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Category Archives: book
i’ve never read a more affecting book than jay griffiths’ wild: an elemental journey. it is the one book i would save from a house fire, and if i had time, i’d save her other books too. the greatest books i’ve ever read have somehow involved an element of luck or intuition (and judging a book by it’s cover). wild was the biggest book on scarborough library’s shelf 6 years ago when i read it. bold, sans-serif WILD emanating from the spine; i didn’t even read the description.
there are many more of these interviews with various authors on resist network’s website, these are just four by jay that i liked.
2 of the best books i read last year were about afghanistan. the photographer and the places in between.
between the chapters of government grievances, anti-tourism and ‘synthetic prisons’ abbey writes of his summers as park ranger in the deserts of utah. dry, desolate and unforgiving, the desert as abbey describes it is the opposite. a place to be respected and learned from, protected from the tyranny of the national parks association, abbey explores the wilderness with confidence and excitement. at times abbey rants in the way you can only do with age, and those are my least favourite aspects of this book, though i mostly agree. the rest is diary, guidebook, anecdotes and observations of one of the least explored parts of the usa.
abbey does not fear the wilderness, but embraces it’s ability to instill fear as one of it’s most endearing qualities.
for those not bothered about reading books printed on a4 (or letter size now i’m all metric or whatever) i just set up a copy of jack london’s classic ‘call of the wild‘ and figured i may as well make it available for all. it’s a bit rough and there’s some weird page and line breaks, but essentially it’s just like a normal book.
download the pdf and print her out however. original files and other formats for this can be found at www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/215
there are many more freely available classics at www.gutenberg.org
when i first read blood river, butcher’s first book, i had resisted it’s call for a long time. my initial thought was that it was another middle class adventure book, the result of a drunken night at university, where unicycling the length of south america seems like a perfectly good idea and there’s a career in public speaking and book touring in the bag while you think up the next ‘crazy, madcap’ adventure.
having read everything i wanted to read in the house, it was almost a best of a bad bunch situation that forced me to read it. had i done some research, i’d have seen butcher’s credentials as a war correspondent and journalist and read it instantly but there you go, i judge books not only by their cover, but by my own imagined background of the author. blood river was simply excellent.
chasing the devil lacks some of the edginess and adventure i felt from the first expedition but it has an abundance of background information and research that goes much further than the walk from sierra leone to liberia itself. the links to graham greene and those stories are fascinating. the underlying, all powerful poro whose influence butcher attributes to many of the areas problems. the corruption, the harrowing war stories, the analysis of africa from the insular, personal level, all make this book much more than a simple travel journal. i liked it a lot.