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Primitive People

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  136 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Young Simone flees the chaotic violence of Haiti only to land in a world no less brutal or bizarre--the world of upstate New York's Porter family. Here, dead sheep swing from trees, light bulbs are ceremoniously buried, a fur-clad mother carves terrifying goddesses from pumice, and learning to lie is the principle rite of passage into adulthood.
Hardcover, 227 pages
Published April 1st 1992 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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Kristal Cooper
The premise here is that a Haitian immigrant gets a job as a nanny in upstate New York and finds everyone there to be “primitive people”. The concept has a lot of potential, but it wasn’t really realized. I think the author’s mistake was making the characters too neurotic. I mean, even wild parody has to be based in some fact to be good and these people don’t resemble anybody I know in any way.

I’m so underwhelmed by this book, I can’t help shaking the feeling that I just missed the boat entirel
Christy England siegerdt
This was a horrid book. And nothing resolved at the end. Don't waste your time or money. No wonder it was only 25 cents at the used book store. Grrr
I am generally a big fan of Prose's work (fighting the urge to pun right now), but this is not among her best. It's one of her early works, and I think that probably has a lot to do with it. It's very well written, but the observations about her characters just aren't as sharp as they have grown to be in some of her more recent novels. This attempts to be a satirical novel but lacks the subtlety to succeed entirely. Her skill in this regard has grown significantly since this novel's publication ...more
Although this is a slight novel, I enjoyed it. Set in the Hudson Valley, it features an "innocent abroad," a woman from Haiti. The novel is told from her point of view. Ordinarily, a red flag goes up for me when a white author puts words in the mouth of a black character, but my scruples were somewhat overridden as Simone, the Haitian woman, reflects upon and gains insight into her own feelings and past relationships by observing the dysfunctions of the families around her in her new home.
I have read a few books by this author. She is a bit off-beat. I liked Hunters and Gathers, but didn't really like the Bigfoot book. She has a bit of humor and the stories are just about people ---not a romance, not a mystery, not a "her children were killed in a car accident" or "her husband just left her"
This book is about a woman from Haiti who is a nanny for an artist.
i loved blue angel, and this book is about a haitian woman, so i am interested to read a book by an author i like, about my haitian roots that i am trying to learn more about.

I wrote that in 2007. It is now 2013 and I do not really remember this book. I dont know whether that says something about my memory or the book itself. Probably both.
It is possible to over-analyze in literary fiction, to so thoroughly dissect the thoughts/speech/small actions of characters that the whole novel suffers. This happened for me with this book. The writing was just fine, but the characters didn't seem to get out enough and breathe the air.

Samantha C
.. to adapt to another country you had to be all eyes and ears, and the mistake most diplomats made was to be all mouth and larynx. - p 29

How wasteful that the difficult should seem so much more precious, so that the practically unattainable was valued most of all. - p 85

It was just okay for the first two thirds - good characters, good description, but you're kind of wondering what the point is... then something happens and it becomes a page-turner. Overall I thought it was worth it.
anique Halliday
Picked it up off a sidewalk in Brooklyn and started it, but couldn't get into it. It felt like a shaky, transitional book in an otherwise solid writer's repertoire.
Francine Prose is spot-on describing how shallow and affected this particular group of people are, and how they treat and mistreat each other.
Currently in love with Francine Prose's style. Dear Ms. Prose, would you please be my mentor?
Maybe this is 2 1/2 stars - I didn't dislike it, but I never got into the story or the characters.
LOVE Francine Prose...even an "average" book of hers is better than most writers'.
One of the rare books I gave up on. Sold my copy on Amazon for a buck.
Quiet book, but I think about it all of the time.
Kind of weird.
Brittany Allen
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Francine Prose (born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American novelist. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1968, and received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1991. She has sat on the board of judges for the PEN/Newman's Own Award, and her novel Blue Angel, a satire about sexual harassment on college campuses, was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is now teaching at Bard College.

More about Francine Prose...
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them Blue Angel Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 Goldengrove Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife

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