What a delightful book. The style is a unique, tongue in cheek, and totally irreverent to one and all. The story is irrelevant and only serves as a vehicle for Jonassson to cock a hoop at the world in general. Of course, it was not as enjoyable as the earlier one, ‘The 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared’, as the novelty factor was missing. That was the original. But the interest never flags even in this one, and the author manages to create unique characters and situations. Just as the earlier book took us on a rollicking tour through world history of the first half of the century, this one takes us from the apartheid ridden South Africa, of Botha through the politics of the ‘bomb’ in the latter part of the 20th century to the shifting power equations of the 21st century. A highly recommended page turner!
Raymond Chandler was the American counterpart Agatha Christie and Simenon and Ngaio Marsh in my early reading years of the 60s. Beside the fact that we were closer to the British way of doing things, his stories had none of the subtility or restraint that the latter who-dunnits. And although I did read a few, what I remember of them were leggy blondes and lots of guns. And this is exactly what it was, as I read this Chandler this tie around. And I read it only as it was on the TIME list (my 13th book on the A-B list) – I really cannot quiet see how it is on the list of 100 great books!! It probably has that nostalgic appeal for a certain period and time, for American readers – but its more global appeal is definitely limited. I managed to finish it only because it is a short book!! There was little in ti that appealed to me – a ‘dated’ tale, which may appeal to those with nostalgia for the time and place – namely the badlands of the West in the 30s.
And finally, the travel book – this time on one of my favorite travelers Ibn Batuta. IB, as Mackintosh-Smith refers to him, was the ultimate traveller. Having walked overland from Morocco up to China and back in the 14th century, he lived to tell his tale. He spent many years in India, serving in the courts of Mohamed-bin-Tughlaq and others of than period. Mackintosh-Smith is an ardent IB fan and in his earlier book “Travels with a tangerine” he follows the first stage of Ibn Battutah’s journey, from Tangier to Constantinople, through the Egyptian desert, Syria, across the Arabian Sea . In the present book, he tries to locate the sites that IB records of his travels through India. Much of medieval India has been razed to the ground, by successive dynasties and the rest has disappeared under the expansion of population in more recent years. So, the search for the sites in present day India, is an interesting adventure, revealing something of IB’s travels, but more of the present state of Indian towns. Written with humor and understanding, with no judgement of any sort, it is an entertaining account of the present day India, illustrated by lovely pencil sketches of the sites and people.
A note: This was a library book – and this was the work of a previous reader.