Buxton Spice

KEMPADOO, Oonya

Published by E.P. Dutton, 1999
ISBN 10: 0753807394 / ISBN 13: 9780753807392
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Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP76780250

About this title:

Synopsis: Back in print: an extraordinary first novel by'a writer to watch and to enjoy.'*

Told in the voice of a girl as she moves from childhood into adolescence, Buxton Spice is the story the town of Tamarind Grove: its eccentric families, its sweeping joys, and its sudden tragedies. The novel brings to life 1970s Guyana-a world at a cultural and political crossroads-and perfectly captures a child's keen observations, sense of wonder, and the growing complexity of consciousness that marks the passage from innocence to experience.

Review: Born in London, but raised in a flyspeck village in Guyana, Oonya Kempadoo has now preserved her youth in exquisite amber. Buxton Spice will no doubt be compared to the work of Jamaica Kincaid, and the analogy is actually an instructive one (beyond the fact that both authors are Caribbean women). Kempadoo too has found her own idiom for rendering the magical or mundane perceptions of childhood. Even so pedestrian an activity as rollerskating seems to be taking place for the first time:

We tottered on to the road and set off. My legs felt like matchsticks with huge weights on the ends. Looked ridiculous, but was rollerskates and we had them first. The sound of hard plastic on the gritty asphalt cleared the cool night air for us to come sailing through. Up and down the road. Past the fellars watching.
The passage above, with its low-key lyricism and artful omission, is fairly typical of Kempadoo's narrator, Lula. The presence of the fellars is typical, too. For Buxton Spice is very much a narrative of sexual awakening--its plot can almost be summarized in a single word, puberty. Lula gets a nominal course in sex ed by observing the three whores in her tiny village of Tamarind Grove. But at one point, she and three girlfriends pair off into husband-and-wife teams and play house--with sufficient realism to include a boudoir interlude. Their imaginary lovemaking, which features a battery as a kind of low-tech dildo, is a tour de force of eroticism and giggly absurdity.

Buxton Spice is not, however, a mere exercise in dirty dancing. It includes many fine bits of small-town portraiture, such as this quick take on a Portuguese store-owner: "Ricardo was pink and meticulous. When he was sober he had a slow solid way of moving and hardly spoke in the house. Slept in the shop. His clothes had to match." There are also oblique lessons in Guyana's politics and caste system. What's missing, perhaps, is a sense of narrative drive: Kempadoo puts her characters on their appointed paths but seldom manages much in the way of collision. Still, her book is an auspicious and utterly distinctive slice of small-town life. What's more, it has the ring of truth to it: this, we're persuaded, is Lula's song of experience, battery-powered as it may be. --James Marcus

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Buxton Spice
Publisher: E.P. Dutton
Publication Date: 1999
Book Condition: Good
Edition: New Ed.

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Book Description Phoenix 05/08/1999, 1999. Condition: Very Good. Shipped within 24 hours from our UK warehouse. Clean, undamaged book with no damage to pages and minimal wear to the cover. Spine still tight, in very good condition. Remember if you are not happy, you are covered by our 100% money back guarantee. Seller Inventory # 6545-9780753807392

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