Ten connected stories from Cliff (Everything is Now) pursue the coming-of-age of an unnamed, Jamaican-born young woman finding her way from New York to London. Born to a mixed-raced family with old Victorian roots whose affluence is clearly dwindling, the girl of "Points of Departure" learns by age 10 how to "retreat" from great-grandmotherly admonitions for her own self-preservation. After the death of her depressed mother, and estranged from her distant, philandering father, the narrator comes by a "sense of things unexpectedly" in a Christian boarding school, and, while en route to graduate school in England in "Below the Waterline," she has a momentous lesbian encounter with Bex, who tells a ghastly tale of being attacked by hateful sorority sisters. In "Marooned," the narrator moves somewhat awkwardly among her student colleagues, gradually becoming politicized, especially by the anti-apartheid movement. Finally, the last two tales find a poignant convergence of the narrator's life and those who struggled before her. By rending the membrane between past and present, Cliff finds serene closure to these subtle, cautiously fashioned tales.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.