Customer Review

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dream on..., 16 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Dreaming Of Jupiter (Paperback)
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.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jan 2011 23:56:54 GMT
marcus s says:
Rather harsh criticism..you can't expect more of the same from a man who is thirty years older. I would much prefer any author to be honest and reveal some of their innate weaknesses along the way, even vanity..after all, it's something most men suffer from at some point in their lives. Maybe the book also shows us an important lesson..enjoy life to the full while you are young as its no bed of roses after you hit seventy.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2012 08:38:37 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Mar 2012 08:44:57 GMT
R. A. Amatt says:
Dreaming of Jupiter: In Search of the World--Thirty Years On Reading Jupiters Travels back in the 1980's I was inspired by the journey that Ted Simon made but acutely aware that here was a man in search of something, and it was clear by the end of the book that he never found it. This return to the journey was perhaps another attempt to discover what he was looking for, and only he knows if he found it.

Posted on 11 Apr 2012 17:02:45 BDT
Well, Mr Ward. Have you actually undertaken a such a venture yourself - ever? (Perhaps even a bit of armchair, computer game playing jealousy?...and, yes, I have.) What really qualifies you to cast these aspersions on the comparisons and conclusions that old Ted draws. Perhaps he is right. How would you know? It is true that many old men become 'grumpy' in their opinions but I have witnessed many of the changes he describes myself and I would argue that he is generally right. Those who grow up in the new workd know nothing better and make the best of it without complaining but that does not necessarily make it better. At least your 1-star review of flexible drinking straws was based on first hand experience.
Marcus S would probably describe my comment about your 'harsh criticism' as harsh in itself, and I apologise and take it all back - seriously :) But I hope that your comment will not be construed as being sufficiently authoritative to deter readers from a book of truthful observations.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Apr 2012 17:26:22 BDT
S. Ward says:
Well 'Rickster', the review I provided was (in case you happened to miss it) concerned with Ted's book. In light of this, it would seem to me that the main qualification required for a review is to have read the book, no? Thankfully we don't have to fly to the moon and back every time we want to review Apollo13 etc. Therefore, remarks about armchairs and computer games are a little off the point wouldn't you agree?

I gave the book two stars, one is for making the trip again and the other for undertaking the writing the book - both worthy efforts. Unfortunately the attitude he brings to both endeavours the second time around left me so underwhelmed that it provoked me to write what I did - and I stand by it.

If he wanted to make a book full of (according to you) "truthful" observations about how everything is worse off than before then he is clearly free to do so, however I am equally free to not like it and thus share my views about it.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Aug 2013 19:36:33 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Aug 2013 19:37:46 BDT
Orryl Oak says:
..and continue to pronounce from an ad-hominem perspective on one person's view of the places he has travelled 30 years on. Your main beef appears to be that he walked into some places and introduced himself by name. Your gloss on this appears to be that he was expecting to be recognized? Thin soup for making any case against Mr Simon.

You go on to say he has an 'attitude'. I think a grumpy oldster with an attitude is the very perspective required for this journey; esp one who has something material in the way of experience on which to draw comparative inferences.

I would stick to reviewing flexible drinking straws as you have shown a clear talent in this regard and readers will know they are benefitting from an objective assessment of these essential devices by a reviewer who is at the height of their intellectual powers. Hey, this ad-hom is fun!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Aug 2013 23:29:03 BDT
S. Ward says:
So Orryl.. I take it you didn't like my review then! Oh well.
While drinking straws are certainly no mountain boards I grant you, I still feel upon re-reading it that my original review stands up and in fact - despite your best efforts to make yourself feel better by insulting me and my intelligence with your (somewhat self regarding) prose - I think it's fairly clear what my issues with the book are and that really it's not an attack on Ted's character per se but about his choices as a writer. Feel free to have your own opinion of course! Love and cherish the hell out of that book if you so desire, me I'm sticking with my review above. Keep up the good work.

Posted on 22 Mar 2015 14:11:24 GMT
Ridiculous review. Just do the decent thing and withdraw it.
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S. Ward
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Location: London, UK

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