A Smugglers Bible
In its depth of vision and omnidirectional grasp of the rhythms and textures of modern life. A Smuggler’s Bible marked the debut of one of contemporary fiction’s most compelling and original authors. Upon its first publication in 1966, it drew a chorus of critical acclaim and comparisons to William Gaddis’s The Recognitions and Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano. Used once upon a time to convey contraband, the familiar hollowed-out bible reappears transformed as a metaphor for the earnest attempt, perhaps futile, by David Brooke to project his life into the lives of those who have affected him to varying degrees of residual puzzlement, fascination, profit, frustration, and damage. These people — a reserved English bookseller in Brooklyn Heights, the bizarre tenants of a Manhattan rooming house, his mother on a day of haunting insight, a mercurial and narcissistic professor of history, and finally his own father confronting death — are the subject of David’s vaunted “projections,” the eight pseudo-autobiographical manuscripts he has written, now housed safely aboard a transatlantic liner on their way to a mysterious old man in London. David is the reader of his life, and as he broods over the stories, attempting to conjure his identity from its disjointed parts, yet another voice intercedes, a cunning interlocutor who alternately guides and thwarts his attempts to find a pattern of meaning in the profuse details of life. Book jacket.
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