Full disclosure: There is no way I can give this book a fair review. Harry and I have written a book together called "ReejecttIIon -- A Number 2."
As advertised in the title of the book, you will meet hustlers, you will experience hassles, and hash will make up a great part of your journey. Whether true purification is reached in the course of this journey is another question. I tend to think of true purification as something rather elusive. For Harry, though, the course to purification should have exotic locales, check marks next to items on one's F***it list, and experiences with the devil in its/his/her many shapes and forms. Is this true purification? From experience, I can tell you that travels and writing are only part of the process of purification...
The C.S. Lewis quote at the beginning of the book makes the personal challenge a little more clear: Harry must avoid the twin pitfalls of becoming a base materialist (with no belief in the magic of the world) or a unskeptical magician (who becomes too enamored with the devil). This is what Harry thinks his challenge is. Maybe he's right. But there are others. He still has to charm the reviewers. He still has to learn that being an indie writer and being an Egyptian merchant are similar occupations. ("You buy this book, yes? It will make you attractive to the ladies!")
Harry / you must also avoid the pitfall of becoming absorbed in oneself and becoming one with the pain of heartbreak. For a travel book about Egypt, there are large stretches of time where the book is about Harry and his overwhelming pain. Egypt is the the thing that pulls Harry out of himself but also forces Harry back into himself. In a world of hustlers and hassles, why expose oneself to the world -- where hassles and hustles are smaller versions of the intense pain of heartbreak?
The minor heartbreaks of hustlers and hassles make up a great deal of the events of the book. However, so do moments of joy and respite. The book is about one person's life in a certain place and time, and these events are simply and beautifully told.
There are, however, bigger villains in the book. These villains are some of the most captivating elements of the book.
One of these villains is the "Great Father." A hustler whose clutches Harry happens to fall into early in the book when he decides to have coffee with a local hustler named Abdullah. Abdullah takes Harry from one place to another until finally Abdullah delivers him into the perfume shop of the "Great Father" -- a place that for Harry embodies evil.
Something is wrong. Very wrong. The mood has suddenly become dark. Much too dark for a book review. The reviewer suddenly isn't his co-writer friend that he thought he knew so well but instead a great bear of a man, with a designer T-shirt, trendy jeans and Reebok trainers. Casual. Cool. But also a hustler with dark eyes that try to swallow him up and turn himself inward. Into his own loathing and fear...Somehow, Harry finds himself back in the perfume shop of the Great Father.
"Harry," the Great Father says. "We meet again. Last time, you left so quickly. It is destiny that you have found me here in this book review. You have experienced a great tragedy in your life, yes?"
Harry looks at the Great Father skeptically, looks him straight in his devil-black eyes. Everyone has had a personal tragedy. He is just fishing. Why is he here again? How did he get into this book review?
YOU ARE READING
Pure Writerly Moments (The Best of Goodreads Blog Posts, 2008 - 2018)Short Story
Some moments just have to be written. Sometimes, a simple story, essay, or journal entry becomes more. What are these moments? They are pure. They are essential. They are writerly. This is a collection of short blog posts on Goodreads...