Mr. Potter By Jamaica Kincaid

Mr. Potter by Jamaica Kincaid

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2002

A strange and poetic short novel that follows the life of Mr. Potter, an illiterate chauffeur on the island of Antigua. Written by his daughter, the first member of the family to read and write, is is a praise song to his life, his home and the people surrounding him.

Delving into history, belief and suffering,  Mr. Potter is also a celebration of the value of literacy and language.

How each moment is brimming over with the possibility of change, how each moment is brimming over with the new; and yet how each moment the world is seemingly fixed and steadfast and unchanging; how for some of us we are nothing if we are not like the cockle in its shell, the bird in its feathers, the mammal covered with hair and skin; how certain we are that the world will insure  our fixed state of happiness or misery or anything of the vast range in between; how in defeat we see eternity and how so too we see forever and ever and ever again and again in victory; how in some dim and distant way we feel we are nothing and how certain we are that we are everything, all that is to be is present in us and no thing or idea of any kind will replace us.  From page 85.

As I was reading this novel, there were times that I struggled with the density of Kincaid’s prose, as if I couldn’t stop to take a breath.  It was uncomfortable and I wonder if that was her intension.  By sticking with it I found a beautiful rhythm, as if I was in a small boat, sometimes rushing down a swift river, other times rocking on a gentle sea.  It was worth the struggle and I plan on reading more of Jamaica Kincaid’s novels and her book on gardens!

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4 Comments

Filed under Fiction, New Authors 2010, PoC, Review

4 responses to “Mr. Potter By Jamaica Kincaid

  1. My boyfriend read this a few years back and I remember him telling me something similar: that she makes readers uncomfortable, but it’s likely very much intended.

  2. I’ve heard the same from others. I think this must be the most experimental of her books, in terms of her repetitive style, but it was also my first foray into her work and just super loved it. Although some say it’s one of her lesser works, I don’t think so. Glad this made you want to explore more of her stuff!

  3. I just ordered my first Kincaid book, Small Place…it’s non-fiction, though, so it’ll be interesting to see if it imparts the same feeling.

  4. Pingback: I’m linking it up as I go along « Olduvai Reads

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