Old friends recall Edgar Mittelholzer pursuing them on the streets of New Amsterdam to sell them copies of his self-published collection of sketches of Guyanese life, Creole Chips. This was in 1937, long before he began the sequence of novels that established him as a pioneer of Caribbean writing in the 1950s and 60s. This compendium, collected and introduced by Juanita Cox, brings together the early, mostly Caribbean-based Mittelholzer: the strikingly speculative anti-capitalist novella, The Adding Machine; the wealth of short stories published in journals such as Bim, Kyk-over-Al, Caribia and broadcast on the BBC Caribbean Voices programme; his often witty plays and the poetry that shows Mittelholzer to have been a much more modernist voice than much of the Caribbean poetry of those years. In addition, this collection gives access to unpublished material, seen only by the most assiduous researcher, including essays that express Mittelholzer’s ideas about Caribbean writing and his philosophy of life.
But beyond bringing a hidden, more rootedly Caribbean Mittelholzer into the light, Creole Chips and Other Writings offers a wealth of pleasurable and engrossing reading. There is a playful good humour that rather disappears from Mittelholzer’s later work, and the 24 short stories first collected here show that in this form, at this time, Mittelholzer had few rivals. Contemporary Caribbean writers have been establishing speculative fiction and the Gothic as new ways of exploring the complex realities of the region; Mittelholzer was there long before them. His work is full of ideas and psychological insights, but he never loses sight of his mission to tell good stories and entertain.
This compendium contains: Fiction: Creole Chips, The Adding Machine.
Short Stories: Miss Clarke is Dying, Something Fishy, Breakdown, Samlal, The Cruel Fate of Karl and Pierre, Jasmine and the Angels, West Indian Rights, The Pawpaw Tree, The Burglar, Tacama, We Know Not Whom to Mourn, Sorrow Dam and Mr Millbank, Mr Jones of Port of Spain, The Amiable Mr Britten, A Plague of Kindnesses, The Sibilant and Lost, Wedding Day, Portrait with a Background, Only a Ghost We’ll Need, Hurricane Season, Towards Martin’s Bay, Gerald, Heat in the Jungle, Herr Pfangle.
Children's Story: Poolwana's Orchids.
Drama: The Sub-Committee, Before the Curtain Rose, Village in Guyana, Boarderline Buisness, The Twisted Man.
Poetry: Colonial Artist in War-time, Afternoon Reflections, Death in Prospect, Evening at Staubles, Epithalamium, Farewell to a Woman, For Better things, Just between us, Mazaruni Rocks, Poet Creating, Reality at Midday, Remembrances, To the Memory of Ken Johnson, Mood of February 11th 1940, Reality, For Me – the Backyard, Dove on Gasparee, In the Beginning – Now – and Then, Pitch-walk Mood, Meditations of a Man, Slightly Drunk, The Virgin, October 7th, Island Tints.
Essays & Personal Writing: Of Casuarinas and Cliffs, Carnival Close-up, Christmas, Romantic Promenade, Van Batenberg of Berbice, Roger Mais, Literary Criticism and the Creative Writer, At 43, A Personal View of the World.