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Great biking but not great literature...
on 27 May 2010
There's no doubt that this is a readable and fascinating book. The bike ride recounted here is the first chunk of Alistair's epic ride. It gives a very lively sense of life on the road. Al comes across as a fun chap but, frankly, a bit of an adolescent. He seems always to notice the girls (more than the architecture, history, etc), he's big on 'proving himself' (tho' he notes that this is a bit silly), he spends a fair bit of time crying about the hardships of the road (separation, physical exhaustion for instance) and he's surprised in a slightly naieve way about the depths of poverty and political corruption as he goes along. He isn't, yet, as good a writer as Josie Dew who is both funnier and intrudes herself less into the foreground. Josie is also a fair bit better at telling us about people - she seems to have better conversations. And Dervla Murphy gives you more depth about what a place is really like, more than, say, the cliches of poverty, corruption, colonialism. There are too many 'profound' quotes in this book - dotted here and there and giving it a touch of the 'new age self help' manual . But Al does change as he travels and perhaps that's part of the interest of this book - and the next, which I'll certainly be reading.