JAMAICA FAREWELL by Morris Cargill


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The author is a white Jamaican in his sixties, once ""the most widely read columnist in the history of the West Indies,"" who sadly abandoned his sinking island last year; and these are his variegated reminiscences--random and thumpingly off-color at the start, then strung together into the story of a cocky, nonconforming life. If you grant Cargill his fun with a fast-breeding imbecile and nature's close calls, he has some dandy stories to tell--beginning in wartime Britain when, to uphold the family officer-tradition (""damn it, Morris, even mad old Cargill's a colonel""), he passes the military proficiency test, earns a red star, and then, undoing all, answers a choleric colonel's query with: ""Star of David, sir. Jewish private."" In a free-swinging postwar career, he develops the coffee-and-rum liqueur Tia Maria as a workingman's aphrodisiac, enlists his native workforce to (competently and contentedly) run his banana farm for him, enters and leaves politics (""a mixture of bullshit and boredom""), and scores in print and on the air because, in polite post-colonial society, ""I wrote as I spoke. . . and what I wanted to say, I said."" Here he has his say, too, about the end of his 35-year marriage (is monogamy unsuited to longer lifespans?), the burden of black serf-hate (per the island saying: ""Nayga can't bear to see Nayga prosper""), and the stifling socialism that impelled him to resettle--with his black second wife and her two children--in the United States. Plus: snapshots of Ian Fleming, Noel Coward, and other Jamaica vacationers. Unconstrained--and often entertaining.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1978
Publisher: Lyle Stuart