The Sheltering Sky Paperback
by Paul Bowles
Edited by Michael Hoffman
Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series
'"The Sheltering Sky" is a book about people on the edge of an alien space; somewhere where, curiously, they are never alone' - Michael Hoffman.
Port and Kit Moresbury, a sophisticated American couple, are finding it more than a little difficult to live with each other.
Endeavoring to escape this predicament, they set off for North Africa intending to travel through Algeria - uncertain of exactly where they are heading, but determined to leave the modern world behind.
The results of this casually taken decision are both tragic and compelling.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 368 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 29/01/2004
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780141187778
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Review by edgeworth
The Sheltering Sky is the story of three friends who go on an extended period of travelling through French Africa in the post-war period. Port Moresby, his wife Kit Moresby, and their friend Tunner are not particularly likeable characters (Kit and Port are both unfaithful to each other within the first few chapters), but neither are they unlikeable enough to be particularly interesting. They are also prone to periods of intense introspection, and thought patterns extensively explained via metaphor. This is unappealing enough to me already without Bowles' habit of zealously rationing his paragraph breaks to about one per page. In any case, the overall story is one of travel without appropriately assessing the dangers of the region; arrogant Americans blundering off into the desert without a second thought and badly hurting themselves as a result. The final fifty pages of the book were somewhat more interesting than the rest, since they deal with imprisonment, a favoured theme of mine - alas, not interesting enough to salvage the other two hundred pages of meandering philosophical passages.I always feel frustrated whenever I read a classic of literature and fail to enjoy it. Am I somehow missing something? Am I not intelligent enough to appreciate it? Should I skulk off back to my Playstation and Doritos like the wretched product of the public school system that I am?...no. No, it's the literary critics who are wrong.