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'A galaxy of characters'
on 8 December 2014
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