DINING WITH THE DICTATOR by Dany "Laferrière

DINING WITH THE DICTATOR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This nostalgic look at a weekend in Haiti will satisfy anyone obsessed with the sexual politics of teenage girls, but it only skims the surface of its deeper subject, a boy's rite of passage. Laferrière (How to Make Love to a Negro, not reviewed) begins his novel with a sort of apology: ""Excuse me for saying it here, but only women have counted for me."" In this obviously autobiographical portrait, a 39-year-old Miami writer gets a phone call from an old friend that recalls 25-year-old memories of his hometown, Port-au-Prince. Laferrière presents the story in the form of a film, divided into scenes, about his protagonist's friendship with a ruffian named GÉgÉ, who quickly transforms his buddy from an exemplary son into a delinquent who hangs out in the red-light district. After attracting unwanted attention from a local ""shark"" (hoodlum), the narrator goes into hiding at a neighbor's house -- which also happens to contain six nubile nymphettes. He eyeballs Choupette, who sleeps with a married man named Papa; Pasqualine, who likes to parade around half-dressed; Marie-Michèle, who's in her second year of medical school and complains about her friends being bitches; Marie-Flore, who places the narrator's hand between her legs yelling, ""My vagina says, corruption!""; Marie-Erna, who breaks into uncontrollable sobs every time she laughs; and Miki, the only one with any class. After two days of blissful chaos, he discovers he's not wanted at all and returns to his mother's home a changed man. (See also the review in this issue of Laferrière's nonfiction work, Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex?, p. 1336.) Voyeurism only goes so far.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1994
Page count: 210pp
Publisher: Coach House