsiders . . . In a virtuoso balancing act, [she] tells [a] poignant story." —Essence
"A steady undercurrent of raw, complex emotions keeps the pages turning." —Bust Magazine
"Southgate brings a thoughtful intelligence to her downbeat tale." —Christian Science Monitor
"With compassion and a quiet grief, Southgate examines the ways families self-destruct even as they try to hold it together." —BookPage
"Southgate's arresting, fluid prose and authentic dialogue come together in a resonating study of relationships . . . A fascinating story that shows how the mistakes people make affect all those around them." —Publishers Weekly
"A compassionate, complex, and concentrated novel, tenderly powerful, that explores family bonds that last long after the family is dispersed." —Booklist
"Southgate does a wonderful job of telling Josie's story, touching on racism, sexism, alcoholism, and emotional infidelity . . . A good, attention-grabbing read." —Library Journal
“Martha Southgate’s latest novel is a compelling story about how we fight to keep our pasts from dictating our futures; it is also a poignant exploration of the legacies our families leave us and the dangers of trying to deny them.” —Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
No exposition. No epilogue. NOTHING. The story is in full swing. Then black screen. Credits. Me sitting there, slack jawed and unbelieving.
In the West, we like (or at least, *I* like) stories wrapped up in certainty. ANY certainty will do. Characters overcome. Or die. Or continue being SOB's who got their just desserts. SOMETHING.
With this book I got a bit of Curse of the Golden Flower. Beautifully written. Character depth. Vivid imagery. Stunning water motif. A crescendo moment. Black screen. Credits.
I stared at my Kindle, like...? The percentage thingie says 91%. That means *someone* owns me 9% more.
Okay. If I look at it as the story of a girl trying to work out her daddy issues (reconnect/forgive/learn to trust), then I guess I have my *something*.
Or perhaps [and I am reaching here] she's stepping into her femininity (or feminist/womanist identity), owning her sexuality and understanding she doesnt need a man to define her (though, there IS the daddy thing, and her husband, brother and lover each left HER, not the other way around)...and the salt water is a rebirth, or tears, or some other such English teacher-y thing? (English teacher here, btw)
Having said that, I'm not so sure what the heck I just read. It was good (I'm pretty sure) dont get me wrong. Just...unsatisfying? I dont know.
It was different. Refreshing, even. Ms. Southgate has managed to travel where others seldom tread. Josie wasnt the typical AA female protagonist (meaning she wasnt a slave, maid, 1960's-anything, Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire or a Waiting-to-Exhale character ripoff - thank God for small favors), but I feel I didnt really get to KNOW Josie. Maybe she didnt know herself?
I'm still working through it. I'll edit this as I contemplate more.
The story feels so real(I know it's a cliche)and flows so easily. Literally from page one you will be interested in the story that Josie has to tell. Josie is the central character, but every family member gets a chance to speak from their perspective, and that gives the story a deeper feel. The best part about this, the family, is non-judgmental about the struggle with alcohol. In the hands of a lesser writer, this probably would not have been so. There is certainly disappointment and frustration, but it is handled very human-like. The love Josie has for her brother and father, despite her fear is handled brilliantly. The treatment of Dad, a reading lover assembly line worker is delicate.
I don't want to re-tell the story(hate when reviewers do that)or give away key scenes. I want to convince you that this book is worth your time and money, and you will thank me for recommending this to you! This will certainly be amongst the best books you will read all year!
At its core, The Taste of Salt, examines the effects that alcoholism has on any family. Its venom makes all loved ones victims destroying each relationship at various speeds. Although initially Josie seems to be the protagonist, the author tells the story in shifting first-person narratives from other key characters to provide insight into their heads and hearts. It is here in these snippets of memory we learn of difficult childhoods, broken dreams and disappointments and the never-ending hopes for healing. Despite Josie being African American, this could be anyone's story because pain and dysfunction are not bound by race; however, there are unique perspectives from an African-American viewpoint that are skillfully rendered and factored into the story: their father's migration North from the Deep South, Josie and Tick's experiences at an all-white prep school, Josie's demand for respect and recognition in a profession dominated by white males and her interracial marriage.
Southgate's clever use of metaphors and similes tying the title and the aquatic themes into the story is clever and refreshing in this deliberate, solemn and well-written tale. Recommended for those interested in literary novels dealing with familial dysfunction, alcoholism, drug abuse, Alcoholics Anonymous/rehab and urban decay.
This novel was purchased by the reviewer.
Reviewed by Phyllis Rhodes
APOOO Literary Book Reviews