Novelist and world traveler St. Aubin de Terán (Otto, 2006, etc.) provides a series of maze-like musings on her work in Mozambique.
After a financially devastating divorce, the author dove headlong into a new life of filmmaking and charity work. Upon meeting her current husband, a former news cameraman, St. Aubin de Terán was introduced to the beguiling shores and poverty-stricken people of Mozambique. It was here that she decided to focus her energies, initially planning a documentary but ultimately founding a college of tourism for the people of the Mossuril District. The book chronicles her work there, giving insight into the land and lives of a people on the far edge of Africa. With colorful, lively language, the author eloquently describes the Mozambicans’ attitudes toward everything from cell phones to mangrove trees, conveying a palpable sense of their culture and lifestyle. But like the tangled roots of the mangroves the author so lushly describes, her narrative threatens to trap and confuse the reader in its convolutions. She often begins a chapter discussing one topic and then moves into a seemingly unrelated, or at least decidedly tangential, discussion. In “If Not Now, When?” she predictably recounts the events leading up to her decision to start her charity. By the end of the chapter, however, she wanders off into a lengthy discourse on cooking and food supplies. Because she moves rather aimlessly among various topics, providing little overarching framework or organization, it is difficult to figure out exactly how she got where she did and why. Her stream-of-consciousness style, while perhaps just as meandering and structureless as the sense of time she describes in Mozambique, often leads into knotted thickets of self-reflection.
Vividly descriptive, but lacks a coherent structure and context.