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Notes from a Writer’s Book of Cures and Spells

Written by Pauline Diamond for The Leeds Guide on no date provided

Writer Flamingo Tongue conjures her characters from herbs, seeds, dreams and tears, recording the process in her notebook, Notes from a Writer’s Book of Cures and Spells. On the kitchen table of her Jamaican home, Flamingo makes miniature dolls from sticks and seeds. She places offerings before each of the dolls, and transcribes from her dreams the stories the doll-characters ‘tell’ her.

There are dolls representing the Donovan family, whose world is destroyed by the violence surrounding the Jamaican election. With their parents shot dead before their eyes, young Dahlia and her brother seek shelter in the nearby cemetery, making a cardboard home for themselves and living off wild honey, while their older sister, the mysterious Alva, disappears to New York. There’s a doll for Sister Carmen Innocencia, the nun whose lover died while having sex with her, and who is desperate for release from her never-told story. There’s a doll for Willa, the Christmas Card Girl, who returns every Christmas Eve to the street corner where she waited as a child for her father the night he died. And there’s a greedy doll for one-eyed Alva, a conjurer of words and stories who doesn’t know what or who she is looking for.

The stories and histories of these magical characters loop and cross each other like tangled thread as the intricate connections between them are revealed. Flamingo never knows what will be uncovered in her writing from one day to the next, and as the dolls demand more for their offerings and food and precious objects mysteriously disappear from the house, she wonders just how much control she has over them and what exactly is her place in their stories.

This is a review of Notes from a Writer’s Book of Cures and Spells

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