Returned from the beach last evening...to a mystery.
Wandered out in the dark along the country road with the Labbies to the rusty old mailbox to retrieve a few days of mail.
Once inside, with light, I discovered a small cardboard package mixed in with the letters and catalogs and paper. Addressed to me, I opened it. Inside: a slim book. One I did not order.
And don't know who did.
The book is titled The Mystery Guest by French author Gregoire Bouillier. I read a review of this book in The New York Times Book Review some Sundays ago, and was so intrigued with the story that I tore the title/author information out of the newspaper and placed it in The Vault so it would be readily available for reference the next time I visited the local Border's.
A few days later, at the bookstore, they told me, "Nope. Not in stock yet. Try again in a couple of weeks." OK. I placed the newspaper scrap back in my pocket. Then things got busy, and I didn't have the chance to check back.
Sometimes I forget I've ordered a book. But not this one. I remember wanting to purchase it locally so I could read it soon. To be sure, I checked my credit card account online. No evidence there. Hmmm. And I know I've never mentioned the book to anyone else.
It's the author's memoir of being dumped, without a word, by his girlfriend. No goodbye and good luck.
From the review by Erica Wagner:
"Years pass and he’s stuck with nothing, no explanation, only mystery and sorrow. Then the phone rings, and it’s her, calling to invite him to a party, a party for her husband’s best friend, who happens to be the artist Sophie Calle."
So Bouillier goes to the party, and brings an expensive gift: a bottle of 1964 Margaux. What he doesn't know is that it will never be opened.
Ms. Wagner also writes: "This is the theme of this work: the will to find connections, to believe in something other than random suffering."
Bouillier is hoping that, by seeing his ex, that the reason for his misery will be explained, and somehow will make sense. The reviewer writes, "the power of that kind of revelation lies entirely within ourselves."
The Zen Dudes say that one action begets another. None of us really know why things happen, but they do. And it's the small, surprising things that delight us. So, to the wonderful soul who mailed The Mystery Guest to me, I want to tell you, honestly, "thank you." It is a terrific book.
I am reading it slowly. I do not want it to end.