LITERATURE: Jamestown – Setting

Well, as with most apocryphal novels we get an immediate sense of uh-oh, something’s wrong from the opening chapters. We recognize the fact that the world around the characters has changed, though we never find it clear as to what happened or when.  I noticed this in McCarthy’s The Road as well, and while it may not be important to the story, it does itch the mind and set it to an almost anti-enjoyment factor because you are thinking of the author.  You know, the guy who wrote the book and shouldn’t be intruding upon the story this way, but because he hasn’t given you all the facts, you feel he’s withholding something and you don’t trust him.  You tread lightly and keep looking over your shoulder as you read.

And frankly, I do find it a bit more important when you have folks that appear to be in a normal contemporary setting (or from one) that are talking funny.

Thinking in English is beautiful sort of in the way it is beautiful to have smoked a big bowl of busthead.  (p. 7)

We on this bus are brothers by default.  We breathe each other’s breaths, fumes, and farts.  That a flake of Martin’s shed skin, while riding the currents of the bus’s inner wind, should land on my lunchmeat is a likelihood too great not to make my peace with. (p. 13)

These two are actually some of the lovelier use of language here that Sharpe employs. Yet it is hard for me to accept the language of the first speaker above, Pocahontas, who at nineteen speaks a bit like a goofy thirteen year-old.  We do know that English is a second language for her, so maybe that’s a part of it, and she does get the dirty words right. She is heartbreakingly honest, yet I feel I am reading teenage poetry.

So far (and yes, I’ve peeked ahead to see the layout of the novel) the chapters are alternating between Pocahontas and Johnny Rolfe, each in the first person pov, each addressing the unknown reader as if leaving a record of their journals for posterity.  But there is one big difference between them:

Johnny Rolfe:  To whoever is out there, if anyone is out there:  (p. 3)

Pocahontas:  To the excellent person I know is reading this:  (p. 7)

Johnny Rolfe:  To the one whose existence I doubt:  (p. 11)

Pocahontas:  Dear person who by reading these words will know me deeply and truly, (p. 15)

Johnny Rolfe:  Dear air:   (p. 19)

Pocahontas:  Dear special person out there getting to know me:  (p. 23)

The difference is faith.


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