4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Cleopatra's Wedding Present is an account of the solitary wandering of a Briton through the back roads and alleyways of Syria. What draws this urbane, openly gay man to a country like Syria is a question that draws the reader immediately into the book. Fittingly, Moss begins his book not in Damascus, but in culturally and geographically isolated northern city of Aleppo. He makes his way through a maze of noisy, cluttered streets to the Baron Hotel, an establishment of fading glory, where notables such as Lawrence of Arabia and Theodore Roosevelt once stayed. In the hotel bar, he quickly meets a fellow Briton, Rupert, and becomes entangled with the comings and goings, and affections, of a few young Syrian men. Through Rupert, like himself, an outsider, a loner, and also attracted to Syrian men, Moss realizes that it is only natural for such strangers in a strange land to find in Syria a place to come to terms with one's strangeness.
Moss forays from Aleppo to other locations in Syria in chapters that begin abruptly, with Moss on the road to a new destination. In other locations, his experiences are similar in tone to that of Aleppo: A lonely man, part tourist, part journalist, and partly a man in quest of some ineffable longing, meets a few people in the new locale, and strikes up brief friendships before moving to the next destination. These vignettes of ordinary people, though, mainly young men, such as the ex-commando named Jihad, but also a variety of people, such as Gladys, the Christian florist recently repatriated from New York, are the highlights of the book. In these vignettes, Moss illustrates how everyday life in Syria is shaped by history, culture, and an oppressive political regime. Nonetheless, the characters Moss encounters are truly individual, never simple products of their environment.
Insightful, too, are the author's mediations on the longing that draws us to travel, and its counterpart heartache at leaving a place. "To travel is to always be to some extent in a state of bereavement, always to have somebody die on you a little," he writes. The fact that Moss was murdered on the day he finished the book, shortly after returning from Syria to London, is oft cited as reason to read this book. This would be a poor reason to read the book; however, his thought that "partir, c'est toujours mourir un peu," does take on added poignancy as a result of his death. To illustrate this theme of love and loss, Moss relates Rupert's doomed pursuit of Syrian boys, culminating in a letter to Rupert the Moss intercepts and steams open. He also relates the more successful, yet also more tragic, love affairs of the Victorian Mary Digby, whose final love, a sheik, brought her to Syria, where she would die. However, it is frustrating that Moss himself initiates a narrative that is personal, not only journalistic, and focused on desire, only to direct the reader's gaze away from himself. Moss speaks of the pain of parting, yet himself takes leave of all he meets in a cool and aloof fashion. The letter we wish he would open is his own, but this letter, scarce begun, remains sealed.
I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting an up close and personal look at life in Syria. From a literary aspect, Moss proves a talented writer, who intertwines elegy, elegance, and wit, in a style reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh. However, because of the disjointed narrative, and the frustration with this fascinating persona who begins his own tale several times, only to turn away from it, I found myself wanting to skim the best parts of the book and leave the rest, wondering how Moss might have rewritten it.