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A little hard to read because of dialect but excellent. Good, stories sort of fell into obscurity, maybe because Walrond left Harlem right when the Harlem Renaissance was in full swing Stories from Barbados and the Spanish Caribbean, colorful language, diverse as Harlem was at the time. A superb gift of a book as far as lyrical beauty and storytelling prowess Hemingway of the Caribbean, if you ll allow The beautifully rendered patois makes this book nearly qualify as a foreign language and encourages readers to slow down Incredible imagery and often very funny.
I din t understand much of it but the characters manage to touch you for the briefest moment that they appear. Tropic Death is vivid, lyrical, harshly real and at times quite moving However first it should be warned that the language is very arcane for a modern reader Though short, it s not a leisurely read The book presents a collection of short sketches from around the Caribbean and Central America, and despite being publicized as a literary contribution of the Harlem Renaissance it presumes a high level of familiarity with the geography and social climate of the region Here is an extract from th Tropic Death is vivid, lyrical, harshly real and at times quite moving However first it should be warned that the language is very arcane for a modern reader Though short, it s not a leisurely read The book presents a collection of short sketches from around the Caribbean and Central America, and despite being publicized as a literary contribution of the Harlem Renaissance it presumes a high level of familiarity with the geography and social climate of the region Here is an extract from the beginning of the short story The White Snake On the banks of a bilgy lamahau, the eeliest street stream in Bordeaux, a row of Negro peasant lodgings warmly slept It was a vile, backward crescent reeking in brats and fiendish lusts Cocabe among its inkish rice growers extended to gorillas sentenced to the dungeons of Surinam, Portuguese settlers who d gone black, Chinks pauperized in the Georgetown fire of 05 and Calcutta coolies mixing rotie at dusk to the chorus of crickets and crapeaux moaning in the black watery gut The cast is mainly black, the short stories covering towns in Hondouras, Barbadoes, Guinea and Panama White characters rarely appear except in roles of policing authority, and instead Walrond s focus is on the strained race relations between coloured groups As in the block quote above, the narrator s casual use of ethnic slurs like Chink Cholo , Nigger , Chiggah foot are frequent All human relationships are pressurized and tensions are continually suspended Walrond s focus is divided between the fertile landscapes of the region and the everyday stresses and earthy wit of the black peasants immigrant workers This is especially thematic in the title story Tropic Death , in which a middle class black child, Gerald Bright, is repeatedly interrupted from his hobby of staring at the sea to be immersed in the problems of the poor children around him and the troubled reunion of his mother and father The romantic descriptions of the climate are lyrical but seem to always burden the characters withproblems Sunday came The sun baptised the sea O tireless, sleepless sun It burned and kissed things It baked the ship into a loose, disjointed state Only the brave hoarse breezes at dusk prevented it from leaving her so It refused to keep things glued It fried sores and baked bunions, browned and blackened faces, reddened and blistered eyes It lured to the breast of the sea sleepy sharks ready to pounce upon prey from Tropic Death The frequent descriptions of the white quarries of marl , a kind of limestone, also have the same oppressive effect on the writing Death by arbitrary accident and disease is never far from possibility in these collections of thrown together people There is so much dispute and grievance and aggressive heat in the book that it s a fairly downbeat experience, all round The occasions of contented leisure and friendship, such as at the start of The Wharf Rats , are in short supply usually relations are stern, worried or physically aggressive Few characters are particularly likable, as a result, and the novel has no real psychological depth I had to take the qualities of the moods and pictures over the lack of detailed characterisation But having said that, the unnecessarily phoneticised Caribbean creole dialogue alongside the elaborate prose lead to serious issues of reading flow I made a little glossary as I read that I would have benefited from had I known from the start uman woman picknee child cyah care the gap mine unnas your fi to infinite fomembah remember marl a kind of limestonebajan person from Barbadoesbackra white elitecholo native american Latin slur It s an enjoyable read, despite it s difficulties, anyway Tropic Death provides a vivid series of glimpses into the lives of people usually in the background of such exotic novels Reading it, I thought that the style was strikingly similiar to Joseph Conrad, but rather than following Nostromo s jeopardised mine owners, it follows the lives of the people in in the Sulaco pits, or digging the grand Panama Canal project for the highly financed European industrialists The itinerant nature of the short story narrative dovetails with the rootless characters Walrond portrays, and shows a sort of life that isn t lived in fixed, stately buildings, but in suitcases and crowded ferry trips In constant attraction to limited opportunities ^Epub ↿ Tropic Death ↡ Eric Walrond , in his only book, injected a profound Caribbean sensibility into black literature His work was closest to that of Jean Toomer and Zora Neale Hurston with its striking use of dialect and its insights into the daily lives of the people around him Growing up in British Guiana, Barbados, and Panama, Walrond first published Tropic Death to great acclaim inThis book of stories viscerally charts the days of men working stone quarries or building the Panama Canal, of women tending gardens and rearing needy children Early on addressing issues of skin color and class, Walrond imbued his stories with a remarkable compassion for lives controlled by the whims of nature Despite his early celebrity, he died in London inwith minimal recognition given to his passing Arnold Rampersad s elegant introduction reclaims this classic work and positions Walrond alongside the prominent writers of his age