Montaro Caine by Sidney Poitier
Spiegel & Grau
May 7, 2013; 320 Pages
Montaro Caine, CEO of the Fitzer Corporation, is losing control of the company he built just as his teenage daughter is experiencing her own difficulties. At this moment of crisis, a man and woman appear at his office with a coin of unknown provenance, composed of a metal unknown on Earth. Montaro immediately recognizes it as the companion of a coin he analyzed as a graduate student working in a lab at MIT, which was later returned to its unidentified owner. The coin’s appearance draws the attention of scientists, collectors, financiers, and thieves, all of whom vie to get their hands on it, and Montaro himself hopes that the discovery of the coin will save his company. But the value of the coin lies not in its monetary worth but in its hold on the people who come into contact with it. These include the young woman who is not aware of the object that was found in her hand at birth; an old man who, as a boy, crafted a wooden compact as a gift for a young Montaro Caine; and the elusive healer Matthew Perch, who, from his hut on a small Caribbean island, knows precisely why these people have been brought together and what wisdom the coin imparts.
In his first novel, the beloved actor and director Sidney Poitier takes us on a wild and unexpected adventure—from New York to Europe to the Caribbean and beyond. The novel offers Poitier’s heartfelt message about the potential each of us has within ourselves, and about being open to the possibility that there are mysteries in the universe, and here on Earth, far greater than we can imagine. An enthralling journey into the magic of existence, Montaro Caine is a radiant debut from an American legend. (from Amazom.com)
Praise for Montaro Caine!
Wow. Sidney Poitier is a wonderful writer. If you've ever seen him act, then you know that there is a presence about him that sets him apart from other actors. He has a certain kind of grace and eloquence that you see in even his roughest characters. Amazingly he has been able to transfer all of that to his writing making this one of the most captivating books I've read in a long time.
While the premise for the story is the kind that I normally shy away from (I'm not much into science fiction), I wanted to see what Mr. Portier had to offer the literary world. As you can tell, I was drawn in from the very start. I tried to describe the story to a co-worker, but I don't think I did it justice. Mainly because I was telling her about the "things" that happened. The discovery of the coin, the "witch-doctor" in the Caribbean, his struggling business, and the diverse people that he meets. But really the story is much deeper than that. It is an opportunity to consider our world and ourselves, the things we know and the things we think we know. Through Montaro we experience extraordinary events that on one hand seem impossible, and on the other seem as reasonable as the amazing acts of nature that we accept as real and true.
The deeper into the book I got, the more time I spent thinking. It is a rare occasion that a novel is the catalyst for such intense reflection. I always have a pad of sticky notes handy when I read so I can easily mark passages that I want to visit again. Typically I'll mark one or two. In the case of Montaro Caine by the time I was finished the book was littered with stickies. And I thought, could it be that there are that many good quotes? The answer is yes. Here are some of my favorites.
Quotes that are too good not to share.
"If you listen hard enough, your ears will begin to see things. And one day you will be able to listen to someone and see their real meaning hidden underneath their words. And sometimes you will even find those meanings sitting right on top of their words, as bold as ever, because a lot of people won't know that your ears can see the truth."
"Does a man run faster to avoid the loser's destiny or to embrace the winner's reward?"
"Sometimes what we hear isn't always what we see."
"Time spent seeking answers to questions as profound as the ones we're addressing is rarely ever wasted."
"Any judgement I would make in that regard would be based on another belief I hold, which states that anything the human mind can conceive is possible, however impossible it may appear to the rational mind."
"What each person sees with his or her eyes is instantly transmitted through highly sensitive regions of one's internal self, across a network of instincts, intuitions, emotions, through countless chambers of our brains, and on into the most private place inside ourselves, where a judgement is made as to the importance of what we see, and how what we see might apply to our ongoing struggle to survive as individual human beings."
"Listen to what you can't see, my boy, watch what you can't hear, listen carefully to your inner voice, and trust your instincts. When the time to act arrives, I'm sure you will know how to proceed."
Why not see for yourself?
Montaro Caine is a book that I can recommend with confidence. There are so many reasons why I enjoyed it (the writing, the story, the personal relationships, the possibilities...) and I think that it will appeal to wide audience. Whether you're a fan of Sidney Poitier, Science Fiction or just looking for something different and interesting to read, this one is worth a try. If you're wondering if there's anything that I didn't like, the answer is yes. I was disappointed a bit in the ending. Of course I can't tell you why without giving things away, but it just felt like it didn't have the strength and intensity the rest of the story had. However, it's no reason to avoid the book.
On a final note, I have to say that I am wildly impressed with Mr. Poitier. He has long been a favorite of mine and it's because of my fondness for him in the movies that I decided to give his book a try. I found the following interview from March 2013 on YouTube and watching it reminded me why he is such an iconic figure in the entertainment industry.
The author on his career and his first novel.
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