It was in one of the bookshops, or market stalls in the Village that Bob found a copy of Celine’s ‘Journey to the End of the Night’. Or, rather, the book found him.
It was to impel Bob to leave the Village and to travel to Paris – to its outskirts – to Meudon – to interview ‘Celine’ – this monstre sacre. A man he detested as much as he admired: Louis-Ferdinand Destouches M.D. – an anti-semite, who had a ‘horreur des noirs’, but who wrote the most compelling prose he had ever read.
The book’s enigmatic, existentialist title intrigued and fascinated him, and brought to an end to his desultory , free-wheeling days drifting about the Village, tracking Edward Hopper , as carefully as a collie with an errant sheep, among the vegetable stalls. Watching to see which colours he favoured – sludgy aubergine or sharp lime – the shades favoured in ‘Nighthawks’.
It was 1962, and he was now divorced from his beautiful Canadian-Korean sweetheart, and adrift from his other passion : working the boats as a sailor.
Bob soon tired of meeting fellow crypto- intellectuals like himself, wearing black, roll-necked sweaters , smoking dope, listening to Sonny Rollins, drinking French wines, and being ‘hip.
For it was his love for his favourite writers: Kafka, Gogol, Dostoevsky and Beckett that enthralled him the most. And now Celine. His writing seemed to be ‘right on target’. ‘So direct’. To quote another scion of Village life – Bob Dylan.
It was time to go to Europe.