Crick Crack Monkey by Merle Hodge

cover with portait of young girl on front

a nutshell: written from the perspective of Tee, whose mother dies in childbirth & whose father emigrates to England, this short novel explores an upbringing suspended between the worlds of two aunts – aunt Tantie’s informal & exuberant world and Aunt Beatrice’s pretentious & ‘refined’ world

a line: “Books transported you always into Reality and Rightness, which were to be found Abroad” (underlining the oppressively ‘colonial’ nature of education)

an image: the vividly atmospheric descriptions of food & music at Tantie’s conjure such a warmth and richness that contrasts starkly with the coldness of Aunt Beatrice’s

a thought: Tee’s feeling of unnaturalness/alienation at Aunt Beatrice’s is conveyed powerfully in the two scenes in which she observes the sea “offensively” rolling in & out with “no respect” for anything, as if all is right in the world

a fact: published in 1970, when Hodge was in her mid-20s, this novel’s title refers to a Caribbean oral tradition whereby at the start/end of a story the storyteller calls “crick?” and the audience responds “crack”

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