First-time novelist and journalist Baldeosingh strains to amuse as he satirizes contemporary folly on the island of Trinidad (and everywhere else) with the fictional autobiography of a preternaturally obtuse advocate of ``Correctness.'' The late Paras P., born Paras Parmanandsingh, so organized his life—and his death—that as he's lowered into his grave, his voice is heard saying, ``Make sure the grave is exactly six feet deep.'' A careful man, Paras had taped the instructions for his own funeral, and it was just such foresighted action that had earned him fame and fortune as the founder of the Centre for Correctness. But then, as Paras notes in his first chapter, he was destined ``from birth to be a person who, almost instinctively one might say, knew correct behavior.'' He goes on to relate his life story, a sequence of wilfully misread encounters and grandiose observations that are as much about our own sexual, racial, and cultural prejudices and hypocrisies as they are about the narrator. Paras, whose mother was Canadian and father Indian, is proud of his fair skin, his muscular calves, and his language: As a youngster, he drives himself to master the Correct English he hears nightly on the BBC. In college, though spurned as a lover, he finds that his always correct behavior ensures academic success, but it is after his dismissal as a civil servant and his failure as a politician that Paras comes up with the idea that makes his name. At the Correctness Centre, he mixes S&M—a whip shop is part of the package—with high-minded tuition on correct behavior in everything from dining etiquette to writing. Here, until felled by a fatal stroke while watching the Playboy channel, he tries to create ``nothing less than the Perfect Society.'' An entertaining debut, and a concept with a refreshing Caribbean slant, but marred by too many a flat joke and would-be significant aside.
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