The Cyclist


Nameless, nationless, and perpetually famished, the narrator of Berberian’s robustly flavorful first novel spends most of his time musing over ”a world where some make war, others omelets” — even as he prepares to deliver a bomb by bicycle to a Beirut hotel. Word and meaning often sit several chairs apart at this verbal and ideological smorgasbord, but the incantatory prose gumbo is redolent of Nabokov — and might be as sumptuous if Berberian displayed that master’s mesmeric control. A sensual terrorist? It sounds improbable, given what we think we know of the ascetic-extremist mentality. Yet this man’s tastes are catholic: An experiential gourmand, he dines on hate and love in equal measure. ”The road to terrorism usually begins with a pinch of alienation; a dab of ennui,” he notes. ”My advice to those who want to avoid this condition is to increase their intake of honey.”

The Cyclist
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