BIG DOC BITTEROOT by C. Everard Palmer


Email this review


Like The Cloud with the Silver Lining, in the idiom of Kendal, Jamaica. Mr. Palmer comes by it naturally and he plays with it smartly through narrator Misty, daughter of Nathan ""who had organized the village into a profit-making cooperative to meet the ravages of war"" (World War II). Nathan both dutifully and instinctively opposes con-man/quack/latter-day shaman Doc Bitteroot when he swaggers into town with calculated pomp, ""the god about to mingle with the people."" ""'A smoothie among fools,'"" predicts Nathan, himself before long the sole holdout and butt of Bitteroot's antagonism in a tonic-buying, superstitious crowd; their cheering was not just ""tumultous but almost continuous. To say nothing of idolatrous."" Later, during the detailed sugar-cane processing Misty foresees and foreshadows further trouble in her saucy shorthand rhetoric: ""I felt as if clouds had overrun the sun and put it out of business. Intelligent guess: Doc Bitteroot was arriving."" His gambits are fruitful and multiply -- somewhat tiringly until he finally oversteps as Nathan knows he will: his ""cure"" of a crippled child is nearly fatal and the Law closes in. Nathan pacifies Doc's wife and children who, however, are not. . . yet. They will be, though, in the biggest wedding Kendal ever staged for anyone, let alone a reformed (?!) extortionist. Antic but never as farcical as the jacket would suggest, and oddly congenial.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1971
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill