I've actually read this twice before years ago, and on the third time around this time I was looking for something specific in it (so still have it ma...moreI've actually read this twice before years ago, and on the third time around this time I was looking for something specific in it (so still have it marked as to-read mainly to remind me) - but I seem to keep getting waylaid with other books.. (less)
Douglas Botting is an excellent biographer, helped by the fact that he was a close friend of Maxwells'. His early life growing up in the Scottish high...moreDouglas Botting is an excellent biographer, helped by the fact that he was a close friend of Maxwells'. His early life growing up in the Scottish highlands and his WW2 SAS service & later shark hunting ventures prove him to be a talented and formidable force. A shame Maxwell's estate put a block on some parts of Maxwell's life. eg. his homosexuality and bipolar disorder were only marginally mentioned; which gives a rather lopsided view of his relationships, namely those of Kathleen Rain and his wife Lavinia figure more predominately and of his relationships with animals and conservation. The omission of details of his homosexuality and biopolar condition make it hard to understand the man in some ways, but in other ways only add to the sense than Gavin Maxwell did not fit into the world and was essentially an outsider. Maxwell by all accounts was a remarkable man & writer though sadly feted with disaster after disaster (some of his own making). His adventures in the middle east and Morocco are well covered and also his lifelong love of nature & efforts to create a conservation zoo on one of the Scottish isles that he purchased. It was because of Maxwell's efforts that throughout the world otters have been since studied & protected in the wild. His book 'Ring of Bright Water'/& sequel and subsequent film stirred the general public to look at the countryside around them and create a greater interest in ecology. His poetry is quoted throughout and there are many obscure facts that delight. It was Maxwell who spurred the young Richard Branson (Virgin airlines etc) on to leave school and create his own business. Maxwell's fairly sudden death at age 55 of cancer is described and has the effect of making one think twice before downing another scotch and a cigarette.
This edition contains a great many photographs.(less)
Read it. Be appalled. - written in the unrelenting tense of now - the horror never ends.
The author's use of present tense works like an incantation, g...moreRead it. Be appalled. - written in the unrelenting tense of now - the horror never ends.
The author's use of present tense works like an incantation, grasping you by the throat tightly, it makes you breathless in a hyperventilating kind of way, you cannot stop - only turn the page, trying to read faster if only to get to the end of it. There's no real repose from the untenable pace, the brutal array of death merely merges into other grotesqueries you'd rather not think about too much.
You can't help feeling some gratitude and guilt for being born in a country not torn apart in civil war. There's the after effect - the infinite sadness to know somewhere today children are being forced to fight in wars not of their making - carrying guns too heavy for them and knives that kill not only their enemies but eventually their own sense of right and wrong, their sanity and their future.
I don't know if the author is a genius (the dust jacket tells me he is). The continual present tense grated and unnerved me - creating that kind of adrenaline rush fear does. Bad grammar and spelling annoyed me, but served it's purpose, being the fictional memoir of an African boy it really could be no other way. I'm rating it at the midway mark 3 stars, not because I liked it, because it's not the kind of book you can "like", but because I can't decide if it should get one star for technique or 5 stars for effect. It certainly achieves it's purpose to shock, despite the character Agu's limited vocabulary the book paints a lurid and searing image that almost rivals the work of war photographers James Nachtwey http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/ and Robert Capa .