VOICES OF THE OLD SEA by Norman Lewis (Viking: $15.95). After World War II, Norman Lewis sought "the familiar," a place that had not buckled under to change. He learned of Farol, a remote fishing village on Spain's Mediterranean coast. This was the place for him. He promptly settled in, rented a room from the Grandmother, self-appointed matriarch, a lady with clout who sometimes spoke for God. Lewis was made privy to the ways of old Spain. He rubbed elbows with the fishermen, the men who carried on traditions, recited tale-telling in free verse and refused to wear leather shoes. Like the rest of the villagers, fishermen regarded anyone or anything outside of Farol as an evil influence. Lewis witnessed the nuances of mores and ancient customs in this untouched village before Muga bolted into town. Muga was a local boy-turned-black profiteer. He had no neck, a bulging belly and wallet to match. Muga had taken it into his head to turn his old home town into a resort area. He offered the villagers a way to swap indigence for profit. All they'd give up in the bargain was their dignity. The townsfolk balked. The fishermen refused to pander to tourists. The pecksniffian Muga applied muscle, money and bribery. He bulldozed over old sentiment and buildings, tidied up the town and Farol fell to flocks of tourists. A few years later, when Lewis went back to Farol for a peek, locals in leather shoes were cowtowing to tourists. He has aptly described in a dispassionate manner the fine, poignant details of a village bullied into progress.
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