Ever since I read The Alexandria Quartet, I embarked on a journey that through the years, would bring me closer and closer to Egypt, inspired initially by the fabled ancient city of Alexandria.
The first time I opened one of the books was January 2000. i was in Cabo Polonio, Uruguay and that summer was indeed, one to remember. I was hanging out with a group of friends on the beach, and amongst them was the argentine writer and cinematographer, Pedro Loeb. The book practically called me from his beach towel. ‘Clea’. I just had to walk over and ask him to borrow it. The moment I held that book in my hands for the first time, was a moment I’ll never forget. I have the habit of opening a book on random pages, and I happened to pick the pages near the end.
Time stood still and I went into what I can only describe as a trance-like state. Clea is actually the last book of the four, and I happened to open it during one of the most beautiful and harrowing parts.
Clea and her friends Darcy and Balthazar are sunbathing on a tiny beach created by a rock promontory they happened upon while sailing. They nap after enjoying a simple lunch of bread, oranges, and wine and when Clea wakes up in a fateful moment groggily takes a plunge into the crystal clear waters of the pool. A skilled swimmer, she reaches the depths and then things unfold in an unbelievable cascade of events that completely alters their lives, but also sets the tone for the books incredibly beautiful ending.
Nothing could prepare me for the feeling and emotion I experienced while reading those pages, the author’s vivid description of events, a dream like state only he could induce. Like a magician layering words with a wand. Raising them to their highest form. Impregnating each one with what I can only call spirit, and at last guiding them to fall in utter harmony upon a page in a master symphony. Some books have a certain tone, they inspire a recognition, an inner knowing, a deja vu so intense you could hold it for more than a moment.
How can one define it? It touches the heart and – zap! changes you forever. In my case. setting me on a quest of sorts. I won’t go into details that would require pages of explanations. I’ll leave it up to the reader to visit that tremendous collection of books.