Most helpful critical review
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2010
Let me say - and Ted, if you are reading this; please remember - I loved your first Motorcycling book 'Jupiter's Travels'.
I recommended it to many people, (my wife included) who loved it, and I have promoted that book to many other people who have also enjoyed it.
So, after enjoying reading the first book so much I was really excited about buying 'Draming of Jupiter' and reading it.
Big mistake. But, let me tell you why..
For those with a short attention span, who want a quick answer to `should I buy this book?' the answer is:
"only if you enjoy listening to the irritating moaning of a grumpy old Englishman on a repeat journey around the world to see if he is as important and famous as he thinks he might be, only to find out the answer is no".
To expand slightly, Ted brings us all on a literary ride where he visits all the places he went to 30 years or so ago and (in summary) reports that everything is essentially worse off and (surprise, surprise) is not as good as it was `back in his day', as judged from the lofty heights of the typical English post-colonial in-built superiority that views any country or person that isn't English with (mostly unconscious and well-meaning) condescension, ridicule and light pity. All the while attempting to cover this with a thin veil of being a `man of the world' and `curious and open to all cultures' while (almost without fail) criticising or disapproving of each one he encounters. It's a non-stop litany of whinges. He attempts all along to mask his innate grumpy-old-man nature with occasional self-deprecation and modesty but sadly it never quite covers the painful reality of the all-too-apparent subtext. It becomes so obvious that Ted's vision of how important and influential he is in the world, crashes head-on with the reality that ultimately he isn't really. No more than the rest of us anyway. Even with the god-like power of writing his own book he fails to mask the fact that the world turned without him and that he's now just an old guy that wrote a good book once about an adventure he had, but now is a bit too old and a bit too grumpy to enjoy any of that anymore. I kept myself entertained with the thought of how many instances he left out of the book involving him wandering into a place and saying "Hi, I'm Ted Simon". (silence). "I'm a pretty big deal in the motorcycling world you know". (Blank stare, shrug).
Now the really disappointing thing about it all is that he kind of gives a nod to his age and the challenges of the trip ahead etc at the start which leads you into a false sense of hope that somehow he is saying this to play on your expectations, set you up before amazingly turning it all around to reveal a transcendently stunning piece of insight into the nature of ageing and travel and the things that join people together. Sadly it turns out to be more of a prophecy for how the book unfolds. The digested read is as follows:
"I recognise that I am an old man about to undertake a difficult repeat journey retracing my steps to see if I am important or not, that may turn out to be fruitless.. so here we go. Oh, I'm not all that important actually.. it was fruitless. The end".
If that's your cup of tea - fantastic. Go right ahead an buy it, be my guest. For the rest of you, just do what Ted Simon should have done all along : re-read Jupiter's Travels and re-live the magic, rather than desecrate the memory.