Sunday, November 30, 2014

Recently Read

Rod Howard The Fabulist : The Incredible Story of Louis de Rougemont (2006).  In 1898, Louis de Rougemont showed up in London to tell an incredible story of spending 30 years as a castaway on the northwest coast of Australia after a shipwreck, where he was taken in by cannibalistic aborigines who made  him their king instead of dinner.  While there were some skeptics, in short order he won over enough od the scientific establishment that the Royal Geographic Society and other prestige organizations had him speak about his discoveries.  Further inquiries subsequently blew huge holes in his claims, and he was eventually exposed as a fraud, although some of his more bizarre claims eventually turned out to be true: he had spent considerable time among northwest Australian aborigines.  Howard's book details the story of his dramatic, largely fictional claims, and the journalistic efforts exposing him as a Swiss-Australian con man named Henri Grien.

 Bruce Feiler Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses (2005).  You may recognize this as the book version of Feiler's PBS series.  Feiler starts as a very secular American Jew (he works for NPR) traveling the Middle East tracing the path of the Pentateuch in a search for literary meaning, but ends up profoundly moved by the experience into a sort of New Agey ecumenical sort of Judaism.  Part of what makes this book so  enjoyable even if you are not religious is his  sardonic observations about the current state of this part of the world,  He describes an Egyptian breakfast, and it helps to know that broiled tomatoes are part of a traditional English breakfast.
The Egyptian breakfast is not quite as plentiful as the Israeli, but it has a similar feel.  Plates of white and yellow cheeses, bowls of steamed plums, and lots o creamy things with spices that look like crawly insects sprawled on top.  Arabs like their spices still on the stem--oregano, coriander, fennel, cumin.  I practically had to chew through a crown of thorns to find my way to a broiled tomato: Take that, English imperialism.(p. 125)
Most of this was typed with both hands..  If you see any double letters from the right side of the keyboard it is  because pressing is easier than retracting.

1 comment:

  1. I began reading Feiler's book - had it in my camp trailer - but though it was interesting, I stalled out pretty early, and never got round to finishing it.