Posted by: billpurdue | February 19, 2009

43 Adventure and nature

Pure adventure

gentlemenThe time is somewhere in the dim and distant past, the place: in the foothills of the Caucasus; two people, a burly African and a slim scarecrow of  a man pick a fight over a supposed insult about the African’s eating habits. The African sends a knife skimming through the air slicing through the scarecrow’s hat which provokes a duel. Surprisingly the African ends up being left for dead, but the duel is actually staged in order to make money out of the bets on who will win.  Before they can collect their winnings, a mahout attempts to hire the pair to escort a young prince to meet his wealthy relatives who, it is assumed, will pay a handsome reward. But, as you can expect, nothing goes to plan and this is how this swashbuckling novel Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon [Sceptre £12 9780340953549 ] begins.

In Blog number 35 (An Interview with Stephen Booth) I wrote about another of Michael Chabon’s novels: The Final Solution . This is quite a different story- a different era, a different setting and a different type of narrative – , but there are one or two similarities. The cover is styled to look like an example of pulp adventure fiction of the early 20th Century and the narrative, even the chapter titles and illustrations, are fashioned to match. I have to say it isn’t my kind of book, but those who enjoy that kind of thing will definitely enjoy it. In fact reviews on Amazon are almost all very good.

Two nature writers

I’ve enjoyed reading about nature ever since my parents gave me a book by Fred Kitchen called “Jesse and his Friends” (now only available on the second hand market), so I was interested to see these two titles, both still available.

song-earthSong of the Rolling Earth, a Highland Odyssey by John Lister-Kaye [Abacus £7.99 0349117616 ] is a combination of some very lyrical writing about the flora and fauna of the Highlands and the origins of the Aigas Field Centre which offers holidays for those who love to watch wildlife. It’s the sort of writing you need time to absorb and digest to get the full flavour and atmosphere of what the writer is trying to put across.

wildwoodYou could say the same about Wildwood: a journey through trees by Roger Deakin [Penguin £8.99 9780141010014] : anything and everything to do with trees and wood, ranging from the joys of a shed to the Forest of Dean or the millions of olive trees on the Greek island of Lesbos. It’s a book to read from end to end – in a leisurely fashion – but there’s lots of information hidden in its pages: it’s a pity it doesn’t have an index. Roger Deakin’s latest and last book (he died in 2006) is Notes from Walnut Tree Farm [Hamish Hamilton £20 9780241144206 ]. This is a selection of pieces from the notebooks he kept during the last 6 years of his life.

News for Notts library users

As from this month Nottinghamshire Libraries will no longer send out overdue letters to readers (now called customers). Instead you can sign up for an emailing or texting service which will alert you that your books are due back very soon or that your books are now overdue. You can also be informed about new services or events. To get this service, you will need to pop into your library and fill in a slip of paper with you email address and/or mobile number plus your library card number. It might save a few bob in library fines.

Next time: The Gargoyle (a “Richard and Judy” book)


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