Sailing To Noon
with Artemisia Vento and Frank Báez
ISBN 978-1-959556-58-9 414 pages $22.00
The Caribbean Trilogy
Though it stands fully on its own, Sailing to Noon is the first volume of The Caribbean Trilogy, three novels by Hoyt Rogers (with Artemisia Vento and Frank Baez). The second and third books, Midnight at Sea and Return to Day, are forthcoming; a sequel, The Caribbean Farewell, is in preparation.
Sailing to Noon will have an impact on readers worldwide. Though prodigiously versatile, it is accessible to everyone. Whether you catch the allusions or not, the energetic plot sweeps you forward, as in a play or a film. The voices speak for different levels of society, instead of limiting the narrative to only one. My favorite character is Amado, who personifies the Caribbean. He undergoes an evolution, almost a kind of redemption: that must be why the others yearn for his resurrection.
I was totally engaged with the novel Sailing to Noon from start to finish. It fully captures the ethos of the Spanish Caribbean, and the poetry of our islands: chaotic and sensual, pure and depraved, almost surreal. A truly unique world… The language is luminous, the tone extremely varied. Elements of satirical farce and magic realism abound; but there’s also a tragic undertone—though true to Caribbean form, even this is blended with high comedy.
On an expansive canvas, Hoyt Rogers has portrayed a sense of life that is freewheeling and all-forgiving. Rich and multifarious, Sailing to Noon has enormous vitality and texture: it is a big performance—the epic myth of Canuba. I greatly admire the atmospherics, tonal shifts, and drive of this book.
By the end of Sailing to Noon, the reader has a strong understanding of the class, color, and sexual divides and overlaps that roil the island with their many historical complexities. I loved the creation myth at the center of the novel, as well as the beautiful ‘nature writing.’ I really felt this book: I entered its geography, saw and smelled and moved in it, which is a tribute to its vivid intimacy. But the novel has important dollops of irony and the ludicrous, too, without which it would lose its comedic edge and wisdom.
If you missed out on a wild, sexy adolescence, or if your friends bore you, read Sailing to Noon. These people—so vital, so different from each other—are the most exciting you’ll ever meet, and Hoyt Rogers holographs them into pulsing existence. Did I mention he’s the world’s greatest ventriloquist, and can capture the speech of a Sicilian aristocrat or a Caribbean beefcake or a dozen other dialects? You should put this book in a tightly sealed drawer; otherwise, it’s so alive it might run away.
Hoyt Rogers has published his fiction and poetry in a wide range of periodicals, including The New England Review, AGNI, and The Fortnightly Review. As a prize-winning translator, editor, and essayist, he has worked with Viking, Knopf, Farrar Straus, Yale, Seagull, and various presses large and small. He has collaborated with Paul Auster, Yves Bonnefoy, Lincoln Kirstein, Philippe Claudel, and many others. He is the author of a poetry collection, Thresholds, as well as a study of the Late Renaissance. Please visit hoytrogers.com.
Artemisia Vento is the pseudonym of a travel journalist whose work appeared in countless magazines from 1978 until 2016, under different bylines. She specialized in writing about islands, above all in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, with a focus on village traditions and nature. At the end of 2016, she abandoned her career and withdrew from the world; she now lives a cloistered existence somewhere in Asia. The location of her community, and whether it is Buddhist, Christian, Vedic, interfaith, or secular, are secrets she keeps to herself.
Frank Báez has published six books of poetry, a short story collection, and three non-fiction works. He belongs to the Spoken Word band El Hombrecito, which has produced three albums. In 2006, he received the Short Stories Prize of the Santo Domingo International Book Fair for You’ll Have to Pay the Shrinks Yourself; and in 2007, the Salomé Urena National Poetry Prize for Postales. He was selected for the Hay Festival in 2017 as a member of Bogota 39, the best Latin American writers under forty. His work has been widely translated.