An ailing young American novelist, Clifford, retreats to a small villa on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus to finish his last novel in peace and seclusion before he dies. There he meets a man, Erol, at the Tree of Idleness cafe in the Bellapais mountain village square, who struggles with Clifford to help him live fully before he dies.
I Met A Man by Shabbu is a short novella by the writing collaboration of authors habu and Sabb that tells the story of a man and the love he comes to find in his last months of life
Clifford is an American novelist who is ill and has come to terms with the inevitability of his death. He has chosen to spend his final months writing his last novel at the villa where British novelist Lawrence Durrell once lived and wrote which is located on a mountainside in the upper reaches of the ancient abbey village of Bellapais in northern Cyprus.
Erol is a breathtaking young Turk who, along with his band of close friends Nazim, Tabib and Basir, earns his keep any way he can, but it is at night that he and his friends make the bulk of their money by servicing the tourists, both men and women, that are visiting Bellapais.
Erol is sent to Clifford by Layla Egrun, the landlady of the villa, to serve as his companion and to cook and keep house for him while he writes. Despite their first encounter, which is filled with wildness and passion and fulfills Clifford’s fantasies, he doesn’t want Erol to live with him in the villa. He needs peace and seclusion to write and Erol is an ongoing distraction.
I Met A Man is a beautifully written bittersweet story that captures the essence of the relationship between Clifford and Erol in some seventy pages all the while seamlessly inter-weaving plot and sub-plots, primary and secondary characters and their stories, feelings and relationships. The story is masterfully told from multiple points of view, that of Clifford, Erol and Rick (Clifford’s good friend), with such fluidity that the transition from one character’s perspective to another is virtually imperceptible.
There is a rhythm and flow to this story that immensely appealed to me. The story is refined and quiet in its feel, yet the writing provokes colorful and vivid images and creates a rich sensory experience – sight, taste, touch, smell and sound. I completely lost myself in this story.
What I loved most of all is the journey that the authors take us on in their exploration of the evolution of Clifford and Erol’s relationship. Given the premise of the story the authors leave no room for superfluous matters and get to the heart of things as the relationship takes on a magical “seize the moment” quality despite the sadness of the inevitable. Clifford is at first reticent about becoming involved with Erol, but Erol convinces him to live in the moment and in the end, Erol himself is forever changed because he met a man and his name was Cliff.
I Met A Man is my first story by Shabbu and it was a thoroughly wonderful reading experience for me. I look forward to reading more from the writing collaboration of habu and Sabb. I strongly recommend this novella, even for those who exclusively seek “happily ever after” endings because despite the sadness of the story premise, it is superbly written and in the end there is a smile through the tears.
I Met A Man by Shabbu is available at the Amazon Kindle Store.
NOTE: This review was originally published online by Rainbow Reviews.