Sunday, May 27, 2007

 

Damascus Gate by Robert Stone

Friday, March 30, 2007

"On the cusp of the millenium, Jerusalem has become a battleground in the race for redemption. American journalist, Christopher Lucas, is investigating religious fanatics when he discovers a plot to bomb the sacred Temple Mount. A violent confrontation in the Gaza strip, a race through the riot-filled streets, a cat-and-mouse fame in an underground maze--as Lucas follows his leads, he uncovers an attempt to seize political advantage that reveals duplicity and depravity on all sides of Jerusalem's sacred struggle." Taken from the back cover
**The above description has a few things right. Chris Lucas is a journalist, there are fanatics and there is a bomb plot. There is even violence, although in this book, it's not very compelling or even interesting. And Lucas is just a scared, vaguely inept, religiously confused man who falls for the wrong woman. (Actually, Sonia is a pretty good woman, but she sure gets him involved in a mess.) I certainly didn't get the impression that he is the hero of this story. There is no hero. The maze is a very apt symbol for this novel. I felt I was in a maze while reading it. I was lost most of the time. There are so many conflicted characters, twists and turns, convoluted happenings, religious and political posturing; I was three-quarters through before I started to see a pattern. I just wasn't moved by the characters or anything that happened in the book. And Stone uses some pretty obscure words that I couldn't work out in context. When I couldn't find hesychastic in my dictionary, I was bummed. Do you know what it means? This quote from the ending sort of sums up the whole novel:" 'Losing it is as good as having it.''It meant, he thought, that a thing is never truly, perceived, appreciated or defined except in longing. A land in exile, a God in His absconding, a love in its loss. And that everyone loses everything in the end. But that certain things of their nature cannot be taken away while life lasts. Some things can never be lost utterly that were loved in a certain way.' "I read some of good reviews about Damascus Gate, but I just didn't get it. This book has been on the shelves for a few years now. I'll never read it again, but I'm glad to mark it off two lists.
Rating: 2
Posted by Framed at 8:07 PM

3 comments:
Alyson said...
Well, I'm glad to read a review I don't need to add to my TBR. It's too bad this wasn't a more enjoyable book for your sake. A Hesychast is one of a sect of mystics that originated in the 14th century among the monks of Athos, Greece. Hesychastic is an adjective meaning to be quiet or still. Don't I sound smart? Too bad I just looked it up on dictionary.com.
9:10 AM
Framed said...
Thanks, Alyson. I admit my dictionary is old but I am loyal to it.
5:08 PM
Bookfool said...
I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one, but wow - 5 chunksters! That's fantastic!!
8:56 PM

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