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A Life Full of Holes: A Novel Recorded and Translated by Paul Bowles Paperback – December 16, 2008
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More interesting is the subsequent story of Larbi Layachi - in his eventual emigration to the US where I met him in the early 70's as a cook in San Francisco. That story - his true biography - linked to the stories he was able to compose - would give us a far more insightful 'view' of the dusty streets of the world Larbi knew in the land of his birth.
Sadly, that story is hidden now, but it would have been a worthy one to hear. I wish Paul Bowles had told that story, too.
Whereas the typical westerner might have difficulty supporting Layachi's dogged fatalism in the face of constant defeat, failure, frustration and setbacks, the majority of which do seem to be of an unjust nature (despite Layachi's at times pathological tendency to blur the parameters of right and wrong), it's Layachi's very determination to go on no matter what that gives A Life Full of Holes its extremely positive and life-confirming slant. To survive such an uncompromisingly negative chain of events without becoming a burned-out, apathetic nihilist is a true test of faith. And while the Koran is frequently cited to explain or justify particularly heavy blows of fate or irrational human behavior ("It's the will of Allah," etc.), it's also Layachi's ironic and cynical sense of humor that serves as a buffer between himself and life's harder edges and as a comic foil against the perpetrators of ill will. Compellingly told and packed with detail, Layachi's story of survival is also one of simple poetry.