My rating: 5/10. Some decent essays but not enough of them to swing the balance between “fair” and “very good” reading. A lot of reciting of railway schedules, and short, out of context snippets about trips which blurred together after a while. Travel writing “lite”. I expected more from this writer.
A few essays into this book I was thinking to myself, “Okay, these are obviously excerpts from other works. Where’s the reference page?” Looking through the front and back material, there was no indication that this was the case; it apparently is a stand-alone collection of (mostly) travel tales and short reminiscences of the writer’s earlier life.
There is no context given more many of the trips referenced, which I found disconcerting. “Flying into Coober Pedy…” Yes – okay – so you’re in Australia – but WHY are you there? What bigger trip is this part of? And aside from discovering that opal miners like to be paid in cash, and certain of them have a fondness for personal architecture such as a revolving bed surrounded by mirrors, what other memorable things did you find there that we, your readers, might be interested in?
Though there are well-written, interesting, and amusing passages, the whole thing feels like a selection of truncated pages from a personal journal, bits and pieces of information jotted down in transit to aid in later memory of the trip. Perhaps it is, worked up with a minimum of added information.
I suspect this is a book which was commissioned and published on the strength of the author’s earlier, and much stronger, efforts. A case of selling the name, not the content.
It was readable, but vaguely unsatisfying. One to borrow from the library for light diversion, hotel room reading on a road trip (which is how I’ve just experienced it), but I’m not left with an urge to rush out to buy it. Not recommended, unless you come by it for a bargain basement price.