Michael Ahearn, a professor at a rural college, sheds his comfortable assumptions when he becomes obsessed with a new faculty member from the Carribean, Lara Purcell. An expert in Third World politics, Lara is seductive, dangerous, and in thrall, she claims, to a vodoun spirit who has possession of her soul.
Impassioned and determined, Michael pursues Lara to her native island of St. Trinity, heedless of the political upheaval there. Together they desperately attempt to reclaim all that Lara has lost. Yet island intrigue ensnares them. Lara sacrifices herself to ritual and superstition. Michael is caught unawares in a high-stakes smuggling scheme. In his feverish state of mind, the world becomes an ever-shifting phantasmagoria. He is, himself, possessed.
Here are the trademarks of Stone's greatest fiction: the American embroiled in Third World corruption, the diplomats and convert operatives, the journalists, idealists, and opportunists. Yet in Bay of Souls, the author's sights are set inward, to a place where politics is superfluous, experience unreliable. Never before has Stone probed so intensely the psychological depths of one man's mind. What he finds there defies expectations.
©2003 Robert Stone; (P)2003 Houghton Mifflin Company
"A tight, brilliantly observed tale of one man's moral dissolution....A novel of bold prose and subtle perceptions, a small, hard gem from a master writer." (Publishers Weekly)
"As Michael struggles with his obsession, narrator Arliss Howard captures his moral and emotional dilemma, creating an intensity bordering on delirium....Stone's beautifully crafted look into an ordinary man's soul pits the intellectual against the spiritual against the erotic, and the listener wins." (AudioFile)
This is a very good book, adeptly read. It does take a fairly jarring turn about 3/4 of the way through, which may have turned off some of the reviewers.
There are several memorable scenes here that will stay with you long after you finish this, which makes it well worth the read.
I was entirely put off by the content of this book, as well as by the boring reading. None of the characters were at all sympathetic; they were doing disgusting things, and I could only wish all of them the worst of luck. It was a total waste of time and money.
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