This book is a bit like a sandwich made of stale bread but with a tasty filling. The beginning and end are chewy and lumpy, filled with cosmological ramblings that almost put me off, but if you persist, you will be rewarded with a good read.
The novel is set in the mid-80s and consists of two stories. One traces the lives of a young white American and his family from New Hampshire who migrate to Florida in search of a better life and end up living in trailer park territory amongst a bunch of no-hopers, criminal and low lifes.
The other recounts the life of a young black woman from Haiti and her harrowing attempts to get to Florida and escape the poverty and misery of her homeland.
After 300 pages, the two characters' paths cross - finally and fatefully - in a heartbreaking climax.
The author does a good job of presenting the American and describing his rages and frustrations as he tries to cope with his chaotic life.
However, he is not so successful with his presentation of Haitians, Jamaicans and other Caribbean types. Nor can he resist the temptation to indulge in clichéd images and describe voodoo-type black magic ceremonies with chickens and goats having their throats cut and people dancing themselves into trances.
This is definitely worth reading, particularly if you know Florida which is almost like a separate part of the United States, to some extent, with its mixture of American, Latin and Caribbean cultures.
One final point. This book is really packaged for the modern age. The novel is followed by an appendix containing lengthy material about the author, extracts from his diary, photos of the original manuscript with corrections, and other items. Smart marketing indeed.