A LONG DESIRE by Evan S. Connell


Email this review


Colorful stories of enthusiasts who burst from their arm chairs and went on expeditions to lost civilizations or crossed dark seas of the unknown to appease their wanderlust. Connell brings it all home by identifying with the characters whose exploits he relates--beginning with the callow efforts of Richard Halli-burton, who climbed the Matterhorn, swam the Hellespont, and slept beside the Taj Mahal, but made the foolish error of disappearing aboard a Chinese junk en route from Hong Kong to the States. Connell, then 14, had paid $1.50 to have him deliver a commemorative envelope, and ""I felt I had been swindled."" In the interim, he's become something of an expert on antiquities, and he trots out his figurines for a long travelogue-without-slides which he delivers as if he's Vincent Price, all cat-smiles, precious sibilance, and spidery diction. Still, his pleasure is infectious as he knocks his own taste in childhood books, the source of his love for the exotic. And he surveys with relish the Atlantis literature, trying to place Plato's allegory in some real location (and failing); follows the Children's Crusade from its beginnings in France until the innocent adventurers are sold into slavery abroad; latches onto some wonderful Victorian ladies in Africa; and traces Paracelsus' long pilgrimage through the philosophies of the Middle Ages--until he finally strips himself of all possessions, including alchemy and philosophy. Seductive, large-scale trivia.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1979
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston