Thursday, June 3, 2010

Because I am chronically early I keep a small library of books in the trunk of my car. Most of these books I have read before, like the copy of The Sheltering Sky (1948) I picked up last month at a North Vancouver thrift shop, the NDP paperback edition with the Roloff Beny cover.

The first time I read The Sheltering Sky was in October 1980. I was on a train from Port Bou to Barcelona, on the last pages of John Berger’s G (1972), when a young woman from Auckland sat down opposite. When I shut G she asked, “You done with that?” I told her I was. “Here --” she said, reaching into knapsack, “you might like this.” And so we traded.

I was ten minutes early for my dentist’s appointment when I started Chapter VI. Chapters IV and V often came to mind when I thought of The Sheltering Sky, but Chapter VI is the one I will read again and again, for it is Kit’s story (as told in the third-person by its author, Paul Bowles).

Reading Chapter VI reminded me how happy I was to have kept Two Serious Ladies (1943) from the rummage box -- and how eager I am for my next appointment.

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