The City of Your Final Destination by Peter Cameron

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The City of Your Final Destination

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Omar Razaghi, a doctoral student at the University of Kansas, receives a fellowship to write a biography of Latin American novelist Jules Gund. When the Gund estate denies permission, Omar is nagged by Deirdre, his girlfriend, into going to Paraguay to try to change the minds of the executors: Adam, Gund’s brother; Caroline, his wife; and Arden Langdon, his mistress and the mother of Gund’s only child.

Arriving unannounced at the isolated Gund residence in a remote region of Paraguay, Omar stumbles into an otherworldly situation as exotic as the surrounding countryside. Adam lives in a cottage near the main house with Pete, a native of Thailand whom he rescued from a life as a male prostitute in Germany. Adam cannot live without his much younger lover but plots for Pete to break free. Caroline and Arden live together almost as sisters, but their lives are even more unfulfilled than Pete’s. All discover truths about themselves, including Omar’s realization that he is tired of the academic life. All, including Omar, a native of Iran who grew up in Canada, are emotional refugees longing to belong somewhere.

Peter Cameron’s novel, his fourth, is made up of two-thirds dialogue and one-third short declarative sentences, resembling a less self-conscious version of Ernest Hemingway’s style. One of Hemingway’s suggestions for other writers was that what is left out is as important as what is kept in. Cameron illustrates this point quite effectively by revealing just enough about his characters. He never says what is so fascinating about Gund’s one novel or why Gund committed suicide.

The City of Your Final Destination begins as if it is going to be yet another academic novel full of allusions and games-playing, but it turns out to be much more: a charming, moving account about how people are engaged in endless voyages of self-discovery.

Sources for Further Study

Gay & Lesbian Review 9 (July/August, 2002): 45.

Kirkus Reviews 70 (February 15, 2002): 204.

Library Journal 127 (February 1, 2002): 129.

The New York Times, May 15, 2002, p. E8.

The New York Times Book Review 107 (May 19, 2002): 14.

Publishers Weekly 249 (February 11, 2002): 158.

The Times Literary Supplement, May 3, 2002, p. 21.