A Promise in Haiti.

Author:Curnutte, Mark
Position:Book review

Mark Curnutte (author); A PROMISE IN HAITI; Vanderbilt University Press (Nonfiction: Social Sciences) $25.00 ISBN: 9780826517838

Byline: Mark Curnutte

"Let us then hope better of our children, and of our children's children; let us know, let us know there is cure, there is to be an end to it," wrote James Agee after a month-long depression-era visit to Alabama, praying for an end to the poverty he saw among families of tenant farmers in Hale County.

Mark Curnutte, a reporter who covered football for nine years for the Cincinnati Enquirer, learned about Agee's writing during an interview with a filmmaker. Tiring of a life on the sidelines of "the toy department of human affairs," Curnutte set out to do in Haiti what Agee had done in Hale County: to document with "unsentimental exactness" the lives of three families steeped in poverty and to reveal in a book the "vast commonality" that all people share, hoping to stir compassion among readers for the poor of another country. The four weeks he spent with the families in 2006 and 2008 gave him the material he needed to paint the exquisite portraits -- in text and photographs -- that he presents in A Promise in Haiti: A Reporter's Notes on Families and Daily Lives.

Among the people Curnutte meets are two men, masons who rarely find work, a woman who wanted to be a seamstress but was unable to afford the required training, and a...

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