Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I took this book out of the library thinking it was going to be a bland 'how to' book on basic survival skills. To my surprise, and delight, it was much more. It is part journal and part 'how to' blended together to put the skills into context. This made for an enjoyable read with all of the practical knowledge to boot. But wait, there was more. The personal accounts of Mark brought in a spiritual philosophical dimension on how natural living effects the soul, the idea that nature is not an adversary, even the concept of time. Reading this book not only filled my soul with more respect and appreciation for the natural world but a desire to reevaluate my own thoughts and slow down life a bit...and of course, try out some cool survival skills!
Most of the book is structured as a journal (ie Day 1). Mark keeps us updated on what skills he used, what they made, or maybe what they caught for dinner. I'm happy to report that there are not many repetitive or mundane journal entries. Each day seems to bring on new challenges or observations of nature. There were a few too many pages on mice tracking or vole sightings for my liking, but that's just me. The journal did progress from a practical account of day to day 'chores' to a much great much broader view of the natural world and humans place in it. By the end of the adventure/experiment the entries had turned into full out rants, blasting society's evils and praising the unforgiving world of nature. I got the impression Mark was not going to be headed home, but instead staying in his leaf/stick debris hut and coming that 'hermit' of the woods that we've all heard about in urban myths.
The prologue and epilogue pull everything together. They are must reads in this book. Mark admits that he has changed a lot since he went on this survival quest. He alluded to a feeling that he was slightly ashamed or embarrassed about some of his rantings. I do commend his apology for breaking a few laws (trespassing, poaching, etc) and agree that to survive he had to do a few illegal things.
Overall, I thought this was a superb blending of 'how to' with an in-context story making for a wonderful read.
RATING - READ
Thursday, July 7, 2011
ADVENTURES IN SOLITUDE
- Grant Lawrence -
RATING : READ!
- Robert Ludlum -
Wordy! This book just has too many words. It could be a quick two or three hundred page fast movin' action packed paperback, instead of the 600 page mammoth it turned into. Now, there were many scenes that put you on the edge of your seat and kept you turning those 600 pages. There were the expected car chases, the identity changes, the occasional explosions and gun battles that I was expecting (and hoping for). But, there was also so much more...pages to read that is. Pages and pages of dialogue that seemed to drag on and on and on...like one of those phone messages you might get, you know that ones that time out they are so long...
Hey! Hello? Oh, you must not be home? Oh well, it's me. Me! Haha. Calling on my cell. I was calling to set up a meeting time. So, I'll leave a message I guess, haha. Call me on my cell and hopefully you will get me and won't have to leave a message and I won't have to call you back and leave a message haha. Anyway, again just had a moment so I thought I'd call. You know I forget sometimes, so when I do remember I just call. But, looks like you are not home...
You get the idea, a whole lot of blabbering, repeating, and droning on. At points while reading I wanted to yell at the book, "get to the point already! Or, at least move on to a car chase or something!"
I also found the entire storyline a bit too unbelievable, even for an over the top spy thriller. In this novel an assassin has been murdering top Hong Kong business men and diplomats, all the while leaving the calling card of Jason Bourne. The copy cat had to be stopped. The FBI/CIA guys get together and form a plan to motivate the real Jason Bourne to come out of retirement (aka witness protection program) and take on this killer. He is the only person in the world with enough skill to do it.
The plan is to kidnap his wife, whom you may remember as the tough as nails Canadian economist from the first novel? The plan goes a bit haywire after Marie escapes. Jason turns crazy thinking his wife is dead...all making great fodder for an explosive story. Unfortunately, the story gets bogged down with the long drawn out conversations between the government/FBI/CIA folks and the Hong Kong government guys. There conversations try to tell a bigger story about the Chinese wanting to cause a major crisis in Hong Kong so they can take it back over. However, there is a real chance this will turn into a something much bigger - WWIII!!
A big far fetched you say? I was lost too. After reading the 300 or so pages outlining the collapse of the East I was really bored, annoyed, and had eye strain. This, consequently, left me with the feeling that this book was really slow and not that good overall.
Another bone I have to pick with Ludlum is that error on Canadian geography! He writes that Marie is a tough ranch girl and their family has a ranch in Calgary. Makes sense, there are ranches out in Calgary. Calgary is in the province of Alberta which is wide open ranch country. Where the mistake comes up is that Ludlum keeps mentioning the ranch is in Ontario (not Alberta!) Every time he wrote something about Marie being a tough Ontario ranch girl I would cringe. I'm still left wondering how an editor did not catch something like this?
Rating: Do Not Read*
*Unless you are working on increasing your page count, let's say if you are in a contest such as 'who can read the most pages this month'.