by Alison MacLeod.
St. Martin’s Press: 1996.
MacLeod really wants to teach us about old wives’ tales. This historical novel of the pirate Anne Bonny can’t go a single chapter without reciting some such thing; at first it was good local/temporal color, later it became annoying.
Strangely written novel, possibly borrows from magical realism tradition. Anne comes across as a 1990’s strong woman — a cross-dressing experimentally lesbian womyn who “gives birth to herself” and can do whatever men do as well as they do — yet, in the ultimate (unintentional?) irony, all of her actions are either directed by or reactions to men: her father, husband, or male lover.
As is often the case, the artsy-fartsy writing style, while interesting in its own sake, and done consistently well, ultimately leaves me distanced from both plot & character. And setting. Perhaps MacLeod’s intention was a disconnected feeling, yet something so physical as piracy ought to be more tangible.