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The author is a scholar and it shows
on 15 August 2013
Into the Heart of Borneo author Redmond O'Hanlon is a man of supreme higher education - Oxford scholar - and this fact hits you in the face repeatedly like a repeating face hitter.
The first lines of the first page; Redmond can't resist, he activates scholarship mode and immediately quotes four lines from "C. D. Darlington, The Evolution of Man and Society, 1969". Second page, two paragraphs from "Tom Harrisson's World Within (1959)". Eighth page, four paragraphs from "The Sarawak Museum Journal volume VII, December 1956".
I enjoyed these academic extracts in the same way a kid enjoys listening to his parents talking about global economics. At first, the kid feels like a grown up but after a while, he walks off to play smash toy cars into each other and make explosion noises.
Redmond never deactivates scholarship mode and what starts out as a minor irk turns into a full-on hindrance. He just can't stop. Redmond encounters many exotic animals on his trek through Borneo and cannot resist the chance to use their Latin names and whip in more passages from books nobody cares about. It gets to the point where I automatically skip a few pages as soon as he spots an animal because I already know what's going to happen. "Rounding a bend on the path, we found ourselves staring straight at a raven-sized bird with a deep chestnut colo", skip ten lines. "It was a common coucal, Centropus sinensis", skip two pages.
I've given the book one star because I never finished it. I was watching Total Wipeout USA and flicked through the remaining 150 pages (book is 224 pages) during the ad breaks. After the programme finished I pretended/convinced myself I had finished it so I wouldn't have to suffer anymore. Basically, given the choice between reading this book and watching fat people fall into water, I prefer the latter.