Synopses & Reviews
chronicles a group of "settlers" (more like survivors) from the ravaged island of Manhattan, departing just as the Chrysler Building has mysteriously plummeted to the earth. This ragged band is heading down what's left of I-95 in a half-school bus, half-Millennium Falcon. Their goal is to establish an outpost in southern Virginia, find oil, and exploit the Indians controlling the area.
Based on actual accounts of the Jamestown settlement from 1607 to 1617, Jamestown features historical characters including John Smith, Pocahontas, and others enacting an imaginative re-version of life in the pioneer colony. In this retelling, Pocahontas's father Powhatan is half-Falstaff, half-Henry V, while his consigliere is a psychiatrist named Sidney Feingold. John Martin gradually loses body parts in a series of violent encounters, and John Smith is a ruthless and pragmatic redhead continually undermining the aristocratic leadership.
Communication is by text-messaging, IMing, and, ultimately, telepathy. Punctuated by jokes, rhymes, "rim shot" dialogue, and bloody black-comic tableaux, Jamestown is a trenchant commentary on America's past and present that confirms Matthew Sharpe's status as a major talent in contemporary fiction.
"A wonderfully warped piece of American deadpan, Sharpe's retelling of the Jamestown settlement has the settlers arriving in the Virginia swamp on a bus from Manhattan. There are numerous hints that civilization has taken some devastating hit, leaving Manhattan without oil or untainted food and engaged in a long war with Brooklyn. Hence, the venture into the wilds of the Southern states. The settlers are led by John Ratliff, whose mother's boyfriend is the CEO of Manhattan Company. The Indians, who speak English (a fact they try to dissemble), owe their 'reddish' hue to their use of sunblock SPF 90. They're led by Powhatan and advised by Sidney Feingold and they lack guns. The story follows the traditional romantic arc, as Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas, falls in love with one of the settlers, the lank, sallow, greasy-haired communications officer, Johnny Rolfe, and saves the life of another, Jack Smith. The narrative alternates first-person accounts, allowing Sharpe (The Sleeping Father) to weave his preternatural sense of parody into an increasingly dire story of killings and kidnappings. The chapters narrated by Pocahontas are virtuoso exercises in language, as MySpace lingo metamorphoses into Jacobin rhetoric, blackface dialect and back again. This is a tour-de-force of black humor." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] vulgar, cacophonous Sound and the Fury-style book for the wired generation, featuring all your favorite Jamestown characters tossed into a postapocalyptic salad. Like a gorier George Saunders. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
"[A] gonzo reimagining of the founding of the famous Virginia colony, which this year celebrates its 400th anniversary....It's all quite entertaining but may bewilder those hoping for a more conventional narrative (not to mention those unfamiliar with the history of the real Jamestown colony)." Houston Chronicle
"At heart a dystopian love story, Jamestown is also a satire of American myth-making, a witty reflection on the practice of history, and a wry, wounded celebration of the jouissance of sexual pleasure, devotion, art and language, even in a world where necessity has trumped desire." Newsday
"[A] wild, violent, mordantly hilarious retelling of how the first permanent English settlement in the New World came into being." Los Angeles Times
A band of futuristic survivors from the cataclysmic decimation of the Chrysler Building sets out to establish an outpost in southern Virginia with an intention of finding oil and exploiting the region's Native American controllers, an effort aided by text-messaging technology and telepathic plots. By the author of The Sleeping Father.
About the Author
Matthew Sharpe is the author of Stories from the Tube. He has published stories in Zoetrope, Harper's, American Letters and Commentary, Witness, The Quarterly, and Fiction. He lives in New York.