Challenging. Hilarious. Powerful.
This is quite possibly the strangest book I will ever read. And one that I just can’t stop thinking about.
Our story is a journal of sorts, written by an unnamed man, who we “know” to be about forty years old. (But therein lies the rub – we will find that we don’t really “know” anything at all, as this book progresses…)
Our hero is one of the most alienated, desperate, and self-loathing creatures you will ever meet in the pages of a novel. Trapped in the prison of his own mind, he finds escape through wild imaginings, (aided by various intoxicants, mostly cannabis) and his trusty journal, in which he records his visions, including a strange ritual he must perform over and over to capture and follow the Sun, which he “believes” will lead him to a state of rapture.
Time and space are fluid in this world, and it’s impossible to separate reality from dreaming, from intoxication, from history, from wanting. (And is that so different, after all, from how we experience our own “worlds”?)
In a strange sort of reverse somaticism, all of his thoughts, his emotions, project outward into his environment, (through what he calls his “porous” psyche ) – so what he ends up seeing, experiencing and recording cannot be trusted at all. He is acting out his desperation, – his isolation, longing, and his fears – and at the same time, laying down a subconscious breadcrumbs trail of sorts to allow his innermost fractured self a glimmer of a path to hope, or release.
So he imagines himself (and dreams at night of ) his life as a prophet, a great man, a man who transcends time and space, as a divine and spiritual seeker of an old “lost city” that is the key to divinity.
Some of the most heart-rending sequences in this strange tale concern our hero, (cause “hero” he really is) and his recurring visualization of an invisible radius surrounding himself, a sphere or bubble, that grows or shrinks, representing his ability (or lack thereof, in the moment) to connect with others.
Deep inside, no matter how bizarre or convoluted his projections become, this is one ball of hurt, doing the best he can with his crazy, creative, intelligent and fractured mind to find rescue and release from his innate “wretchedness” – proof of his own existence, and at the same time, a chance to be “born again”.
This is not an easy read. Jam-packed with historical and literary references, philosophical musings, grandiose yearnings, – it is brilliant and beautiful in parts, laugh-out-loud funny throughout, and totally incomprehensible in others.
(Perhaps, a perfect reflection, after all, of each of our own convoluted inner paths to paradise?)
A great big thank you to the author for a review copy of this un-put-down-able book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts presented are my own.