Tuesday, February 01, 2005

When travelling to far-flung places, Paul Bowles is perhaps not your best choice for reading material. It's easy to become suspicious of even the generous and trustworthy Thai people or the horrendously poor Cambodians if you're spending your evenings reading short stories that feature hapless westerners faced with strange cultures that they invariably fail to understand or worse, misread so direly that it is their undoing. A father willingly seduced by his son or a French professor tricked into letting himself be captured by Bedouins who cut out his tongue and turn him into a pathetic clownlike figure, for example.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell it is not.

And yet, it can add a, um, frisson of peculiar pleasure to your beach reading.

- by Francis S.

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