30 Jun 1970

Marian Engel, author of ‘Monodromos’, describes one of her weekends at a beach near Davlos


Marian Engel, author of Monodromos’, describes one of her weekends at a beach near Davlos:

There is a village nestled up against the mountain, safe from the pirates, but the hotel is the only building on the water. It is a shabby cement-block thing, kept alive by a sulphur spring where old Armenia women soak their rheumatism. It has running cold water and an electric generator that shuts off at ten. The rooms have iron twin beds, tacky varnished wardrobes and simple chairs. At dusk every night, a one handed-man throws a stick of dynamite into the sea to bring up tomorrow’s fish. The purple one with the miserable face I like to stare at underwater – the longer you stare at it the more miserable it gets – tastes like turnip.   We get up early as the sun slants across the incredible mountains, because our room faces east. The sunrise is pink and green, like a bad picture, colouring first the peaks towards Syria and Lebanon, and then the hills behind us. Then the castle above us. It is frighteningly violent, the successive slashes of colour, then the threat of the heat. It makes you want to roll back time and create more darkness, but once the temptation to open the shutters has been given into there is the thrashing hot light of day and nothing else.