“Because mystery is horrible to us, we have agreed for the most part to live in a world of labels.” Underhill, Practical Mysticism
Stemming from the Latin crudos, meaning “raw, uncooked, bleeding,” and related to cruor “blood from a wound” The Salt Roads is indeed crude. Carved from human flesh, with all it’s bone, meat, sweat, blood and juice, Hopkinson spares no pain. Her novel is raw work sliced from the skin of three women and a new-born god.
Mer is a slave in Haiti who’s only hope lies in brief liaisons with her woman lover, and her faith in La Sirene, one of the gods from the old country. Jeanne, in another time and land, is Baudelaire’s scheming dark mistress, desperate to grasp at security in a century and land where there is no security for women, of any color. Thais, an Alexandrian prostitute, runs away from her master to see the great Roman cathedral at Capitoline. At the hands of their masters, each woman suffers the hardships of their time, and then more.
Within each, Hopkinson deftly interweaves the triple aspects of Erzulie, the Vodun goddess of love. Riding, or possessing, Mer, she is La Sirene, ruler of the ocean and motherhood. Like La Sirene, Mer steadfastly mothers and bathes the ill, oppressed, and wounded slaves of her new land. As Erzulie Danthor, Jeanne is consumed with jealousy and passion, unable and unwilling to keep herself from affairs with either man or woman. Through Thais and her ordeals in the desert, comes the aspect of Erzulie Freda, the virgin goddess of love.
Fortunately from all my research for Cry Havoc it was easy to see the various manifestations of Erzulie in each of the women, but I’m afraid that is a subtlety lost on the more casual reader. Having said that, I have to admit the borning of Erzulie throughout the story confused me. It seems that, like the women, the goddess wasn’t able to fully manifest until suffering through an almost near-death wounding, a sacrifice if you will from the hand of her oppressor. As with the women, once the wound was overcome, she was reborn into her authentic destiny.
Hopkinson’s novel is earthy, mystical fare, heavily seasoned with the vital salts of blood, sweat, and juice. It’s a compelling read of women and gods, displaced and found. While compelling, be warned that The Salt Roads is often disjointed – Hopkinson juggles the four lives unevenly, with Thais appearing late in the story, as if in afterthought.
For all those who asked if “The River Within” was available in paperback, the answer is yes! Thanks to Catherine M. Wilson’s generous and talented work at Raqoon Design http://raqoon-design.com/ “River” has been beautifully re-formatted (as well as professionally edited) and can now be safely read in the hot tub, ocean, or rain!
But wait, there’s more! Packing a generous 390 pages “River” also makes a handy paper weight and convenient bedside weapon. Best of all, if you read it and don’t like it “River” has 390 pages just perfect for starting that cozy winter fire!
Hurry! Act now! Quantities limited to the first 5,000 buyers! http://amzn.to/wSb8Zt
Seriously, thanks to all of you who asked for this in paper. Without your encouragement I never would have made the leap from e to tree.
I hate star ratings. I gave this novel three – wait! Don’t go! See? That’s what happens with stars, we skip twos and threes and go looking for fours and fives. But literature, like life, is a lot of threes and you shouldn’t skip them over because threes are solid, quality, “likes”. To me three stars means I liked this book well enough to finish it and I will read this author again. (Four stars is I really like the book and thought about it all day when I wasn’t reading it. Five stars is I love this book and it’s going to a desert island with me.)
After a mishap on a fire-fighting crew Jay returns home to recuperate in the company of her father, sister-in-law, and autistic nephew. Bufford alternates between the present and 1983, when 12-year old Jay is forced to stay with her rigid grandmother after her mother runs away from rehab and a stint in jail. In an effortless transition from Jay the girl to Jay the woman, we follow a lost child as she becomes a lost adult.
There is a persistent tension in the present scenes from Jay’s outings with her teenaged nephew and his Jesus-idolizing, brain-damaged friend. Both are large, volatile, pubescent young men and the book reads like a car wreck about to happen. You brace yourself, squeeze your eyes shut, and wait for the impact. With characters that include a junkie mother, dead brother, autistic nephew and his violent friend, one would expect the impact to be devastating, but Bufford’s eventual wreckage brings hope rather than despair.
I think I saw this book mentioned on a lesbian literature forum so I assumed it was lesbian fiction. I read, waiting for a relationship to develop, but it’s not a lesbian book at all, just a good story about people who are deeply flawed, richly human, and coming to grips with life on life’s terms.
On this first day of 2012 I uploaded The River Within to Amazon’s CreateSpace and for those of you who have wanted it in book form, look for it in 5-7 days. Much gratitude to whoever, many moons ago, suggested I get help from Catherine M. Wilson with formatting issues. Not only did she fix all the nasty e-book bugs, but she turned out a beautiful cover for the paper edition. Sounds simple enough but when I saw the paper version needed a spine and back cover, too, I ran screaming from the CreateSpace page straight to Catherine’s at http://raqoon-design.com/. She patiently walked me through the whole process and created a beautiful end product.
Tomorrow I will start reading the short stories submitted for the Kissed by Venus Short Fiction Contest. I am honored to be one of the judges and can’t wait to start reading the entries. Good luck to all that entered!
2011 was a year of riches. I didn’t win the lottery, buy a Mercedes, or move into a McMansion. It wasn’t about those kinds of riches, but rather the riches of the heart. The gift of discovering wonderful women like #1Fan and a riotous reviewer who feeds frozen chocolate-covered bananas to her dog while typing with her toes, whirling a hula, and singing the praises of lesfic in all shapes, styles and colors. Yeah, you know that’s you. It’s the riches of a having an 86-year old mother-in-law, who still introduces me as her daughter’s friend, but loves to watch football with me while she spanks me at backgammon. ( Must remember to write her a check for all her winnings.) The riches of friends in sickness and health. It is even the riches of watching two women I love going through a brutal breakup, knowing there is nothing I can do. I so want to take a side, make one see “reason”, but they are both square on the path the gods have chosen for them. It is my job simply to witness and love both. They are giving me the riches of learning to be compassionate and non-judgemental, when all I want to do is be angry and blameful. That is much the easier thing to do. Not all riches are pleasant, or as I heard yesterday, “every school has it’s tuition.”
Riches come in all shapes, sizes, varieties and colors. What do yours look like?