A Voice Through a Cloud
by Denton Welch
264 pages, paperback
A Voice through a Cloud is English novelist Denton Welch’s heartbreaking account of his recovery from a bicycling accident that left him partially paralyzed at the age of twenty. Dominated by Welch’s acute powers of observation, the book (first published in 1950) is a tour-de-force of both self-analysis and external description, as Welch lies in a hospital bed and struggles with his illness and his relationships with family and doctor. Finished as Welch was dying thirteen years later from complications resulting from the accident, A Voice through a Cloud’s account of a young man’s struggle with debilitating illness has sad and unforeseen parallels to contemporary life. While In Youth Is Pleasure is probably Welch’s best-loved book, and Maiden Voyage his most scandalous, A Voice through a Cloud is perhaps his masterpiece, containing his most accomplished writing.
“When asked what writer has most directly influenced my own work I can answer without hesitation: Denton Welch.” — William S. Burroughs
“An incomparable account of shattered flesh and refracted spirit… Though Welch had the abilities of a novelist, misfortune made him a kind of prophet, and it is as a prophetic document, a proclamation of our terrible fragility, that his valediction should be treasured.” — John Updike, The New Yorker
“I can think of no writer who has described extreme physical and mental agony with a more appalling vividness… The real horror implicit in the book is that pain is the only reality.” — Jocelyn Brooke