Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

Genre:  Cultural (African)

Description (taken from Amazon):
When The Sheltering Sky was first published in 1949, it established Paul Bowles as one of the most singular and promising writers of the postwar generation. Its startlingly original vision has withstood the test of time and confirmed Tennessee Williams's early estimation: "The Sheltering Sky alone of the books that I have . . . read by American authors appears to bear the spiritual imprint of recent history in the western world." In this classic work of psychological terror, Bowles examines the ways in which Americans apprehend an alien culture and the ways in which their incomprehension destroys them.

The story of three worldly young travelers Port Moresby, his wife, Kit, and their friend, Tunner--adrift in the cities and deserts of North Africa after World War II, The Sheltering Sky is merciless in its evocation of the emotional dislocation induced by a foreign setting. As the Americans embark on an ill-fated journey through desolate terrain, they are pushed to the limits of human reason and intelligence by the unfathomable emptiness and impassive cruelty of the desert. Along the way, they encounter a host of enigmatic characters whose inarticulate strangeness seals the travelers off even more completely from the culture in which they are traveling, causing their fierce attachments to one another to unravel.

I honestly don't have anything good to say about this book.  When you take everything in your life for granted and look for satisfaction in the things you don't have, then you might be able to relate to the characters in this book.  Minus the part about wandering around in Africa.  It wasn't as terrifying as the description led me to believe (other than the main characters did a lot of immoral things).  I can't say I'd ever recommend this book to anyone (either books published more than fifty years ago are not meant for me or the plot's purpose was above me).

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