The Untamed Passions of an Enigmatic Jamaican Man

By Donovan Moore

Reviewed, 20 May 2022

Donovan Moore is certainly an enigma. He presents his thoughts out of sequence, arranged more by importance than chronology. He is possessed first by one facet of his life, then the next, but the threads tying it together hide between the lines. Explicitly sexual and searingly graphic, Moore isn’t shy with the juicy details. Not so with matters of the heart. He withholds recollections of childhood and close friendships. On an endless quest for a love that satisfies the soul, he admits himself a philandering husband doomed to the sadness of repeated losses.

Jamaica is more complicated than Montego Bay’s squeaky-clean resorts and beaches. Moore’s horror stories of rampant crime, police brutality, and murder contradict the island’s good-time, ganja smoking reputation. A history of racist colonialism, Christian moralizing, and income disparity infuriates Moore. His anger fuels discord at church and at work. A string of affairs with gullible women leads him not to love and fulfillment, but to repeated disappointment. When he moves his teenage lover into his marital home, we know it can’t end well. Yet the girl’s brutal murder is a terrible shock. And Moore, desensitized to the violence and ducking police suspicion, cannot even grieve.

The island’s ingrained

violence, misogyny,

and homophobia will

trouble readers unfam-

iliar with post-colonial

politics and African-

Caribbean culture

Moore intends to leave us with an enigma. He engages readers with the memoir of an educated, unassuming Jamaican man, ending with a sly refusal to tie up the loose ends. Instead, he promises his future books will fill in the gaps. But as he loses his moral compass, the island’s ingrained violence, misogyny, and homophobia will trouble readers unfamiliar with post-colonial politics and African-Caribbean culture. It’s hard to read the outdated terms ‘third world country’ and ‘mulatto’ in 2022. The influence of Jamaican patois crossed with Moore’s MBA business-speak holds us at a distinct emotional distance. If we are dedicated to equality for marginalized people, authentic voices are crucial reading. Though Untamed Passions is disquieting, it adds insight to the mountains left to climb.

Thank you to Reedsy Discovery for an Advance Readers Copy of this title. Untamed Passions of an Enigmatic Jamaican Man launches 1 June 2022.

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