Strange Words by Patrick Chamoiseau [Review]

Allow the strange words to work their secret magic, and above all, read these stories only at night. Remember I wrote them with the moon as my sole companion…

— from the author’s introduction.

With the above extract from the author’s introduction also printed on the front cover, how is a poor book fan supposed to resist? 😉 I obviously couldn’t when I visited the library a few weeks ago, because it came home with me!

I’d not head of the author before, so I only had the blurb and front cover to go by, and when all’s said and done, I’m pretty glad it did. But what is the book about?

Well there are a dozen short stories re-told by the author which are based on traditional Creole folktales. If you want to know how to avoid the devil of gluttony, make your fortune, or the importance of showing a little kindness in your leadership, then there are stories in this book to guide you.

Be-warned though, like folktales the world over, there is tricksiness woven through these dark little tales, things aren’t always as they seem to  be, or indeed explained to us the listener (I say listened, because they are written in the style of a wandering-minstrel  relating his tales to a rapt audience of which you are part.)

Dark, wicked and vivid words, are these and as Chamoiseau recommends, they are perfect for reading on a summer’s night. I’ll be honest though, and this is a problem I have with a lot of short stories, so it is more to do with the form, than the book itself, but I just couldn’t connect with the stories the way I had hoped, and no doubt they deserved.

‘yes indeed, it was she, the chamber-pot crony of more than one old zombie, the Bat King’s bedfellow in the buff, practically chief undercook in hell’s kitchen, yes, her!’

Buy: Strange Words by Patrick Chamoiseau from The Book Depository.