I sat down and wept
By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo CoelhoFrom Paulo Coelho, author of the bestselling The Alchemist, comes a poignant, richly poetic story that reflects the depth of love and life.
Rarely does adolescent love reach its full potential, but what happens when two young lovers reunite after eleven years? Time has transformed Pilar into a strong and independent woman, while her devoted childhood friend has grown into a handsome and charismatic spiritual leader. She has learned well how to bury her feelings... and he has turned to religion as a refuge from his raging inner conflicts.
Now they are together once again, embarking on a journey fraught with difficulties, as long-buried demons of blame and resentment resurface after more than a decade. But in a small village in the French Pyrenees, by the waters of the River Piedra, a most special relationship will be reexamined in the dazzling light of some of life’s biggest questions.
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
In choosing a book that has shaped and changed my life, I have dithered between classics, none of them contemporary and all of them novels. For me the significant book will always be a novel, although I do have a soft spot for The SAS Survival Guide, and particularly the section on camp craft. But people and their story, whether epic as in War and Peace or up close like Mrs Dalloway, are what grabs me. The characters and their stories have stayed to walk through life with me. I first read this extraordinary prose poem when I was 19, doubly curious about the book for its delicious title and because it was written by my father's ex-wife. It was like drowning in an extraordinary dream - I could not believe that grown ups could love with such abandon. The novel has scarcely any plot, it concerns a triangle between the narrator and a married couple, but the events and actions are peripheral.
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None of the main characters are ever named. She foresees the despair their love will cause his wife. The bed is cold and jealousy is cruel as the grave. She finds everything charged with operatic grandeur. In the s, Elizabeth Smart, a diffident, talented, and young writer from a prominent Canadian family, came across a book by poet George Barker in a London shop.
I t was in a bookshop that Elizabeth Smart first fell in love with George Barker. Thousands of miles away, Barker was teaching at a university in Japan at the time, but that day in Better Books, on London's Charing Cross Road, Smart came across his poem Daedalus and was instantly smitten. Although they had yet to meet, although he was still only words on a page, she declared him the love of her life. What followed was by any standards an extraordinary relationship, a mingling of love and infatuationplayed out across continents, carrying the pair from California to London, from rural Ireland to Essex, taking in breakups, reunions, poverty and the glorious mayhem of the Soho scene along the way. It was also a relationship that Smart would document in her work By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept — a novel that straddled poetry and prose and garnered a cult following. But, for all its furious romance, it was also a relationship that has confused many, riddled as it was with rows, alcoholism, absences and affairs. They would knock lumps out of each other, he usually flouncing off in a huff to return later in gracious manner, and the cycle would begin again.
Brigid Brophy described it as "one of the half-dozen masterpieces of poetic prose in the world". Smart discovered Barker's poetry in the late s in a book store in London, and began writing the story several years before she had even met and started a relationship with Barker. The affair lasted 18 years, and Smart bore four of his 15 children. In the novel, the multiple pregnancies are reduced to one, other details of the affair are omitted entirely, and the narrator's lover is barely described, as she focuses on her own experience and feelings, which was rare for the male-centric literature of that day. In , after becoming pregnant, Smart returned to Canada, settling in Pender Harbour , British Columbia to have their first child, Georgina, while continuing to write the book. Barker attempted to visit her, but Smart's family ensured that he was turned back at the border for " moral turpitude.