CARNIVAL

Robert Antoni, Author . Grove/Black Cat $13 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-7005-7

Struggling with the writer's life in New York City, ashamed of his wealthy West Indian upbringing and confused about his sexual orientation, William Fletcher is the smart, self-pitying narrator of this promising though unfocused novel, Antoni's third (Divina Trace ; Blessed Is the Fruit ). When William bumps into his old friend Laurence, once a poor island boy, now an Oxford-educated poet and playwright, and then into Rachel, his second cousin and first love, the trio hatch a plan to return to their native Trinidad to celebrate Carnival. For all the debauchery that is Carnival (think Scotch, marijuana, fireworks, jouvert bands), this section of the novel feels curiously bloodless, perhaps because Antoni's style tends toward short fragments ("He sat up, arms folded over chest. Breathing quickly. His chest rising, falling. Staring down at the ground") and weak transitions ("Before I had a chance to think about it..."; "Before I knew it..."; etc.) The final act of the novel shifts to a remote, mountainous region where William and friends intend to sober up from the merrymaking, but instead find themselves involved in a violent incident involving the Earth People (an isolated settlement of rastas) and a racist police force. Antoni's major themes—race (William is white, Laurence black, Rachel French-Creole) and sexuality—are good ones, but they're not sufficiently developed, and the plot feels somewhat manufactured. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-84-339-7449-5
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