Mike Sharpe (author); CANDIDE THE TENTH AND OTHER AGITATIONS; North Castle Books (Fiction: Literary) 19.95 ISBN: 9780765636775
Byline: Camille-Yvette Welsch
In the novella that begins this collection of various genres, Voltaire's Candide has spawned a tenth generation who, like his forebear, journeys to discover the nature of man and does so under the guidance of a mentor, here named Presto. The novella sets the stage for the style imitations, poems, essays, and stories that follow. Sharpe invokes Dickinson, Kafka, Hemingway, and more. The references to such literary giants may have misfired; their presence highlights some of the writer's incapacities.
Founder of M.E. Sharpe books (an imprint of which published this work), the author has two previous collections of poems, a collection of articles, and an academic book, John Kenneth Galbraith and the Lower Economics. A learned man, he brings that education to this volume, writing from the premise of the tenth Candide. This Candide is rich and under the guidance of his CIA agent mentor, Presto, accesses catastrophes from Hurricane Katrina to the Congo. Candide observes man's inhumanity to man, and while his tutor rationalizes it away as impossible to change, Candide is alarmed and eager to help suffering people. Twenty-four vignettes serve as a litany of horror; and while Candide's moral dilemma grows, the novella disappoints at the end. Suddenly the point of view shifts from first person to third; Candide committs a crime off-stage about which the audience knows nothing; his fiancA[c]e appears, and they marry. With confusing abruptness, the story wraps up but without any real climax or epiphany.
The novella's first twenty-four vignettes are the book's strongest, but the rushed ending and break in the...