The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor

John Barth, Author Little Brown and Company $22.95 (573p) ISBN 978-0-316-08251-8
Just when you may have concluded, like Queen Scheherazade's husband, that you've ``heard them all,'' Barth ( The Tidewater Tales ) proves again how original and entertaining he is. Like many of the author's previous works, his latest blends fantasy, mythology, existentialist wit, bawdy humor and metafictional conceits. But though his opening words declare, ``The machinery's rusty,'' the new novel is a testament both to Barth's undiminished generative powers and to his maturity of vision. In the elaborate plot, a ``fifty-plus,'' ``once-sort-of-famous'' New Journalist named Simon William Behler is mysteriously transported to the medieval Baghdad of Sindbad the Sailor. Behler--known variously as ``Somebody the Sailor,'' ``Baylor'' and ``Sayyid Bey el-Loor,'' falls in love with Sindbad's daughter Yasmin and gets enmeshed in Arabian intrigues. The intrigues revolve around such nagging questions as the intactness of Yasmin's virginity, the veracity of Sindbad's tall tales and the whereabouts of a wristwatch Behler needs in order to return home. All this is dealt with in the course of six evenings of storytelling at Sindbad's dinner table. Barth creates whole and engaging characters with his usual wealth of wordplay, allusion and satire. But the novel's greatest achievement is how it connects the conventionally realistic story of Behler's 20th-century life with the outsize and metaphorical world of Sindbad, reflecting in the process on the nature of stories, dreams, voyages and death. BOMC selection; major ad/promo; author tour . (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.