Black Elephants's Reviews > Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Trilogy

Love, Anger, Madness by Marie Vieux-Chauvet
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Jan 17, 2010

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bookshelves: fiction

Love, Anger, Madness is a beautifully written trilogy of short stories that examine life under the brutal Haitian regime in the mid-1900s. My Haitian history is fuzzy, but like most put-upon proletariats, Vieux-Chauvet is out to talk about repression, depression and other bleak aspects. But she does it in a lyrical and engrossing way.

I usually don't like short stories, too. Although, I think each story, "Love," "Anger" and "Madness," are more like individual novellas that examine a different aspect of Haitian life. There are some similarities between the stories. The characters come from affluent or educated classes. They are not white; Vieux-Chavet explores the black or mulatto Haitians. They formerly held prestige but no longer hold it now. They are watching whatever there lives were unravel into not happy things.

The first story is "Love," and that's about three sisters, particularly the eldest who is a spinster. That one I actually think ends kind of happy. Or a little triumphant but not really. That was probably my favorite story in the book.

The second story, "Anger," is really about anger. A family is going to lose their land, so the daughter agrees to sleep with the man in power. The anger and helplessness and stifled emotions that engulf the household is... . In all honesty, this story upset me so much I couldn't read the rest of the book for a few weeks.

The third story, "Madness," follows the poet Rene as he is trapped in a house without food for days. It's interesting how the poets seem to be singled out for persecution. It goes to show how the educated, no matter their specialty, are dangerous to those in power. This story breaks it's structure; it's written in two parts. It ends badly, like the others, but I think Vieux-Chavet is showing how there is no hope at the bottom of the box. The reality of Haitian life at the time is such that the scars are permanent and deep.

This was a very interesting read. I recommend it for those who want to take a step into international waters.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 1, 2009 – Finished Reading
January 17, 2010 – Shelved
February 23, 2011 – Shelved as: fiction

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by John (new)

John I thought you'd like this book after reading The Economist's review

message 2: by Black Elephants (last edited Mar 20, 2010 03:54PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Black Elephants I'm glad you recommended it, but I can't say it was a happy read. I think it falls into the category of art wherein part of the appreciation is in allowing the author to take you to dark places, no matter how unsettling they are, a la A Clockwork Orange or The Handmaid's Tale.

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