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Austin C. Clarke.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1965, 1984.
183pp, paper, $4.95.
ISBN 0-7710-9332-2.
New Canadian Library #179.

Reviewed by Philip K. Harber.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November

This reissue invites comparison with the author's more recent autobiography, Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack* and with George Lamming's In the Castle of My Skin (Michael Joseph, 1953): all three books describe the Barbados childhood of black children who will grow up to escape poverty and prejudice by the route of education and self-imposed exile. There is a picaresque raw power and immediacy in Amongst Thistles and Thorns that conveys Clarke's own feelings of pain and rejection better than the autobiography; the flavour and verve of the dialogue rivals that of Lamming's fine novel without attaining the psychological depth of the latter's memories of adolescence. The true-to-life fears and joys of young Milton could be those of any child, but somehow Clarke endows them with an exaggerated drama and colour born of the folk culture flourishing in the villages and tenantries behind the tourist facade. Mature students and all teachers interested in the West Indies will be amused and at the same time instructed.

*Reviewed vol. VIII/4 Autumn 1980 p.244.

Philip K. Harber, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, ON.
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