Title: Every Boat Turns South
Author: J.P. White
Publisher: Permanent Press
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Hardcover: 240 pages
Every Boat Turns South mixes memoir-like adventure with a moving coming-home tale. The book opens and closes in Florida, but its sultry and terror-filled center is set in the Turks & Caicos Islands and in the Dominican Republic. By interweaving the Florida bedside scenes with Matt’s confessional account of his wild life in the Caribbean, White subtly builds sympathy for his ne er-do-well drifter, as Matt slowly reveals the truth about Hale by coming to understand his own impulses and needs and by cherishing, through memory, all that his father had taught him. The writing in both sections forcefully lyrical and full of maritime detail (sailors will love this book) suggests an autobiographical prompt, but clearly the author is in command of a style that effectively serves his complex plot. The flashbacks pulse with sensuality, the take on island natives and tourists is nothing less than superb: The hotel swarms with interracial couples strung together like rosary beads . . . white women, pale as chalk, lean into black men like they ve found the Rosetta stone. White men pull at strings of mulatto women like taffy. Meringue and rum, greed and sex rule. Everything. Everyone. As one of the novel s shrewd and exotic characters says, we all have our weaknesses once we get to the islands.
Action, adventure and drama on and off the high seas can be found in J.P. White’s debut novel Every Boat Turns South. The novel is told in a form of a confession to J.P.’s father after the protagonist, Matt Younger, makes his way back to Florida, shattered and without a penny to his name. Neither his mother Emily nor his father Jack “Skip” Younger is pleased to see him. Desperate for a drink and money, content with knowledge of where his father Skip keeps the hidden loot, his present concerns are to unburden himself. His father is dying and his mother assigns her only living son night duty, which works well, as he has wants, or rather needs, to confess all he has done these past three years to Skip. Once that is accomplished will he finally tell his side of the story the day Hale died. Every Boat Turns South is filled with action, adventure, prostitutes, criminals, running drugs and more, all of which is revealed in flashback by Matt, the prodigal son who returns home after a three year absence, in time to bare his soul to his dying father, and in so doing to find redemption. Through vivid imagery, near lyrical prose, and vibrant characters the reader is taken on a journey of the most unsavory kind through the Caribbean. Matt is an alcoholic who cannot hold down a job and has grown up in the shadow of his older brother Hale, whose death he has been blamed for. He forged his credentials and hired a crew from a bar to set sail on the Stardust, island hopping to the Bahamas, yet nothing goes quite as planned. Matt hopes to redeem himself in the eyes of his dying father and exhausted mother and start a new life. Every Boat Turns South is a wonderfully written debut novel by J.P. White and one that will resonate with the reader long after the book has ended and would make for an intriguing discussion group pick.
In the last 35 years, J.P. White has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews and poetry in over a hundred publications including The Nation, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review, and Poetry (Chicago). He is a graduate of New College in Sarasota, Florida, Colorado State University and Vermont College in Fine Arts. He is the author of five books of poems and a novel, Every Boat Turns South.
For more information about J.P. White, you can visit his website.
J.P. White’s EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR ‘10 officially began on May 3 and end on June 25 2010. You can visit J.P.’s blog stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.comduring the month of May to find out more about this great book and talented author!
I received a complimentary copy of Every Boat Turns South by J.P. White from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour. Receiving a copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.