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Miguel Street by V. S. Naipaul

Miguel Street (1959)

by V. S. Naipaul

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Sweet, poignant and flowing but nothing profound ( )
  MetropolitanBlues | Oct 25, 2015 |
'A galaxy of characters',, December 7, 2014
sally tarbox

This review is from: Miguel Street (Paperback)
The narrator looks back at his youth on a street in 1940s Port of Spain, Trinidad.
"A stranger could drive through Miguel Street and just say 'Slum!' because he could see no more. But we, who lived there, saw our street as a world, where everybody was quite different from everybody else."
Some of the characters have a strong presence throughout (some are even carried over from another of Naipaul's works, 'The Mystic Masseur'), whereas others only feature in 'their' chapter - thus this feels rather like a set of short stories.
The characters are quite memorable: Bhakcu, 'the mechanical genius', who wrecks every car he tries to fix; a beaten wife; a poet; a woman who has eight children by seven fathers - while the narrator and his friends observe and discuss the world around them in Trinidadian English. Thus discussing schoolwork:
" 'Is the English and litritcher that does beat me'.
In Elias's mouth litritcher was the most beautiful word I heard. it sounded like something to eat, something rich like chocolate.
Hat said, 'You mean you have to read a lot of poultry and thing?' "

I didn't enjoy this book as much as Naipaul's superb 'A House for Mr Biswas', and found some of the stories less compelling than others, but overall quite a good read ( )
  starbox | Dec 7, 2014 |
It's unique--and unique in Naipaul's work, of which I've read a dozen, my favorites including House for Mr Biswas, The Loss of El Dorado, and Among the Believers. Used to teach Miguel street in community college Freshman English--maybe fifteen years, often twice a year. It never got old to me. My "teaching" was largely aloudreading, including my class who were fearful of the accent. Once in awhile a student had been there, would try to recreate some. I find it a comic achievement of the highest order, rather like (and unlike) Faulkner's As I LAy Dying. Man-Man's dog is a wonderful creation, roughly equal to Shakespeare's Crab, the clown's dog in Two Gentlemen of Verona.
I wonder if a film of it is even possible, maybe by a Brazilian film-maker? The humor would be tough to represent visually. The dog-do on the bar, funny to hear, would not be so funny to see. The brand-new truck "repaired" by the compulsive tinkerer--lovely. I would use the book as the first of five in my course, others including a Shakespeare play, a poetry collection, and a memoir or non-fiction. It really got the class off to a great start. Of course, Naipaul grew into a bit of a zero--dissing women authors, whoring, etc. But if we can forgive politicians, why not geniuses? ( )
  AlanWPowers | May 8, 2012 |
One of Naipaul's early works; it gave me a sense of place within a poor Trinidadian neighborhood, and the various inhabitants and interactions. There tends to be a dark, futility to their lives, but I found some humor too. I enjoyed this book for its clarity, its characters, and its poignancy. ( )
  HankIII | Jul 26, 2010 |
An early novel from V.S. Naipaul - the streets of Trinidad seen throught he eyes of a young boy. ( )
  zenosbooks | Feb 25, 2009 |
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For my mother and Kamla
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Every morning when he got up Hat would sit on the banister of his back verandah and shout across, 'What happening there, Bogart?'
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375713875, Paperback)

“A stranger could drive through Miguel Street and just say ‘Slum!’ because he could see no more.” But to its residents this derelict corner of Trinidad’s capital is a complete world, where everybody is quite different from everybody else. There’s Popo the carpenter, who neglects his livelihood to build “the thing without a name.” There’s Man-man, who goes from running for public office to staging his own crucifixion, and the dreaded Big Foot, the bully with glass tear ducts. There’s the lovely Mrs. Hereira, in thrall to her monstrous husband. In this tender, funny early novel, V. S. Naipaul renders their lives (and the legends their neighbors construct around them) with Dickensian verve and Chekhovian compassion.
Set during World War II and narrated by an unnamed–but precociously observant–neighborhood boy, Miguel Street is a work of mercurial mood shifts, by turns sweetly melancholy and anarchically funny. It overflows with life on every page.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:44 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Teeming with idiosyncratic characters who live in and around Miguel Street, it evokes 'living theatre' through its detailed observations of these inhabitants, their exploits and their fruitless ambitions.

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