Steven Buechler's Reviews > The Meagre Tarmac

The Meagre Tarmac by Clark Blaise
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May 20, 2012

it was amazing

A great look at what the muddle of identity - be it language, nationality, religion, or where one lives - creates.

Page 97
Connie's father had been a teacher, and general promoter of the Portuguese language and Luso-Indian culture in the seaside Goan village of Caranzalem. Portuguese, he believed, had protected Goa from the tragic fate of India. Their cottage functioned as a community library of French, Spanish, and Portuguese texts and their back lawn, between monsoons, had been outfitted with a modest stage and commercial lighting. Connie and her borthers used to sit at their father's feet in the tropical, sea-breezy evenings, citronella candles sputtering, while he read passages from the French and Spanish classics and asked his children to act out the same scens in Portuguese. Despite her profession and current residence - book editor in New York - Portuguese remained her comfort language; it provides the music she plays, the wisdom she quotes and the pork and fish vindaloos that she cooks for private celebrations.
Back in her London years she'd known exiled Indonesian writers, some of whom had been imprisoned and tortured by the colonial regime, who still - in the evening, over tumblers of Scotch - reverted to Dutch among themselves. It is a tight, mysterious fraternity, those who grew up with unconsummated love or complicated hate for their colnial masters. Understanding the dynamic had made her the person, and the editor she was.
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