A mesmerizing novel of deception and betrayal from the acclaimed author of Wartime Lies and About Schmidt .
John North, a prize-winning American writer, is suddenly beset by dark suspicions about the real value of his work. Over endless hours and bottles of whiskey consumed in a mysterious café called L’Entre Deux Mondes, he recounts, in counterpoint to his doubts, the one story he has never told before, perhaps the only important one he will ever tell. North’s chosen interlocutor–who could be his doppelgänger–is transfixed by the revelations and becomes the narrator of North’s tale.
North has always been faithful to his wife, Lydia, but when one of his novels achieves a special success, he allows himself a dalliance with Léa, a starstruck young journalist. Coolly planning to make sure that his life with Lydia will not be disturbed, North is taken off guard when Léa becomes obsessed with him and he with her elaborate erotic games. As the hypnotic and serpentine confession unfurls, we gradually discover the extraordinary lengths to which North has gone to indulge a powerful desire for self-destruction.
Shipwreck is a daring parable of the contradictory impulses that can rend a single soul–narcissism and self-loathing, refinement and lust.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Shipwreck|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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I was smoking a cigarette at the bar, an empty glass before me, wondering whether I should have another or leave, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. A rather deep, pleasant voice said, Let me treat you to a whiskey. I don't like drinking alone. I bet you don't either.
There was no reason to refuse. It wasn't as though I were expected elsewhere. I nodded and followed him to a table. Seeing a waiter lounge unoccupied within hailing distance, he ordered a bottle of whiskey, ice, and soda water. We were served with surly efficiency. With a sigh of what I took to be satisfaction, he crossed and recrossed the ankles of the long, thin legs stretched out before him, and looked about. I too once more took in the flickering lights, the grouping of shadows at other tables, and the murmur of voices. After a moment, he broke the silence: I should introduce myself. North. I am John North.
I bowed slightly and reciprocated the politeness.
Abruptly, he spoke again, this man so like me in appearance and demeanor, from the crown of his neatly barbered head to the tips of his brogues, well worn but beautifully polished.
Listen, he said. Listen. I will tell you a story I have never told before. If you hear me out, you will see why. I would have been a fool to tell it. With you, somehow I feel secure. Call it instinct or impulse or fate-your choice. Besides, could it possibly matter what I say to you over a pleasant drink here, at L'Entre Deux Mondes?
Something in what he had said or had failed to say must have amused him hugely. He laughed to the point of tears. It was a moment before he got hold of himself and was able to continue. Is not this benighted place the perfec