Barbadians may despair, but heroes are where you least expect them… Ask Robert E. Sandiford!

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need…

Leaping the Central Bank building in a single bound, faster than a Mini Moke in fifth gear, able to toss Black Belly Sheep like marbles… Is it a Minister playing hob with Barbadian finances? Is it a criminal getting violent because he feels Police are overworked? You better watch out, the new batch of Elected may soon be here for you and we don’t mean by votes! They are found in “And Sometimes They Fly,” a mesmerising retelling of Barbadian and Caribbean myths in a world where neither USA nor Europe are not the battlefields of modern Gods and Demons, but Barbados!

{PERSONAL FILE IMAGE} Considering the number of things Robert does, including freelance for Reuters - we suspect he could write of Bajan superheroes from his own direct experience?

{PERSONAL FILE IMAGE} Considering the number of things Robert does, including freelance for Reuters – we suspect he could write of Bajan superheroes from his own direct experience?

This is the tenth book from the fertile pen (keypad?) of Robert E. Sandiford, if his name sounds familiar? He was Literary Editor at the Nation for a while, he has been very busy since then – ArtsEtc, erotica illustrated by a renowned Conan artist and a cricket anthology apart from a slew of essays… He is married and a daddy, I presume breathing is optional?

This book may appear slender but once you start it holds you like one of of the baccou found in his wild ride and will not let go until you drain every last drop off of the pages like a succouyant wanting more! When I was at AnimeKon earlier this year, I queried Robert and here are his answers…

Now he did not want to give away too much and neither do I but what I will say is Superman was split in two – one Bajan hero flies while the sole gal has Kal-El‘s strength, thus Superman asunder? Yet the Flash hails from Montreal (like how the author spent his childhood) so this unblooded trio are expected to play a crucial role in defeating the all too literal demons unleashed from the tragedy of 9/11.

There is a composite character called Jimmy Weatherhead who seemed to be a prophet in spite of himself, in the Acknowledgments the true identity was revealed but for me I felt echoes of another writer who also held a passion for Barbados, the late Jimmy Cozier. While the book looks at many real people made larger than life and even bonded with their appropriate totems (like the Arawak guardian who roams the Graeme Hall swamp making sure Bajans on the island's south coast can sleep easy, it is very clear he's based on a frequent contributor to this website who also has a keen interest with Amerindian culture).

There is a composite character called Jimmy Weatherhead who seemed to be a prophet in spite of himself, in the Acknowledgments the true identity was revealed but for me I felt echoes of another writer who also held a passion for Barbados, the late Jimmy Cozier. While the book looks at many real people made larger than life and even bonded with their appropriate totems (like the Arawak guardian who roams the Graeme Hall swamp making sure Bajans on the island’s south coast can sleep easy, it is very clear he’s based on a frequent contributor to this website who also has a keen interest with Amerindian culture).

Old Sam Lord, Mr Harding, Shaggy Bear and Heart Man all are part of the Dali-esque nightmare of Barbadian villainy unleashed… But it is the Steel Donkey, whowhile like an animalised version of Solomon Grundy, is more like a Caribbean minotaur made deadly flesh and he gives Franck, the speedster an all too literal run for his money!

Towards the massive finale there is a point where the heroes finally confront their “counterparts,” not doppelgangers, but ‘evil‘ versions of their powers – this, for me, is part of where there is room for more… What were the villains’ reasons for taking their abilities and use them in a negative way? I feel a Prequel can look at this angle? At another point, part of the trio use a private eye who, while familiar to Canada, is equally at home battling Caribbean demonology… A Bajan version of Blade? Lay on, MacDuff? (You have to read the book for why I say so!)

In the midst of the villains, heroes and cosmic forays in a Caribbean genre, you get to learn and view and feel Barbados not as a visitor but as a resident and one who has deep family ties here. To love it while you’re annoyed at it, and its people… Expecting better, yet hoping more will be accomplished, and if a little push is needed? H’mm – now, where do I know another person like that? 😉

Seriously, Robert is part of the next generation of Barbadian authors who need better scope in order to flourish, respect Barbados and its culture by going to Pages and Cloister and demanding this crucial book. When one observes how the Cultural Stakeholders Bill recently passed in Parliament, it seemed more to cater for Soca performers, rather than writers and visual artists despite a Stakeholders meeting and Amendments proposed to balance initial Government concepts.

We asked Robert what can Barbadians do to honour and respect Cultural entrepreneurs like himself, we also examined his literature which is an indirect homage to folks like D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller & Anaïs Nin

Imagine, being a hero by reviving Barbadian literacy via purchasing Erotica or Heroic Contemporary Fantasy? Don’t look for a phonebooth, just make a change in your daily habits and go to your nearest bookstore or online retailer and order “And Sometimes They Fly” from DC books, no – not the comic publishers… These are Canadian printers, if Bajans would support more local books then Robert and others could afford to print locally, especially if the Cultural Stakeholders Bill provided adequate incentives for both writers and publishers, such as duty free options on inputs like ink, paper and design?

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