Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Review of 'Salt Roads', by Nalo Hopkinson

(Click link above to read the entire review by Sean Melican.)

Quote: Because these characters are terribly isolated, spending most of their time in bedrooms, it is difficult to see how Jeanne's life carries particular meaning for the history of the Ginen. That she is an inspiration and aggravation for a French poet isn't enough to justify her placement in this novel, if this novel is about the effect of black women throughout history. However, Ms. Hopkinson is gifted at depicting the subtleties of love. The relationship of Jeanne and Baudelaire, as well as Jeanne and another man who enters quite late in the narrative, is exceptionally well drawn. Though not as relevant to the main thrust of the story, these relationships are nonetheless quite moving and ultimately triumphant.

They have few, if any, limits on sexual expression. What Jeanne does to Charles is graphic and would qualify as extraordinarily kinky to ninety-some percent of the population. I don't have an objection to what they do—and Ms. Hopkinson has such skill that she can eroticize acts I don't normally find appealing—but it does seem remarkable that these are three women who just can't say no to anything, nor ever want to.

End quote.

I think the reviewer missed the boat in this point. I believe Nalo used the explicit sex to show how these women clung to one of the few sources of pleasure or power they could in their situations. We meet women in various points of history, all oppressed to different degrees, and learn their coping mechanisms and methods of self-preservation. Yes, some of the character's choices may be unsettling, but so are their lives as a whol. I interpreted this as Nalo's choice to make the reader think about it.

I recommend the book to any man or woman with an open mind.


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