You can read the entire 1st chapter right now, for free. Click here.
Soon after Charlie Jumper, the hero of Forever Island, learns that the patch of swamp he has occupied in the Everglades for sixty years is to be cleared to make room for a housing development, he poles his ancient dugout deep into the swaying River of Grass. He gazes into the peaceful sunset, surrounded by the natural beauty of his land, and he thinks about the past: [View video of this excerpt here]
Charlie . . . had seen the white man come into this land and slaughter the egret for its feathers, shooting them only when nesting on the rookery, killing them by the hundreds of thousands, and leaving the young either to die in the nest or be eaten by vultures . . ., the water around the mangroves turning red with blood; and he had seen the white man come into this land and slaughter the alligator, shipping out their hides fifty thousand at a time to be made into wallets and shoes . . .; and he had seen the white man come with his mules and his curses and his saws and his puffing trains and strip the land of the giant bald cypress, cutting them down like fields of sugar care; and he had seen the white man wipe out the tree snails so that their shells could be sold as trinkets; and he had seen the white man dig the canals and drain the land and come closer and closer until he was now here again, once more telling the Seminole that he could not live on this land because the white man wanted it. ~ Patrick Smith
This passage strikes the theme Forever Island. It is about the encroachments of “civilization,” in the form of the white man’s greed and rapacity, on one of the nation’s last natural strongholds, the Florida Everglades. The white man is the unrepentant villain, with his utter disregard for anything except his own welfare, his own profit, his own law.
Forever Island has become the classic novel of the Everglades, evoking this haunting landscape in Smith’s straight-forward storytelling style.
Forever Island is the novel that vaulted Patrick Smith to international fame as a writer of fiction. It has been published in 36 countries. Due to the success of this book in the Soviet Union, Patrick and his wife were flown to Russia and given an all expense paid trip through the USSR for two weeks. Smith subsequently returned to Russia on another trip, followed by a trip to Bulgaria, all as a result of this book’s popularity. You can read about Smith’s trip through the Soviet Union in his non-fiction book, In Search of The Russian Bear.
You can read the entire 1st chapter right now, for free. Click here.
A Book Review of Forever Island
Acclaimed Historical Novel Speaks Of Naples, Integrity And Spirituality
by Steven Skelley
The history of beautiful Naples, FL is a major ingredient in the delightfully emotionally-moving recipe of Patrick D. Smith’s acclaimed novel Forever Island.
Two dear friends recommended the book to me recently and, as I began to read, I was immediately transported back in time to a land of both a forgotten kind of integrity and yet also a seemingly insatiable greed to remove nature from our beautiful state and replace it with development after development and golf course after golf course.
Forever Island is the story of Charlie Jumper, a native American who lives in the Everglades not far from Naples. His wife, Lillie Tiger, makes clothes that are often sold to the white people in Naples. They try to live a simple life in tune with nature, only taking what they need and always trying to give back to their environment as they understand that life and nature work together in the big plan of planet earth.
Each year of Charlie Jumper’s 86 years on earth have seen Florida’s natural beauty reduced and lost forever. For over 60 years, Charlie has hand fed his best friend, Little George, a nearly 20 foot long alligator Charlie saved when it was a baby from being blinded and tortured just for fun by a white tourist.Charlie Jumper and Lillie Tiger try to pass on their love and unity with Florida’s natural beauty and variety to their son and young grandson even as they watch the Florida they know disappear.
At one point a Baptist preacher asks Charlie Jumper if he is a religious man. Charlie’s reply is one we should all consider carefully.”I was once a Baptist like you….and the white missionary came to me and told me that the Indian way was all wrong and that if I ever wanted to see the Great Spirit, I would have to become the Baptist and do it the white man’s way. So I became the Baptist. And then another missionary came and he was the Methodist….he told me that the Baptist way was not the right way and if I wanted to see the Great Spirit, I would have to become the Methodist. And then another white missionary came and he was the Presbyterian… he told me that the Methodist way was not the right way and if I wanted to see the Great Spirit, I would have to become the Presbyterian. I said to him that if the white man cannot decide among themselves which is the right way I will become the Indian again and seek the Great Spirit in my own way….and that is what I have done, and I will see the Great Spirit when the time comes.”
Later in the book, developers begin to poison the land with arsenic in an effort to rid it of nature’s encyclopedia of wildlife. Charlie Jumper watches friends, both animal and human, suffer and die along with the Florida he has known his entire life.
Forever Island is a classic novel by a Pulitzer Prize nominated Florida author that remembers the Naples and Florida that once was, the kind of integrity that has become so rare, and the kind of child-like simple faith that we all need.
Reprinted from a column by Steven Skelley in the Naples Sun Times newspaper.
~New York Times Book Review
“An eloquent story of the basic conflict between those who know and love the land and those who would exploit it, the story of what has become the classic conflict of today. It may well be that we all will persist or perish by its outcome.”
“This is a quiet, intensely human narrative, beautifully told, with homely humor.”
~ Columbus Dispatch
“Warm, human and to the point in its dramatization of some men’s blind and greedy need to overrun the natural world and those whom it sustains.”
~ Publisher’s Weekly
This is a little book, a gentle book,much like Bach’s ‘Jonathan Living Seagull’ or Gallico’s ‘The Snow Goose’.”
“This is as very tender and heart-rending book. It has the quality of an American folktale and the pathos of an American tragedy. Smith seems to want us all to sit down beside a fire as the teller of tales begins to unwind a story about the ways of the modern American, how he lived, and he he destroyed himself.”
~Jackson Daily News
This is a most timely book, considering the current issue at Wounded Knee and heightened awareness of the Indians’ mistreatment. The scattered pen and ink drawings add to the beauty of the book.”
“In Forever Island, Patrick D. Smith has included something for everyone – but primarily a lot for the environmentalist and student of Indian history. The book entertains and makes you think. Are the new ways really the best? Forever Island is strictly ‘G’ rated entertainment.
“Smith has unwound a moving tale of a way of life threatened by other philosophies and other motives.”
~ Des Moines Register
“Forever Island by Patrick D. Smith is a moving story of an old Seminole Indian, Charlie Jumper, who has lived all his life in the Everglades only to see it invaded by developers in the name of progress.”
~St. Paul Pioneer Press
“Whether one is on the side of the developer or on the side of the environmental-minded Seminole or other individuals who seek to preserve one of man’s last big outposts of nature, the book ‘Forever Island’ is one recommended as ‘Must Read.'”
~ Naples Daily News
“If ever a novel speaks eloquently for itself, Forever Island, published by Norton, does.”
~ KTIB Broadcasting