Dooling, Richard. White Man’s Grave. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994.
Reason read: this explanation is a little convoluted: Dooling was born in Nebraska. Nebraska became a state in March. Nebraska has nothing to do with the plot of White Man’s Grave.
When Peace Corps Volunteer Michael Killigan goes missing the people in his life react very differently. His father, Randall, a high powered bankruptcy lawyer, throws money and power at the situation, hoping he doesn’t have to get his hands too dirty with his son’s failings. Meanwhile, best friend, Boone Westfall, does the exact opposite. He throws himself headlong into the West African world of witch doctors and supernatural voodoo. Interestingly enough, the voodoo comes to Indiana. Randall receives a strange package; a bundle of black rags soaked in what looks like human blood. And that’s when the hallucinations start. Meanwhile, across the world the Liberian rebels are taking over Sierra Leone, corruption is leaking out from every corner. Secret societies of leopard men, bush devils, human baboons and witches prevail. In the midst of it all one question still remains, what happened to Peace Corps volunteer Michael Killigan?
Confessional: I got a little weary of the repetitive descriptions of gory witchcraft. Everything was matted in hair and blood and teeth.
Two quotes to quote: “His wife was terribly calm, almost formal, which told him something was terribly wrong, and she didn’t want to tell him on the phone, because she was afraid he would lean out of the clouds on Olympus and throw lightning bolts at her” (p 18), and “Randall held his breath and mastered a rogue emotion, which threatened to bolt from his stables and make an ass of him” (p 242).
Author fact: The photo Dooling used looks a little like Matt Damon. Another Dooling trivia: he lived in Sierra Leone in the early 1980s.
Book trivia: The cover of my edition of White Man’s Grave is creepy. A baboon with bleary eyes stares out from on top of a man’s muddied torso. The man is holding a bowl of bones and a picture of a man. Underneath the man’s torso are bare legs, one wearing a sneaker, the other barefoot. None of these images are proportional to the other so the overall effect is very disjointed and disturbing.
Nancy said: Nancy includes White Man’s Grave because it is one of two satirical novels about the culture clash in Africa.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “African Colonialism” (p 14). As an aside, this is the first book I am reading from this chapter. Isn’t it amazing? After almost 18 years of reading I finally chose a book from “African Colonialism.”