Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Mr. Potter

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Mr. Potter

Article excerpt

Mr. Potter, by Jamaica Kincaid.

It's a curious axiom of literary fiction: when it seems to become what it's not, it succeeds best. Therefore, if you know empirically that what you're reading is not a true story but you find yourself believing that fiction is instead fact, that what you're reading is a biography and not a novel, it's high art and undeniably so. Jamaica Kincaid's Mr. Potter is an imagined biography of her father, a man whom she did not know but a man who worked as a taxi driver and chauffeur in the small island where she grew up. Kincaid describes the constancy of the sun and the sea there, the inevitability of the weather in prose almost as seamless as the sea itself and the sky that shines over her native land, the tiny Antigua she writes about with a nearly cosmic view. In this her tenth book, the author employs the use of repetition in her prose style a bit too much and so much so that it begins to sound like the reverberation from an electric guitar plucked irritatingly loud. …

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