About 10 years ago – or maybe more; all I know is I was in secondary school – I read in one of my English schoolbooks a fragment from Graham Greene’s Travels with my aunt. At the time I had no idea who Graham Greene was, but I found the text hilarious and I’ve been meaning to read the book ever since. Now I have, but it only goes to show I shouldn’t listen to my 14-year-old self 😉 I usually enjoy Mr. Greene’s books a great deal – they’re relaxing and thrilling at the same time and a perfect holiday read. This one though is very different: less politics more family drama. But really now, how many thrills can you get when your main characters are a retired bank manager and his crazy 70-year-old aunt who had led an adventurous life and is still clinging on to it? It’s good for a few laughs when Mr. Pulling discovers his long-lost relative and travels with her through Britain, but the Turkey journey – that’s the jumping the shark moment. And by the time they get to Argentina, the above mentioned shark is so far behind they can’t even see it anymore. So…to cut it short – I was rather disappointed, but I share the blame since my expectations may have been somewhat unfair in the first place: I think I was looking for a Jerome K Jerome type of story.
Salmon fishing in the Yemen….now there’s a catchy title and a surprisingly fun book. Easy read – great for the beach and so on – at least when it comes to the parody. Alfred Jones is an ichthyologist who’s coerced into being a very important part of a project dreamed up by a sheik Muhammad to introduce salmon fishing to a Yemen river. The book is basically composed of bits from Alfred’s diary, email exchanges between him and his estranged wife, his deposition to the Committee of External Affairs of the House of Commons and many other hilarious sources. Peter Maxwell, the PM’s communications director is ridiculous, incompetent, full of himself and so over the top that I’d love to know who is the inspiration for his character. His political savvy reminded be a bit of In the loop, and I could definitely see Peter Capaldi playing him in a movie. But beyond the ridiculous premise, everyone who gets caught up in this affair leads an otherwise sad and lonely life – Alfred Jones maybe more so than the rest – and by the end, you’re left with a bittersweet taste. The Guardian review – here.
LE: I just started reading this and I had to share because it’s frickin’ hilarious: What if Bertie Wooster was Batman? I can totally see Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry engaged in that conversation…