Stephen's Reviews > The Sheltering Sky

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
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's review
Jan 01, 11

Read in December, 2010

Many people have liked this book. I found it depressing.
It tells the tale of several American travelers, who are unconnected to each other, themselves, or anything else. They are on the move because they don't have any authentic core. Kit and Port are married, but it is an estranged affair. The people they meet are also estranged. Tunner, and the son and mother duo (maybe) are equally without roots.
As they grapple with what to do, they decide to go to the Sahara. Port dies. Kit is imprisoned by an Arab, and she is kept as his concubine. True, she comes to look forward to the physical relationship, but, I think this is because there is nothing else. She simply has beens swallowed by the emptiness of the Sahara, and she has no inner resources to cope.
In the last part of the book, the American consulate has found her. (She was in the dessert.) But, she is unwilling to go back to "civilized" life. She believes she will be held accountable (and, I think, for her empty life), and she escapes. The last paragraph has her sneaking a way on a trolley to "the end of the line." She has, in a sense gone mad.
The Sheltering Sky refers to the metaphor that the sky shelters people from the emptiness of it all.

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