Many years ago, an American friend of mine in Germany handed me a book and told me I had to read it. I promptly ignored him but carried around the book wherever I lived convinced I would one day make good on my promise.
I'm in this minimalist mode right now. I'm going to read all the books I possess either for the first time or one last time and then cast them unto the world via Goodwill. It was finally time to read The Sheltering Sky.
I understand why my friend wanted me to read this masterpiece by Paul Bowles; I am one of those spirits who explore the world looking for an escape from the cold, a place to be warm, like the one of the three protagonists in this novel, Port. I too have searched and been tortured by the very people who told me they loved me.
This friend of mine also used to always say,"the right book at the right time." Prophetic. How could he have known I would be newly wounded and alone when I finally came to it? An omniscient narrator tells the story of three friends, two of whom are married, who travel into Africa for new experiences. Their American sensibilities become haunting ghosts, and their own selves develop into lupus. They tumble into tragedy and madness to a point that the story almost resembles Lovecraftian tales of horror.
If you read it, read it in winter when the nights are long, and the cold is oppressive. Read it when the darkness seems interminable, and friends seems sparse.