a novel, by Christian Bauman
(Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 2005)
Details and Elle Recommended Read for 2005
"The prose in Voodoo Lounge reverberates in the white space around it. A strong, compelling work." – Robert Stone, National Book Award-winning author of Dog Soldiers and Damascus Gate
"[Bauman has written] a female voice that rings so true that it makes want to hunt down every person who ever raved to me about how well Wally Lamb 'got' women in She's Come Undone and force them to read this book." – Bookslut.com
"The opening days of the U.S. invasion of Haiti serve as backdrop for this visceral second novel from NPR commentator and former soldier Bauman. With action shifting from an army boat to a missionary ship to a hospital administering care to patients with HIV, Bauman reveals three lives entangled in a web of desperation and desire: young, determined army sergeant Tory Harris, the sole woman in her detachment; her former lover, Junior Davis, a disgraced soldier haunted by the sins of his past; and Haitian-American Marc Hall, an intelligence officer sent to occupy his mother's homeland. Bauman, who served in the U.S. Army Waterborne, including tours in Somalia and Haiti, has a knack for dropping readers right into the action. While it takes a chapter or two to get a grip on the gritty military lingo and staccato rhythm of Bauman's prose, the payoff is in his characters, who develop like a Polaroid portrait with devastating details emerging on each succeeding page. The term 'voodoo lounge' refers to the machine-gun nest on the port bow of a ship. Reading this startling novel is the literary equivalent of standing watch on that perch. – Allison Block, Booklist (starred review)
Tory Harris and Junior Davis were in love -- a fierce, drunk barracks love that finally exploded in deception and betrayal. When their paths cross again it is the opening days of the U.S. invasion of Haiti -- the strangest of America's "little wars" of the 1990s. Rooted in the inner struggles of its characters and the weight of their secrets, Voodoo Lounge is the story of addiction in a triangle: Harris, a young, driven sergeant, the only female in her detachment; Davis, the disgraced former soldier whose tragedy burns all it touches; and Marc Hall, a Haitian-American intelligence officer sent to occupy his mother's homeland.
In living, detailed portraits, the novel segues through an army boat, an old missionary ship, the depths of a Haitian prison, and a squatters' camp in the shadow of an HIV hospital. Voodoo Lounge emerges as a novel of longing and love, of excess and bareness, of betrayal flowing in the blood, and the cold, blind passion for redemption.
"When our generation started writing about war, we looked back to Heinemann, O'Brien, and Wolff -- when the next looks back, they'll be looking to Bauman." – Joel Turnipseed, author of Baghdad Express