Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 17th 2014 Contents B37
August 17, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Our August Sunday Arts Section Book
Club choice Trash is a stinging introduction
to the culture of poverty that can be found
anywhere in the world---including right here
With a story of three friends who discover
a bag with a key, a wallet full of money and
a map, author Andy Mulligan creates a fas-
cinating story of three boys, Fernando and
Gardo, both 14, and 11-year-old Rat, as they
guard their secret stash from police who are
desperately trying to recover the treasure the
boys accidentally discover.
Mulligan explores the loyalty that binds
friends together, their struggle for physical
and economic survival, and the family sit-
uations that define these boys. None of the
boys have fathers. Rat lives alone and Raphael
is being raised by an aunt, which is often the
case with many poor boys.
The boys must find a way to stick together
and protect each other while they decide what
to do: keep the money and key, or take the
reward money that keeps going up astro-
nomically. But the boys don t trust the police.
They don t believe the police will really give
the reward money. Still, they are tempted.
Trash is about more than three boys decid-
ing to follow their conscience and do the right
thing and return an important find. It s about
the trust---or lack of it---between poor neigh-
bourhoods and the police. It s about those
who live on the periphery of society deciding
on their place in society if they should sud-
denly come into money.
Trash is a young adult book for readers
ranging from upper elementary to adult. It
is a tense, action-packed mystery with vivid
characters and chilling conflicts. Young readers
will find a sobering dose of real life in it,
including the conditions in which many poor
children attend school. There are many values
to examine as well, including loyalty and hon-
esty. It is impossible to read Trash without
a lump in your throat. The tension just keeps
1. What would you do if you found a key
and a wallet full of money like Fernando and
Gardo found? Would you give it to the police?
2. In the novel Trash, 11-year-old Rat seems
more worldly than the two teenage characters
Gardo and Fernando, whom he guides. Do
you think this could happen in real life?
3. Fr Juilliard, who runs the Pascal Aguila
Mission School, says he fell in love with the
poor place where the school is located. How
is this possible?
4. Does the story of Pascal Aguila, a freedom
fighter who fought corruption and was assas-
sinated for his efforts, serve as inspiration or
a warning for the children in this poor neigh-
Get ready for our September SAS Book
Club Book: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood
Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,
by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. Is
Malala performing a noble duty on behalf of
children everywhere, or is she being exploited
for political purposes? Should children be
thrust into the spotlight like Malala? Join us
for book discussions on the Sunday Arts Sec-
tion (SAS) Book Club Facebook group.
Three boys and a secret stash
A REVIEW BY SHIVANEE RAMLOCHAN
Papillote Press, 2014
St Christopher & the Barracudas is imag-
inary, but it s got an interior life that flour-
ishes, and an external appraisal that could
be improved by a solid infusion of tourism.
In this way, it s not so different from the real
islands of Trinidad, Jamaica or St Vincent,
the land of author Philip Nanton s birth.
Nanton describes Island Voices, a multimedia
project which has recently found renewed life
as a text publication (Papillote Press, 2014),
as "a place where anything can happen and
the wrong thing usually does."
These are 15 vignettes, fresh and witty slices
of "island life" that seek to deconstruct the
lazy evocations of seaside idylls and market-
stall banter that such terminology tends to
conjure. Nanton presents his stories as a series
of archived reports from the local populace,
narrating life in St Christopher & the Barra-
cudas in an unscripted, vernacular-rich style
meant to reflect no discernible editing. Over-
seeing the flow of one anecdote into the next
is St Christopher s retired, long-suffering
police chief, Emmanuel "Fish-head" DeFreitas.
If the residents of this fictitious island are
colourful, then at least they are boisterous
and giddy narrators for their own sakes, and
not for the approbation of foreign investment.
The multi-religious, Rastafarian-Hindu-
Catholic hybridised maxi driver in Country is
upbraided for switching over to country and
western while making his stops, eschewing
the soothing panacea of gospel music.
"You nat a real St Christopher man. We
doan play dat kind of music," one passenger,
referred to as Kentucky Fried, admonishes the
driver, while the latter "rocks to the music
and puts his foot down...with the face of a
poker player, he s just stretching out his hand
collecting fares around, in front, behind his
head. He dispenses change "like shelling peas."
Joshua, the taxi driver of the collection s
opening story, Breeze, Breeze, Cool Breeze, is
far more laconic, devoid of stoicism while he
ferries his sole passenger on a one-way trip
around the island s port town.
This driver makes it clear to his fare that
St Christopher is far more than the efforts of
its tourist board, even though "we have
anthem, flag, Parliament, police, regiment,
botanical gardens, Independence Square and
traffic jam." These markers of development
pale compared to what opulent resort devel-
opments can be bought (as Joshua wryly says
to his customer) "for a song if you want to
buy a corner---million, maybe two, in your
dollars, not mine."
The delicate and oft-precarious balance of
"your dollars versus mine" is further examined
by Nanton in stories told through the eyes of
the resident expatriates of St Christopher and
the Barracudas. These erstwhile international
transplants navigate a genuine attachment to
the land that s upended frequently by their
trickier engagements with the island s born-
In Small Island---Big Man, a resident intro-
duced by "Fish-head" DeFreitas as a "well-
to-do, eminent citizen" praises the efficiency
and cleanliness of Canada, from which spotless
terrain he s recently returned on a hypochon-
driac s medical errand. Despairingly self-aware,
he populates his well-manicured lawns with
watchful Rottweilers. One of his most telling
laments is a bitter invective against the ocean
itself: "The sea air rusts everything."
Yet this self-barricaded islander reacts with
possessive obstinacy at the very notion of
relocation, ending his archival entry with the
declaration, "Elsewhere! Live elsewhere! I ll
be carried out in a box first."
The multimedia compositions of fine artist
Caroline Sardine (working under the artist
name "booops") accompany each of Nanton s
strident entries. Her palettes are colourful,
banishing shadowy landscapes while foraying
into the darkly domestic tableaux of St Christo-
pher s inhabitants lives.
The author was shortlisted for the 2014
Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize for his
manuscript Canouan Suite.
Island Voices began life as a spoken word
production in 2008, and much of its delight
is still best derived from the oratory complexity
that adorns these pieces. Something is essen-
tially lost in the translation to printed matter,
a bright spark and an auditory cascade that
linger somewhat mutedly on the page.
Still, the vigorous tapestry of Nanton s
assemblage of experiences is a rewarding enter-
prise, a translation of what one hears in free
and unfettered everyday speech. Nanton s
archival fictions have carried him into the
church pew, the departure lounge and the
swing of the coconut vendor s cutlass---we
listen, and hear all the island commess that
is part of our inheritance in language and
Where anything can happen
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