Easy in the Islands (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Easy in the Islands is a collection of nine short stories linked by location and a feeling for Caribbean life. Seriocomic in mode, the stories are best in their evocation of the color and music of island life, whether Barbados or Saint Vincent. More than half the stories first appeared in Playboy magazine or Esquire magazine, two of the best contemporary fiction markets in the United States, and the collection itself won the American Book Award for Best First Fiction in 1985.
Most of the stories focus on the interplay—sometimes conflictive but nearly always comic—between mainland and island cultures. One story, probably the weakest, is set in Florida and has only mainland characters; another is set in the Cayman Islands and has no major white characters. The majority of the stories in the collection, however, set between these poles of color and geography, focus on the intersection between white and native cultures, as visitors from the United States, both long- and short-term, grapple with the “enigma” (Shacochis’ epigraph is from Joseph Conrad) of island life. As Tillman, the leading character in the title story, explains, nothing on the islands “ever made sense, unless you were a mystic or a politician,” but, at the same time, life there “had a certain fullness” and was “authentic in the most elemental ways.”
Shacochis’ characters try to unravel the enigma: The best learn something about...
(The entire section is 1798 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Booklist. LXXXI, December 1, 1984, p. 484.
Kirkus Reviews. LII, December 1, 1984, p. 116.
Library Journal. CX, February 1, 1985, p. 114.
The New York Times Book Review. XC, February 17, 1985, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVI, November 30, 1984, p. 81.
Saturday Review. XI, January, 1985, p. 79.
Time. CXXV, February 18, 1985, p. 100.
(The entire section is 37 words.)