Many actors write memoirs as they age but there’s something special about a legendary actor in his 80s who finds he has a novel in him. Academy-Award-winning actor/director Sidney Poitier has published three memoirs but he enters the fiction universe this spring with Montaro Caine, a unique story of magical realism that combines corporate intrigue, the world of high-stakes collecting, and a mystical story of two strange coins of an unknown substance each with constellation markings.
The title of the book is actually the name of its main character. Montaro Caine is a CEO of a multinational corporation but he’s also a man at sea, somnambulant through a middle age that seems full of the usual stresses and indignities until the question of the coins origin and later their current location, sweeps him off into an adventure that has him pondering the essential mysteries of life. In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Poitier explained that the novel came about as he was trying his hand at writing screenplays. The genesis of the book was inspired by a news story about a mining accident but he has had a lifelong fascination with stars, galaxies, and the universe and had a longtime friendship with astronomer Carl Sagan.
Mr. Poitier’s writing has the elegance of his speaking style, rich, resonant and slightly formal. While he concocts a story of global intrigue that starts off with a mystery, the narrative never really gels strongly and the corporate subterfuge subplot seems like an afterthought. The plot wraps up too quickly and the oversimplified and rushed ending leaves a bit too many unanswered questions. Still, there’s magic here and the ideals of honor, family, and the interconnectedness of us all shine through.