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Mr. Potter by Jamaica Kincaid


Rating: (Mildly Recommended)


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All in the Family

In earlier novels, Jamaica Kincaid presented vivid images of her mother and brother. In her latest work of fiction, Mr. Potter, she presents what she can about her elusive father. Through a series of vignettes, the patient reader comes to see dimensions of Mr. Potter, a chauffeur in Antigua. While she puts flesh on his bones with her best poetic skill, the distractions of Mr. Potter’s parents and children, give the reader limited insight into Mr. Potter. The many repetitious phrases can drive some readers crazy. Try this, for example:

And that day, the sun was in its usual place, up above and in the middle of the sky, and it shone in its usual way so harshly bright, making even the shadows pale, making even the shadows seek shelter; that day the sun was in its usual place, up above and in the middle of the sky, but Mr. Potter did not note this, so accustomed was he to this, the sun in its usual place, up above and in the middle of the sky; if the sun had not been in its usual place, that would have made a great big change in Mr. Potter’s day, it would have meant rain, however briefly such a thing, rain, might fall, but it would have changed Mr. Potter’s day, so used was he to the sun in its usual place, way up above and in the middle of the sky.”

That’s the first sentence of the book. If you can get through that, and want to go on, you’re likely to enjoy the rest of Mr. Potter.

Steve Hopkins, June 1, 2002


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The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the August 2002 issue of Executive Times


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