Notes from a Writer's
Book of Cures and Spells

Marcia Douglas knows the underside of paradise very well; she grew up in Kingston- Jamaica's capital, the place she refers to as the "edge of the world" and the setting for her second novel, Notes From a Writer’s Book of Cures and Spells (Peepal Tree, 2005.) The seed for this book came from childhood recollections of squatters in a Kingston cemetery, their clotheslines stretched above tombstones, a young girl singing amid the dead. .

Notes has at its center a Jamaican writer, Flamingo, whose life becomes intertwined with her fictional characters: Dahlia, a young girl growing up in West Kingston; her beautiful one-eyed sister, Alva, who dreams of fashion design in New York; their brother, Paul, who through his love for the coconut cakes in Mrs. Ying's (the Chinese shopkeeper's) showcase, comes to be called "Made in China;" and a Rastafarian Madonna who sits on a windowsill stealing keys, bottle caps and hair pins as people pass by. Through poverty, immigration and Jamaica's political upheaval, the siblings are dispersed, and it is Alva who solicits the help of Flamingo to bring the fictional family back together. In the world of this novel, storytelling serves as a metaphor for healing and the ability to tell a story is an act of magic.

Modeled after a writer's personal notebook, the novel makes a one-of-a-kind signature with pages embellished with the drawings Flamingo cannot stop herself from adding to the margins, an appendix of related found material, dream fragments, notes, clippings and photographs of a series of soul dolls—one for each character—made from island seeds, pods, moss, twigs and other findings.

Once in every few years, a work of art leaps up, head and shoulders above all. Poet Marcia Douglas’s magical novel set in Jamaica is one of those remarkable works… This is a special and precedent-setting book."

Jo Stanley/Morning Star
Notes from a Writers Book of Cures and Spells
Read an excerpt from Notes

Peepal Tree Press:
Leeds, Nov 2005

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