The Slave Trail

Alain Gerber, Author Mercury House $18.95 (143p) ISBN 978-0-916515-51-5
The romantic image of the tropics as a paradise where life is simpler and better receives a death-blow in this short, lyrical, symbolic adventure tale. Clement Calderanz, haughty French writer short on inpsiration but long on ego, follows an old slave trail on a seldom-visited Caribbean island where he has come to recharge his batteries by throwing off the shackles of civilization. Accompanying him is his skeptical literary protege, Paul; wife Nathalie, with whom Paul is secretly having an affair; and Tom, a Canadian-American writer from Brooklyn and Paris who also lusts after Nathalie. Their quest for Eden grows ever more illusory as jealousies and professional rivalries surface. Is Colonel Paradise, the notorious bandit sought by Calderanz, really a hunted ex-slave, or is his legend an invention of the natives, created to dupe white intruders? In exposing the ``vast, sumptuous lie'' of the tropics as envisioned by Westerners, French novelist Gerber ( Rumor of an Elephant ) also probes the mindset of native peoples who are captive to their own myths and insularity. Leggatt's deft translation captures the delicious ironies of a highly original writer. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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