Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Chips & Tusker. Actually, Mostly Books

They burnt the chips at Chauma last night. Disappointing since when
done well Chauma has the best fries in the world.

Finished reading a collection of stories by Russian authors (First
Love-Turgenev, The Gambler-Dostoyevsky, Master and Man-Tolstoy, The
Duel-Chekhov). Meh.

Finished reading Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of A Child
Soldier. It's (obviously) a very interesting story, but it has some of
the flattest prose I've ever encountered. I have a pet peeve with
people who do not use contractions. It is so annoying. It makes
everything feel exceptionally stilted. This is what the sentences in
the book were like. So it's a question of how much of a break you
should cut the kid; he is a former child soldier from Sierra Leone,
being alive is an accomplishment to be proud of.

Another book I finished that is tangentially related (only in terms of
my thoughts on the book vis-à-vis its author) is A Long Trek Home:
4000 Miles by Boot, Raft, and Ski by Erin McKittrick. I saw Erin and
her husband Hig give a presentation at ALDHA-West a few years ago.
They hiked, pack-rafted and skied from Seattle to the first of the
Aleutian Islands in Alaska. To put it bluntly, the adventure was epic,
the book, not so much. It's a collection of page-long unconnected
vignettes. They're in chronological order, but it's frankly a burden
to read the book continuously and have to reset your brain every page
or so. Alright, where are they now? Where are they trying to get? I
think the photography is spectacular, so I wish they'd made a coffee
table book instead. They're super nice people, so I don't want to
trash their book too much. Check out their blog at
groundtruthtrekking.org.

(Still, this is further evidence that adventures and books by the
adventurers are very rarely both amazing. Bill Bryson's Walk in the
Woods is a funny book, but he sucked at hiking the AT. Reading the
River, the book I read about a voyage down the Yukon, was great
reading, but he motored the whole way. I think to learn enough about
the people and places you see, you have to take time to visit and take
notes, making your adventure not really that hard-core. I'd love to
hear of exceptions to this rule.)

I started watching the movie The Blind Side to see how long I could
make it before hating it and turning off. 9 Minutes was the answer,
and that includes the opening production/studio credits and several
minutes of NFL footage showing LT ruin Joe Theismann. So that
basically means I made it through 2 minutes of actual acting.

How difficult do you think it would be to travel home after my two
years here without using a plane? Just leave most of my stuff here,
give my laptop to a friend to bring home, and bike north until I get
robbed, then start taking buses and boats. The sketchiest part is
probably getting from Juba to Khartoum, then I assume I could get to
the UK and take a boat from there to Iceland and then from Iceland to
Nova Scotia (or Vladivostok to Alaska?) Oh wait, Syria and Libya
aren't exactly the greatest places to visit now. Boat from Egypt to
Turkey or Greece?

I wrote a post on the invite-only blog, whose URL is [the title of the
blog you're looking at right now].blogspot.com.

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