(photos by Allan Tyson)
Review of Ladyfingers: A Novel
by Maxwell Dumaurier
“Black folks on the French Riviera? Get outta here! The French Riviera is a location for F. Scott Fitzgerald characters, not Terry McMillan people,” most would probably think.
Well, let me tell you, us American colored folks have been living down there on the coast as well as in Paris.
THa't how I got here, myself.
Yours truly was inspired to explore the South of France by one of my favourite American authors, James Baldwin. Not only did he live in Paris, but he spent most of his adult life until his death in Saint Paul de Vence, on the French Riviera. Then there was black American entertainer Bobby Short. There were the jazz impresarios, George and Joyce Wein, the founders of the Nice Jazz Festival who had secondary residences in Vence. Let’s not forget the fact that Josephine Baker spent her last years with her Rainbow Tribe in Roquebrunne, on the French Riviera. Among many others who I won’t name out of respect for their privacy, I will add Miss Tina Turner, the author of Ladyfingers, Delorys Welch-Tyson as well as yours truly.
The author Delorys Welch-Tyson has taken characters usually associated with F. Scott Fitzgerald and paralleled their lives with characters you might find in a Terry McMillan novel to create hilarious midlife crisis tales of American women living on the French Riviera.
Basically, the story is that a famous American filmmaker (no…it isn’t Spike Lee) is planning a wedding banquet at the Negresco Hotel on the French Riviera. A ban of East Somarians plan to kidnap the American guests in order to demand ransom for their Anti-Sanction Society rebel organization. The kidnapping plan is foiled due to the lack of strategic planning and general confusion which seemed to prevail during the post 9/11 Bush Administration.
The there's the internationally famous Pop Diva (hints of Diana Ross, maybe?) in love with both a sadistic Belgian Mime and a manipulative record mogul. But that a whole 'nother parallel story!
This novel is written as humour and political satire
Is the story plausible? Yes. Absolutely, yes!
When did you discover writing?
When I was in elementary school. In first grade, a teacher taught us how to make books…writing, illustrating and binding… as an art project. I fell in love with the idea that such a thing could exist and began writing. For my seventh birthday a male cousin gave me a typewriter (Olivetti) as a gift. I emphasize that he was a male cousin because, unlike many budding writers, I was encouraged by both male and female relatives to write books.
How would your classify your self as a writer?
I write about the politics of human relationships. Publishers have also classified my novels from time to time as Romance. It wasn’t until I moved to Europe that readers told me that they classified my novels as erotic literature!
I don’t know if the American readers are in serious denial or undeniably repressed!
Although I am a writer, painting is also a passion of mine. Mostly, I create large, colorfully bold paintings of the human form. It could be said that I am positively in love with the beauty and expressiveness of the human being…in principle. Writing allows me to also colorfully paint our presence in stories using an additional medium…words.
Do you find writing to be a lonely and isolating profession?
Nevertheless, I have the companionship and support of my spouse and I am fortunate to be able to live and work in breathtaking surroundings…the South of France.
The most difficult part of writing, though, is the discipline required in writing. Most mornings when I wake up I pray that when I get to the computer that the book has already managed to write itself. Clean, edited and ready to send out!
Do you consider yourself an expat author? And are there any particular difficulties in being an American writer living abroad?
I don’t like the label “Expat”. The prefix makes me uncomfortable. Makes me think of ex-boyfriends, ex-roommates…you know…that sort of thing…
Nevertheless, as a female author, living abroad can bring surprisingly complicated repercussions. Publishers have a tendency to “pigeon-hole” authors. Meaning that if you successfully publish a novel taking place in a particular locale, populated by a particular group of characters, they tend to expect you to continue to write in that category. Business decisions are often conservative decisions based on the previous outcomes of a predetermined target audience’s buying patterns. A change in or broadening of an author’s lifestyle and perspective can result in very...
(continued on Bio page)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _