They say that you meet interesting people on cruise ships. This modernist story proves it. The main character goes on a third class cruise. After struggling to sleep under the gentle hum of the ventilator bat, he goes up deck and meets a mysterious smoker. Under the dim light of the twinkling stars, our main character hears a gruesome tale of love and repressed desires.
The mysterious smoker was once a doctor in India. He used to be a doctor in Britain. However, his control freak lover girl caused him to loose his job. He then was forzed to take a doctor position in India. As a colonist doctor, it was his duty to treat the colonizers and to enjoy all the native ladies he desired. Eventually, he met the case that sealed his fate.
A pretty colonizer lady asked him for an abortion. Her arrogant attitude reminded him of his old girlfriend. As payment for the abortion (abortions being illegal back then), he asked her to sleep within. The moment he requested this she left. Too late did he remember his Hippocratic oath (never to use a doctor’s skill to harm others).
He becomes obsessed with the woman. Tries to offer his help, but she is too proud to accept it. Plus, she remembered his indecent offer. From then on, the story goes downhill. The doctor compares his chase after the lady to amok.
In India, they call it amok when a person runs amok, in mad rage. That person is focused on one thing only and he kills anything in sight. He only stops when he drops dead of dehydration (or when someone else kills him).
Truly, this is one novella worth reading. The vocabulary is bit above average. However, the narration flows easily. All details are purposeful. The book follows after the modernist style, a European in a far away land. It shows how crazy and derange one gets in a foreign climate. Anyway, ”Amok” deserves 5 star rating.
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