TLC Book Tour: Tobacco Wars

Tobacco Wars 


Paul Seesequasis

Synopsis:   "Set in the early 17th century, Tobacco Wars follows the mythical and rollicking adventures of Pocahontas and playwright Ben Jonson, from the inns, alleyways and royal courts of London to pirates, perilous crossings and hostile warriors in the New World. And as worlds are turned upside down and irrevocably altered, a new commodity, tobacco, intoxicates the Old World just as an “Indian princess” undertakes her own age of exploration."

The synopsis makes it sound interesting does it not?  The back of the book gives a slightly difference synopsis of the story which explains the book a bit better and if it had been available, I probably wouldn't have chosen to read the story.

"Laced with humor, eroticism, theatre and the 'wild' of the Americas, Tobacco Wars turns history as taught upside down, while it celebrates the perseverance of 'tricksterism' in contemporary Native American literature.  A consummate stylist, Paul Seesequasis succeeds in juxtaposing the potency of Native American mythology with an early 17th Century adventure involving Pocahontas and playwright Ben Johnson, interweaving in this seeming 'fairy-tale' romance the outrageous grandeur of the mythical Bear Woman and her cohorts.  Tobacco Wars is a provocative and essential addition to the syllabi of Native American studies."

I tried 3 times to read this short novella and never could finish it.  Invoked the 50 page rule for once.   I have no problem reading all sorts of mystery and thriller stories with chilling murders, yet couldn't finish this one because honestly, I found Bear Woman vulgar and the treatment of Pocahontas.... Well I just didn't get it. 

For example - the beginning of the story: 

"Bear Woman spits, her phlegm-addled missile sends an uproarious orange iridescent flame ball high in the night sky.  She scratches her thick, hairy thighs with her pointed claws, sending fleas and ticks scurrying topsy-turvy, for cover, and with a deep breath, she raises one cheek from the log and lets loose a bellowing fart, that resounds through the darkened Cornwall woods, sending great horned-ears flapping towards the stars with the chorus of echoing hoots.  Bear Woman yawns, her gaping jaw and yellow fangs glinting off the fire, then pokes the flames with her cane.  And waits for the boy.  The boy whom nightly she pulls down between her thighs, so that he can lap at the honey hive of creative, her juices of inspiration, her slit of inspiring superstitions."

Yes, I know...sorry.   I thought I'd try skipping her parts of the the story, but you really can't because it draws you like a candle to the flame. Her parts are quite.....colorful.

And poor Pocahontas treated like royalty:

"The smells of urine, sweat, horse s**t, rotting vegetables and meats and perfumes collide in a heady mix that for the moment overwhelms her. She teeters, and Burke, who has been extraordinarily attentive since they were introduced, notices and holds her steady. He inquires if she is alright and she nods, holding the perfumed kerchief to her face as she adjusts and regains her balance. What astounding sights and sounds she has witnessed in this strange city in only a few days. After a moment she recovers her composure but the smells still shock and rattle her; reminding her she is a stranger in a strange land. "Come, my lady,and meet some bunters, midnight mothers..." Jonson begins, and then is overtaken by Burke and Hickey who join him in a chorous. "Blowzabellas, smuts, doxies, bun butters, short, our whores; and here you will find them all ages, sexes, sizes and inclinations." (pg36)

The writing is quite descriptive, but I just couldn't tell where he was going with the story.  Unfortunately I couldn't appreciate the poetry of the story.   Check out what other folks on the tour have to stay about it.  

Thank you to TLC Book tours for giving me the opportunity to read the book.


  1. Hi Robin,
    I'm stopping by via ROW80. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my page. I believe you stopped before, but I was going to another blog page..?
    I saw the ROW icon here, so I'm guessing I'm where I should be now! Ha!
    I haven't heard of the book you have featured, and from the excerpts....I'm feeling happy about that. 'Colorful parts'...too funny.
    I suppose one must be adventurous when reading!
    Glad to meet you, and I look forward to stopping by again.
    Take care, ~ Nadja

  2. Okaaaaay. Hummm. I doubt I could have gotten much past 50 pages either.

  3. Hi Robin,

    check out my interview with the author. I specifically asked him about the great difference between the stories in the book:

  4. Oh no, this one would not be for me. Another reviewer who I trust called sections of this book "bear porn" and based on the passages that you quoted, I can't say I disagree with that assessment. I don't have a problem with a bit of crassness, but when it turns vulgar, I'd rather not get involved. Thanks for sharing these quotes and your honest opinion of the book. They illustrate things much more effectively than any warning could ever hope to do!

  5. @Nadja - this is the place. I just didn't do a midweek checkin.

    @Beth - didn't think so.

    @manoflabook - interesting interview.

    @Zibilee - That's why I provided excerpts so folks can judge for themselves.

  6. Oh my! That sounds like a book I'd drop right after the first paragraph. Um, are the spelling and grammatical errors in the original too? They'd drive me crazy! Tood bad, cos the blurb *does* make the story sound interesting!

  7. @Deniz - yes, excerpt is as is.


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