Saturday, September 20, 2014

In Patagonia at EIL, and other assorted news

Just a quick post to say that there's a new book review up on Escape Into Life by Julie C. Graham on the classic travel book In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin and you can  find it HERE. To my chagrin, I've never read any of Chatwin's acclaimed works, but in putting up a couple of supplemental links to the review in case readers are interested in going further, I discovered something that I had long been curious about. At the time Chatwin died in 1989, he was said to have picked up some rare tropical disease. Somehow I managed to miss the later disclosure that he had actually died of AIDS. He was one of the first British celebrity types to get or least show symptoms of the disease so his lack of candor is understandable and makes me realize what a long way we've come. But it's funny the effect these kinds of evasions have. For years I've retained really only one thing about Chatwin, and that was the dying of a puzzling tropical disease part. And it's subtly affected my whole idea about intrepid traveling and its hazards. Of course there are hazards to intrepid traveling, it's just that Chatwin's particular fate isn't one of them.

And I learned from Wikipedia just now that Chatwin's memorial service was held at a Greek Orthodox church in London. It was attended by Salman Rushdie, one of his close friends. That day happened to be the day that the notorious fatwa was pronounced upon Rushdie. This was chronicled later by both Paul Theroux and Martin Amis. One of those odd little nodes of British literary history.

In other news, I was thrilled the other day to see that Karen Joy Fowler had made the Booker Prize shortlist for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Fowler is a resident of the Santa Cruz area, and I happened to read the book in galley form before publication, which frankly was probably the best way in the world to read it as there were absolutely no spoilers. Anyway, it's a terrific book, and although I haven't read the others on the shortlist, I hope she wins.
Fingers crossed.

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