Monday, May 3, 2010

The Sheltering Sky prt. 1- Out-running the Void

A littel under halfway through. So far this is the best book on the list. Which makes sense why its higher than the other ones, doesn't it?

Regardless, I am loving the hell out of it. Three American tourists traveling through Africa, with the (as far as I can tell) the sole purpose of two of them (Port and Kit, a decidedly apathetic married couple) being to outrun an ever present existential crisis. The whole thing melds together perfectly- Kit acts and longs for a renewed love between Port and herself despite a growing knowledge that nothing will ever come of it, and Port looks only to get back any sense of feeling he once had. The third American (Tunner) is desperately in love with Kit, which would provide her with an easy way to feel wanted, but she avoids it because, I'm assuming, it would mean an end was insight, instead of an eternal chace.

Metaphorically, the book hangs perfectly, setting up a two sets of tryptichs that mirror what happens with the characters. The first is between the new cultures they face and the old ones, with a pair of English travelers following/harrasing them at every turn and the ever present natives. The other is between them, overhanging cloud, and the sky, witht eh clouds representing their ever present and highly tedious activity and the sky representing the existential void they try to outrun. To do this, they put themselves in incresingly menial and tedious tasks and a constant shift of scenery, allowing them to avoid the inevitable moment where they have to actually face the oncoming crisis. All of this is set in the Sahara, which is the prefect place for an existential crisis to rear its head, no?

The whole thing is gorgeous- an excellent dichotomy between the large picture (the cultures that surround them) and the small one (their small squabbles). The moment something important happens in this book, I'll be pissed. Books that use this theme work best when the bleak, existential ideal seeps into the actual narrative, not allowing anythign to happen because nothing important ever DOES happen (can you tell I like Beckett a little bit?). Here's hoping the rest of the book keeps up, because so far its been an incredible journey to nowhere.

No comments:

Post a Comment