Bob Shacochis (Eastern Caribbean 1975-76) on Amazon's Omnivoracious
by Neal Thompson on November 04, 2013
Over drinks at Seattle’s Brave Horse Tavern, Shacochis described his encounter in Haiti years ago with the “haunting” and “unpleasant” woman who became the inspiration for the main character in his new novel, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, which was an Amazon Best Book of the Month pick in September.
The National Book Award-winning author met the woman–“blonde, young, infuriating,” as he calls her in the opening line of the book–while covering the US occupation of Haiti for Harper’s Magazine. She claimed to be a photojournalist and asked Shacochis to give her a tour of a voodoo temple; during the drive there, she said she’d lost her soul. “I knew her for less than 36 hours, and I forgot her name within days,” he said. “But what happened in that temple disturbed me so much it haunted me for five years.
“I just never forgot her.”
It turns out that opening scene, and the character of Jackie Scott (aka Renee Gardner aka Dottie Chambers), are clues that The Woman Who Lost Her Soul is filled with autobiographical scenes. It’s also a big, meaty, sweeping beast of a book–a “doorstop,” as Shacochis put it.
We also discussed, over screwdrivers and beers, the “mourning period” that occurs after spending ten years writing a book.
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We were lucky enough to be at Shacochis’s appearance at Denver’s Tattered Cover. He was great. He signed my book highlighting the value of “good food and good friends and good books”. And for all of you with talent, words to write by!
His humorous presentation, however, did not prepare me for the brutal reality of the first part of the book. He describes with documentary precision the situation in Haiti when the US military, the NGOS, the CIA, the temporary Haitian winners in the ongoing civil strife, the reporters and assorted thrill seekers
all show up.