Sleeping Between the Rails by Carroll Devine

Sleeping Between the Rails

A Woman's Odyssey
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A memoir of a five-and-a-half year sojourn through some of the world’s more exotic, and dangerous, places.

As a recent college graduate with a sense of adventure, author Devine left New Orleans on a freighter in 1967 to meet up with her former boyfriend in Spain. It was the start of a multiyear “world odyssey” that took them through Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, which she recounts in this poignant, if sometimes heavy-going, travel memoir. “Prospects for a beautiful life hovered, but something was missing,” she writes. “To find out what that was, I had to run away from home—in this case, sail away.” Later, they experimented with LSD and, in India, pursued yoga studies at an ashram. “Meat will make a scientist, but never a philosopher,” the vegetarian swami of the Ananda Ashram told his students. Travel offered Devine “the opportunity to discover something about myself,” but her journey ran aground on the unpleasant personality of her arrogant boyfriend, who “was living in his own world where I was only occasionally welcome,” and deviates unexpectedly into a tale of horror after the couple meet a would-be guru, in Spain, whom the author says later raped her in the fitting room of a London clothing store. Readers who recollect a more innocent era of travel may be beguiled by Devine’s keenly observed descriptions of the many places she visited and the colorful characters she encountered. In Istanbul, for example, the air is described as “thick with history and art, with dreams and nightmares, secrets of ages, and monuments to failed empires,” while in New Delhi, “No particle of physical space was unoccupied by some jostling living creature, two-footed, four-footed, man or molecule-sized being, in perpetual scuffle for survival.” “I would always be a traveler, even if I never went [to] another place,” she concludes, but her book ultimately reads like a cautionary tale about the hazards of a hedonistic lifestyle.

A book full of vivid descriptions of adventures from Spain to Thailand that later descends jarringly into horror.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-692-57647-2
Page count: 276pp
Publisher: Rabbit Hole Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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