Bamboushay: Have a Good Time — Make Merry is a memoir recounting the author’s adventurous life, from her birth to Polish immigrants in 1931 to the present day.
The bare bones of the author’s story suggest a wealth of possibility. In 1965, the author and her husband sold all of their belongings, bought a sailboat and planned to sail around the world. Instead, they ended up stranded in the Bahamas, where they remained for most of their lives. This tale recounts their unconventional lifestyle, including sailing a charter boat, living a hand-to-mouth existence by working various jobs from water management to selling pre-fried bacon, then finally becoming successful real estate brokers. During these years, the author and her husband survived a plane crash, were rescued from a tropical island, had their boat stolen by pirates and became private pilots.
The memoir’s most enjoyable passages are the author’s descriptions of the wheeling and dealing necessary to make a living in the Bahamas. Also entertaining are the couple’s many adventures, from having their boss sign payroll checks while in jail to building their dream house and having President Clinton and his family stay there for vacation.
But the memoir never quite delivers the compelling read you would expect. The story is relayed in a basic timeline with no dramatic arc. It’s a straightforward accounting of events with almost no dialogue, a simple recitation of the author’s life. The writing, while certainly serviceable, lacks the compelling creativity and suspenseful structure necessary to hold a general reader’s interest. The text also contains many mechanical errors, including missing commas and random shifts between past and present tense.
General readers who are keen to know how to carve out a hardscrabble existence in the Bahamas may want to give this a try, but those looking for an engrossing story are likely to be disappointed, despite the richness of raw material here.