Abyssinia by Damian Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Esoteric, by its very definition, dictates that only those "in the know" are "in the know". Consider Abyssinia an esoteric work on two levels: 1) It is a work about the esoteric and 2) until you read it, you cannot know it's depth, meaningfulness, and beauty. I cannot relate it to you. I don't have the words.
Still, I must venture an attempt. "Sublime" is the first word to come to mind, and in the Kantian philosophical sense of something so immense and grandiose as to be beyond an individual's comprehension. I cannot enumerate the feelings inside me as I read Damian Murphy's offering. Nor can I quantify "how much" I enjoyed it. It is beyond all that.
"Delightful" is not a word I use often. I suppose it's because I think of fairies and old English grandmothers using the word to describe a flower or a cup of tea. I'm using the word to describe a lightness of soul that I felt as I got to know the characters and understand their motivations.
I might have thought, had I not been so submerged in my love of the characters, that Abyssinia was about the hidden heart of the Hotel Argentum. Though The Constitution and Bylaws of the Hotel Argentum ". . . elucidated a doctrine of sedition and dissent," it was in the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the characters, particularly Petra, that I saw the laws enacted. And though I had a particularly fond place in my heart and mind for Petra - I related to her on a number of levels, but particularly on her penchant for finding the hidden and trespassing in sacred spaces - I fell in love with every character in the hotel. Petra, Dominik, Celia, Karl Reginald, the Colonel, the Apostate, his sister/wife, even the hotel manager. Their interactions are what make this book deep and beautiful. Infuse A Room with a View with mystical philosophies and a hit of absurdism, and you begin to get the idea.
But just begin.
Not until you delve in, abandoning yourself to the void, I am afraid, will you truly understand. This story, this book, this initiation, is precious. The art by Jose Gabriel Alegria Sabogal is a fitting robe for the beautiful body of this work - resplendent and shimmering, from cover to cover. It is an artifact, a totem, really, to the freedom of spirit and the spirit of freedom, carefully hidden, except to those who know not only where, but how, to find it.
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