If Tim Moore's Spanish Steps
is a prime example of a new kind of travel writing--sardonically funny, quirkily observed and full of bizarre detail--that's good news for readers; if Bill Bryson has forged a whole new genre, who can complain if other writers plough similar fields? Particularly if they do it with as much gusto as Tim Moore. In fact, Moore is actually a rather more penetrating writer than the better-known Bryson, and this tale of a foolhardy pilgrimage with a recalcitrant donkey makes some salient points in between the healthy crop of stinging one-liners.
Moore had been fascinated by stories he'd heard of pilgrimages which many Europeans had taken through sultry and unwelcoming Spanish terrain to Santiago de Compostela. The sub-title says it all: "One Man and his Ass on the Pilgrim Way to Santiago"--and Moore's treacherous donkey is as much a character as the bizarre dramatis personae the author encounters. Everything is against him: weather that saps his resolve at every step of the way, impossible dormitories (some of the funniest sections of the book), eccentric fellow travellers, and an animal that, if it could speak, would be constantly asking "is this journey really necessary?"
Amid the acres of scary impediments that fall into Moore's path, a whole host of detail crowds in that makes Spain come to vivid life: we're given a seat-of-the-pants experience quite as memorable (and occasionally painful) as the author's. The descriptions are priceless:
Unexpected confrontation with full-frontal, Pilsner-bellied German nudity was an occupational hazard in any refugio bathroom
(the man's) wrinkled pilgrim parts now rested on the rim of the sink I was waiting to clean my teeth in
But many serious points are made--always lightly--about a million subjects (not least the lessons of history) in the delightful pages of Spanish Steps
. --Barry Forshaw
'Andrew Sachs's deadpan reading is a joy' -- The Guardian
'At last, a travel book that makes you think but also makes you laugh out loud.' -- Sue Arnold, The Guardian
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.