Best Nightmare on Earth

Best Nightmare on Earth : Life in Haiti

  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 167.64 x 238.76 x 35.56mm | 498.95g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • Grafton
  • London, United Kingdom
  • maps
  • 0246138661
  • 9780246138668

Review Text

A frequent visitor to Haiti since 1953, novelist/essayist Gold would seem to be an ideal guide to that troubled land. Unfortunately, what he offers here is a disappointingly shallow portrait. While Gold discusses the politics, the religion, the art, and the people of the island, he does so without shine or energy, unexpected absences in a writer whose previous works (Travels in San Francisco, 1989; Dreaming, 1988; A Girl of Forty, 1986, etc.) have been notable for their vivid style and idiosyncratic points of view. Not that there aren't occasional pleasures to be found here, however. Gold recounts a tour of inspection he made with the Haitian Minister of Tourism and a passel of international visitors that is alternately hilarious and chilling. There is an amusing episode in which the author meets with an ancient voodoo priest only to discover that a portrait of the old fellow's principal god is none other than, of all people, Harold Stassen. There's also a story of a Haitian politician who, during WW II, named his first son "Hitvelt." "He wanted to be a winner, no matter which side came out ahead," Gold remarks. Too often, however, the vignettes lack much point. For example, Gold met Graham Greene in the 1960's, while the British author was researching his novel The Comedians, The only insight Gold seems to have gleaned from this encounter is that Greene was apparently convinced that all the women he met were lesbians. Readers in search of a more subtly shaded and insightful depiction of Haiti should turn to Amy Wilentz's The Rainy Season (1989). (Kirkus Reviews)show more