Take One Candle Light a Room
Pantheon, 2010 (2010)
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Reviewed by Barbara Lingens
antine, FX to her travel-industry colleagues, has long needed to reconcile who she is since the disparate parts of her life are pulling at her unmercifully. On the one hand she is a successful globe-trotting travel writer who, because she is light-skinned, plays the race card rather cynically; on the other she is a long-lost daughter of a very special family.
er motherís birthday brings everything to a head. As Fantine reluctantly prepares to go home, a nephew appears with two friends. Victor has a promising future, and Fantine is proud to support him, but this time their contact ends abruptly, and Victor goes off with his friends to find trouble. This sets in motion a vivid portrayal of one familyís ability to survive the long-standing effects of slavery, miscegenation, poverty and violence that began in rural Louisiana.
usan Straight speaks the language of the small rural enclaves of Louisiana, and in that voice we slowly receive the pieces of the puzzle that is Fantine's heritage, with everything culminating in the roar of Hurricane Katrina. This is a powerfully felt story, authentically voiced - which will make it difficult for some readers - but it is definitely worth all the effort.
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