Best Nightmare on Earth

Gold, Herbert. Best Nightmare on Earth: a Life in Haiti.New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1991.

I love reading books that hold hands. The Comedians by Graham Greene is mentioned a bunch of times in Hebert Gold’s Best nightmare on Earth. Because I had read (inadvertently) The Comedians before Nightmare I knew what Gold was talking about. I could relate and it just worked out that way. Funny how Pearl didn’t call these two books “companion reads” because they seem like they were meant to read together.
Herbert Gold discovered Haiti on a Fulbright Scholarship. This was to be the beginning of an addiction to a hellish paradise. For the next forty years Gold traveled between the States and the Caribbean trying this craving. Through Best Nightmare on Earth Gold does his best to explain this curious attraction while holding nothing back. He peels back the layers of politics and corruption to reveal exotic grace and mystery. Papa Doc (both father and son) rule the land while voodoo rules all. Gold’s descriptions of the violence, the celebrations, the loves and losses are as vivid as the realities of greed and poverty.

Favorite quotes, “Despite my yearning for privacy, I also needed sociability, the opening and the shutting of the mouth to utter companionable sounds” (p 112), “Wasn’t running something that human beings took up in hostile environments, in worlds of desert hunting and forest seeking, chasing animals, preening for partners, sometimes being chased?” (p 191), and “Proud despair is the mood of everyone” (p 199).

Author Fact: Herbert Gold was a member of the Beat Generation and dear friends with Allen Ginsberg.

Book Trivia: For those wanting to know more about Haiti (the good, the bad and the ugly) Best Nightmare on Earth is almost always listed in the bibliography.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Contradictory Caribbean: Paradise and Pain” (p 55).

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