The Stall Keeper,Anderson Reynolds,9780970443267

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Set in the author’s hometown of Vieux Fort, St. Lucia, and using American World War II occupation of the town as backdrop, The Stall Keeper explores what James Fallow called a “damaged culture.” The novel gives deep insights into the forces that have shaped society, speaks to the very character of the town, and throws light on long unanswered questions about why Vieux Fort is the way it is. It is a compelling story of provincial bigotry, coming of age, religious experience and rivalry, faith, fanaticism, the supernatural, frustrated love, and the repression of intelligence and ambition, played against the beautiful wide-open spaces and relics of post-American World War II occupied Vieux Fort. In the novel, the inhabitants of Vieux Fort were said to be waiting in vain for the Americans’ return to bring back the good times. Five-year-old Henry whose father died when he was eighteen months old was still walking up to men asking, “Mister, are you my father?” His mother, Eunice, a strict Seventh Day Adventist with the gift of foretelling the future, would not be unequally yoked. Eugene, a stall keeper and the town’s most colorful and free-spirited character, was a woman living in a man’s body, and a man living in a woman’s world. Ruben, a favorite son, an intellectual, a famous cricketer and a staunch Roman Catholic, falls madly in love with Eunice. What happens in Vieux Fort when Henry teams up with Eugene and Ruben warms his way into the heart of Eunice is a tale of magic and tragedy. In the world of Anderson Reynolds a great drama unfolds, where history, geography, nature, culture, the supernatural, and socioeconomic factors all combine to seal the fate of characters, communities, or, for that matter, the fate of whole nations or civilizations. In this crucible of a world, readers are provided with deep insights into where St. Lucians and West Indians come from, who they are as a people, and how they became who they are. If so then readers are in for a treat, because besides a contemplation on the nature of fate, The Stall Keeper explores the pathos and socio-psychological makeup of a people. The Stall Keeper has garnered praise from critics and fans alike. Modeste Downes, author of Phases and Theatre of the Mind, said: “The Stall Keeper is told with deserving punctuations of pathos, drama, suspense, excitement, and rare hilarity. It recalls with great vividness the social and cultural norms and mores of the time. It is an engaging narrative that readers of all ages will find both informative and climactic. An excellent aid to our understanding of our past.” Dr. Jolien Harmsen, author of A History of St. Lucia, and Sugar, Slavery and Settlement: a social history of Vieux Fort, St. Lucia …, said: “The Stall keeper is a wonderful journey down memory lane for anyone who has breathed the salty sea-breeze of Vieux Fort in the middle and late 20th century… It’s a wry book; a story that sticks in the mind.” Jacques Compton, author of a troubled dream, said: “This is a complex and ambitious novel in which the author invites us to take a hard, serious and critical look at a society wracked by illiteracy, ignorance and superstition, in which drunkards, beggars, prostitutes abound. The very nature of the society, the author seems to suggest, does not allow for any escape, for the few who tried are destroyed by jealousy and the workings of obeah.” And CARICOM economist and diplomat, Peter Lansiquot, said: “The Stall Keeper should be read by every St. Lucian and professor of literature! … it takes Vieux Fort by the neck and shakes it vigorously, releasing into the breezy Iyanolan (St. Lucian) atmosphere all of Vieux Fort’s idiosyncrasies … made me laugh, giggle, ponderous, sad and glad all at once … made me immensely proud to be Lucian! In Dr. Reynolds St. Lucia has produced another writer of the calibre, or of even deeper essence than Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul …

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