…we haven’t forgotten our duties of a Bedside Table nature. In fact supplies have had to be replenished, and an excellent little bookshop in Beaumaris produced some little gems. Mind you Colwyn Bay is still on the agenda, and I’ve a note of several bookshops to visit whilst others may be doing some more traditional sea-side town retail therapy.
Tahir Shah was first up, with his latest venture into fiction, Paris Syndrome. It proved to be a hugely enjoyable romp focussing on the people of Japan and the places of Paris, and the interaction between them. I’d expect no less from Mr Shah, who’s never let me down yet. True to form he managed to bring Casablanca and Bogie into the script, without detracting from the tale. But I’m trying to ignore those horrible print-on-demand covers, despite applauding his efforts to maximise the take these days. Great fun.
Another old favourite was next up. The Scorpion-Fish has recently been published by Eland, long awaited sequel in translation to Nicolas Bouvier’s wonderful The Way of the World. This time he takes us to a certain tear-drop shaped island off the coast of India, part of the same time on the road outlined in his earlier work, and a period when he did much of his writing, whilst recovering from a trio of illnesses. Bouvier’s descriptive narrative, his minute observations, even of the minutae of life such as the cockroaches and scorpions that infest his rooms, add colour to a colourful land. We are introduced to characters steeped in local flavour, and even one who he later found out died six years previously. Oh yes he did.
Aside from that there’s the current edition of Earthlines, as well as Marine Quarterly. So rich pickings from both land sea whenever the mood is right.
At the moment I’m developing a deep admiration for Irma Kurtz, and a first dip for me into her written works. In Then Again she retraces the steps of her younger self. Published a decade or so ago it tells of her travels a an 18 year old student, heading to Europe for the first time back in the early 50s. She looks back with the wisdom of the passing years, and the diary she kept and found in her mother’s cupboard. Introspection, and the thoughts she wrote only fr her own eyes decades previously. Enjoying this one, and so fr we’ve only gone from the Isle of Wight to Amsterdam.
From Beaumaris, waiting my attention is Tony Anderson’s Bread and Ashes – A Walk Through the Mountains of Georgia; and The Afghan Amulet, Sheila Paine. So from her Hindu Kush adventures where better than to Mr Newby, who once had a short walk down that way. I picked up a collection of his favourite travel tales, featuring extracts from, amongst others, PLF, Twain, Wolf and Lawrence. And I’m patiently waiting on dipping into a tale from Ejnar Mikkelsen, marooned in the Arctic a century ago.
So despite all the fun, there’s still time for a good book or three. Worry not.