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Trinidad Noir: The Classics by Earl Lovelace
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Trinidad Noir: The Classics

by Earl Lovelace (Editor), Robert Antoni (Editor)

Other authors: Michael Anthony (Contributor), Robert Antoni (Contributor), Wayne Brown (Contributor), CLR James (Contributor), Barbara Jenkins (Contributor)13 more, Ismith Khan (Contributor), Harold Sonny Ladoo (Contributor), Earl Lovelace (Contributor), Sharon Millar (Contributor), Shani Mootoo (Contributor), VS Naipaul (Contributor), Elizabeth Nunez (Contributor), Jennifer Rahim (Contributor), Eric Roach (Contributor), Lawrence Scott (Contributor), Samuel Selvon (Contributor), Derek Walcott (Contributor), Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw (Contributor)

Series: Akashic Books Noir Series

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I like short stories when I travel, which is often. These were good but I usually read myself to sleep and these were pretty menacing for bed time stories. ( )
  charlottem | May 27, 2017 |
If you follow my reviews for any length of time, you already know I am a fan of the Akashic Noir series. Trinidad Noir: The Classics, their newest release, came out on Monday. Just as in every other Akashic Noir anthology, it will introduce you to a place that you won't find in the travel books. Rougher than any Rough Guide, the Noir series introduces you to the sad places, the bad places, the places where people are often on the downside of power, on the no side of luck, and on the wrong side of the tracks. They are stories with heart and soul and struggle.

Trinidad Noir: The Classics contains 19 selection in four sections, Leaving Colonialism, Facing Independence, Looking In, and Losing Control. Like other Classics in the Noir series, the editors selected stories going back as far as 1927 to as recently as 2015. They include two poems in addition to the short stories.

People looking for more traditional noir mysteries will be disappointed. There's violence, crime, murder, but not the sort of whodunnits that overflow most mystery anthologies. The closest thing to a mystery is The Dragonfly's Tale by Sharon Millar that tells the story of a mother seeking her son who disappeared and the wife of a complicit bureaucrat who betrays her husband to help the mother find his body. Many of the stories involve magic traditions and folk spirits. Both the first and the last story feature supernatural answers to life's challenges. There are stories of colonial bigotry, racism and classism. There's also a lot of humor, sly tales of beggars, tricksters and cons. There's one story, Hindsight, that is little more than an extended scatological joke.

This is a varied collection of stories and I enjoyed several of them. Even those that were less satisfying were good stories. Overall, though, the collection feels unbalanced. There's too much of the trickster. Even The Bonnaire Silk Cotton Tree where there is a recitation of the many deaths and disappearance in the violence and the repression of that troubled island, the demon jumbie poses like a fashion model in a more humorous than frightening story even with the promise that all the dead from the first injustice to the wanton violence of today, from the indigenous slaughtered by colonialism, to the slaves, to those whose deaths come from poverty, theft, drugs, and all the other plagues, everyone who has never had justice would manifest for all to see. Theres is this flash of indignation, this demand for justice, but it is only a flash before the trickster is back. Then there is Hindsight, a slight, very short story that seems so much less than this anthology deserves, a self-effacing choice by editor Robert Antoni whose My Grandmother's Erotic Folktales offers several choices. In contrast, Earl Lovelace's story Joebell and America was one of my favorites.

There is an incomplete quality to many of the stories. For example, The Party, creates a sense of menace and dread, everything is laid for disaster and tragedy, and is then suspended, the story ends. It sets the mood for a story that is never told. I really want the rest of that story.

This was one of the stranger collections in the Akashic Noir series. There's more of the supernatural than usual. There is a lot of unseen, but deeply present, menace, powers that cannot be challenged and a sense that only humor keeps people from despair. With repressive government, murderous abusive police, corrupt businessmen with their private security, foreign investors, and criminal cartels, it seems that for most people, life is lived is in the margins, and they must laugh or die crying.

I was provided a promotional e-galley from the publisher through Edelweiss.

