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NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

By TiGeorges Laguerre
With Jeremy Rosenberg
Los Angeles, Ca: A Vireo Book / Rare Bird Books, 2015
ISBN: 9781942600251 190 pages

Bob Corbett
February 2016

Ti George Laguerreís rambling and often outlandish account of his life is a delightful light read. He tells a fascinating story, albeit with a suggestion of a bit of embellishment here and there, and gives the reader a quite clear picture of some of the struggles immigrants have in arriving in the U.S. and then, after being here, creating a life for themselves which was a far cry from what they originally expected or hoped for.

Ti George was born in Haiti in 1954. He mainly lived in Haitiís northwest. After a fairly happy life there, he decided to leave Haiti for better economic opportunities and moved to New York in 1970. Eventually he made his way to Los Angeles, hoping for a career in film making. However, when that didnít work out he created a life-time occupation by opening and running his Haitian restaurant in Los Angeles.

Ti George, as he likes to be called, points out up front and insistently that he has no interest at all in talking about Haitian politics, corruption, disasters, economy, even history. Rather, this is a book which he believes is much more about ordinary everyday Haitians, especially ex-pats, in their ordinary everyday reality, most especially, their habits of cooking and eating.

Heís been established for many years in the Los Angeles area. From Haiti he brought his Creole and French languages, and dishes. He picked up English and then, seemingly in California, added the Spanish, and does have a significant number of Spanish-speaking customers in his popular restaurant.

The book is fun reading. He sort of goes back and forth between talking in great detail, but without specific details of recipes, about various Haitian dishes and how, in a general manner, one prepares them. Along the way he gives the reader a folksy sort of autobiography. However, he is quite consistently and often repetitively reminding the reader that this is about the everyday Haiti and its food, and not about the misery, politics and natural disasters. He certainly acknowledges the existence of those topics but does regret that the overwhelming bulk of Haitian literature seems to be about those topics and too little, on his view, of the everyday life and diet of Haitians and the manner of preparing these foods.

Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu

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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu