Leeward & Windward
by Guido Mina di Sospiro
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   A work of literary fiction. The narrative, set in present-day America, hinges upon two quests. The quest for gold, in the guise of buried treasure of Caribbean piratical lore. And, the search for one’s identity. Respectively, they are carried out by Christopher, a perpetually luckless, hunchbacked but nevertheless charming Irish treasure hunter transplanted in the States; and by Marisol, a cerebral young woman—a brilliant philosophy graduate—born in Cuba on the eve of Castro’s revolution, but raised in New York by adoptive parents. An ancient treasure map is discovered, and eventually deciphered. However, the decipherment yields a riddle whose solution eludes even the best cryptologists, i.e., “Buried underneath one amongst the foreign plants the conquistadors brought for Christ’s taste and distaste.” The map alludes to a treasure consisting of sixteen Spanish galleons crammed to bursting with noble metals. An unscrupulous Colombian drug lord is being investigated by the US government, and needs to be able to account for his illicit wealth. The treasure’s gold would be a solution. Therefore, he irrevocably forces Christopher and Marisol to find it on his behalf. The two—at first quite a mismatch, Marisol being an incarnation of rationality, Chris of irrationality—board a sailing yacht and embark on the treasure-hunting expedition, knowing only that such a treasure is allegedly buried on the Negrillos Islands, in the Gulf of Mexico. Such islands, however, have been reported by cartographers up to 1867. Afterwards, they have mysteriously vanished from the face of the earth. This is the unexpected outcome of my meticulous research, a fact substantiated by cartographic evidence. Their voyage across the sea results in an ending hinged on an entirely unexpected transformation. That which happens goes well beyond the characters’ imagination, including a “legitimately conjecturable divine intervention”.

    There are magical, indeed actual alchemical overtones to the novel. For example, the treasure’s gold becomes that which alchemists used to refer to as aurum non vulgi, sed philosophorum (the gold not of the people, but of the philosophers). The finale consists of several utterly unanticipated dénouements, all disemboguing—pyrotechnically and yet organically—into one another. What used to be a mystery, becomes Mystery, of which the two protagonists partake fully and irreversibly.