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/9781617754357/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | May 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoy the cadence and the sound of the English language in the mouths of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, so it was a pleasure to see it reproduced in so many of the stories in this collection.
The 'classics' refers to the most well-known of Trinidad's authors: VS Naipaul, Samuel Selvon, going as far back as a 1927 story by CLR James. The chronological sequence of the stories presents a picture of the changing people and society over the almost ninety years covered by the stories. In the older stories, male authors predominate, but women are well represented in the newer stories. The story of Trinidad must include the story of emigration, and one of my favorites is the 1957 story, The Cricket Match. Here, Samuel Selvon captures, with humor, Trinidadians in the London of the 1950s. This is the only explicit 'away' story, but others touch on characters with relatives who live elsewhere, or are trying to move away. However, most of all, the stories are of the people who live in that two-island nation. ( )
  GailNyoka | May 1, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
TRINIDAD NOIR: THE CLASSICS is edited by Earl Lovelace and Robert Antoni.
It is a collection of reprints of classic stories and poems from celebrated Caribbean authors.
The editors are also the authors of two of the stories in this title. Publishing dates range from 1927 to 2015. While the stories “are not all focused on crime (a common element of the noir genre), they direct attention to the violence of a society that has not quite settled accounts with the casualties of enslavement and indentureship.”
The book contains a Table of Contents; an outline map of Trinidad Tobago showing where the various stories take place (I like this map); an Introduction; About the Contributors (very interesting profiles) and Permissions. There are 19 stories (and poems) divided into four parts: Part I - Leaving Colonialism; Part II - Facing Independence; Part III - Looking In; Part IV - Losing Control.
I quite liked the story LA DIVINA PASTORA by C.L.R. James, taking place in North Trace; originally published in 1927. This story was very eerie.
I read and reread the poem THE SCHOONER FLIGHT by Derek Walcott, taking place in the area of Blanchisseuse; originally published in 1979. “I try to forget what happiness was, and when that don’t work, I study the stars.”
THE PARTY by Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw, taking place in the Santa Cruz Valley, first published in 2007. The story was one of desperation, sadness and terrible violence (boiling under the surface). From the ashes falling on the birthday cake to the seething bitterness of Alice to the rented pit bulls patrolling the yard - it was terribly depressing and scary.
Another story I liked (I really did like them all) was THE BONNAIRE SILK COTTON TREE by Shani Mootoo, originally published in 2015, taking place in Foothills, Northern Range. I was familiar with the author, Shani Mootoo, having just finished her book MOVING FORWARD SLOWLY LIKE A CRAB. I like her style and with characters like the attention-seeking priest, Father O’Leary, desperate for independence and acceptance, Nandita Sharma, and the sinister ‘jumbie’ - something disastrous is bound to happen.
I like the stories being in sequence according to publication. The reader can see a progression of sorts in the culture and character (and despair) of the emerging country.
Some of the stories were written in a regional patois which made it slow-going at times. But it added realism and character to the characters, the locale and the story line.
I like this noir series from Akashic Books very much. I thank Akashic Books for sending me this book in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. The title is part of Library Thing’s Early Review program. ( )
  diana.hauser | Apr 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Definitely a mixed bag. Definitely enjoyed it, and really like getting these ARC giveaways because they get me out of my type of novels I normally gravitate to. This collection of short stories by Trinidadian authors are printed chronologically by publication date, over the past century. Some of the stories I thought were pretty darn good; others were ho-hum. One note; I guess a large group of people on the island speak English, but in a very different dialect, so for people who don't like reading a lot of dialogue that's not in "proper" English, this will be a rough read.

It has a few poems included, but I don't enjoy poetry so I skipped over those completely; I'll edit my review if my wife reads them and lets me know what she thinks.

**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review.** ( )
  MisterMelon | Apr 20, 2017 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lovelace, EarlEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Antoni, RobertEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Anthony, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Antoni, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, WayneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
James, CLRContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jenkins, BarbaraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Khan, IsmithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ladoo, Harold SonnyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lovelace, EarlContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Millar, SharonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mootoo, ShaniContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Naipaul, VSContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nunez, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rahim, JenniferContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roach, EricContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Scott, LawrenceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Selvon, SamuelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Walcott, DerekContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Walcott-Hackshaw, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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