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Robert William Antoni, a young Bahamian-American writer, adds his own voice to the rich New World literary tradition of magical realism. Frogchild on the Day of Christus Corpi explores seventy-five years of Caribbean history as seen through the eyes of an old physician recalling the central mystery that spans the generations of his family—the birth of a frogchild to the nun Magdalena. This imaginative tale is embellished by the voices of the octogenarian doctor's grandparents and parents, Zoe the family maid, the fanatic Mother Superior Maurina, and Magdalena herself, who commits suicide as soon as she sees the child's grotesque features. Time shifts fluidly as each narrator layers facts and reveals involvement in the creation of the myth of Magdalena's misfortune, and her ultimate canonization as the Black Virgin, patron saint of the Maraval Swamp. In the following excerpt, the author introduces us to his blend of fantasy and reality through an encounter between a fisherman, the physician's grandson, and Zoe, the family maid. TWO-HEAD FRED AND TREE-FOOT FRIEDA / Robert William Antoni ILOVED ZOE because she helped raise me, because she let me pinch her breasts when my mother wasn't around, and because she told me she ate Barbados rat for whooping cough. I loved Jook Jook because he helped raise me, because he let me sip from his rum bottle when my father wasn't around, and because he told me he ate Whatlin's Island iguana for grimps. I'd never been to Barbados, never been to Whatlin's Island, never seen an iguana, but I'd seen enough rats to prepare myself for sudden death should I ever get whooping cough or grimps. "Who dat pretty young gal you all bring wid you dis time?" "Zoe?" "I ain' know she name, but dat gal get tottot fa so!" "What are tot-tots?" I asked. Jook Jook laughed. "Boobie, boy." He let go the tiller to squeeze a nipple of mine between a thumb and forefinger of each hand. "Tottot is tittie." "That's Zoe with the tot-tots," I said. "She's our maid." The thought of spending a month of my summer vacation at Deep Water Cay was anything for me but exciting; this was only the first day. The island was tiny, desolate, sandfly-infested, and surrounded by sea. The bigger I grew, the smaller Deep Water Cay shrank. I cannot tell you how small an island two miles long and fifty yards wide can feel to an eleven-year-old. It would require the full measure of my persistence and whatlessness to find any excitement on the rock. I had lots of time on my hands; ideas were already taking shape in my head. "So how do you like Zoe, Jook Jook?" "I ain' know she yet. How long she work wid you fambly?" "She's lived with us since Christopher and I were babies." "How come you nevah bring she here before?" "She always wanted to stay at home. Besides, our house here is too small." "She Bahamian?" "No. She's from Trinidad." "Oh-ho." "She even eats rats!" "Dat musie why she so pretty." "And has those nice tot-tots!" The only good reason to come to Deep Water Cay, as far as I was concerned, was to see Jook Jook. He would come across from McClean's Town to do odd jobs for my father, and sometimes to take Christopher The Missouri Review · 87 and me with him fishing, conching, and misbehaving. Jook Jook was the greatest conch and woman jooker in all the world. For years he'd taken the title of King Conch Jooker at the Conch Jooking And Slopping Contest held at McClean's Town every Boxing Day. For even longer, Jook Jook had been sought after by every woman from Pelican Point Village to End Of The World Rock and farther. "How's that three-legged woman from White Sound doing?" "She be fine. Except now she get corn on she big toe." "Which one?" "Middle foot, I tink it is." "How's she ride her bike then?" "I ain' know." "If it was one of her...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 86-100
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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