Sandstorm – Henry Shukman.
OK, an interesting book. Well written, and a recommended read. I did read it pretty fast which is always a good point.
(I’ll just read to chapter ten, or fifteen or twenty etc and I was still reading).
Reviews on the back compared him with Greene, Maugham and Conrad. I don’t think so.
Faded cynical world-weary journalist (yes, I know, of course it attracted me!) reads about the death of a former lover in a newspaper and we are taken to a flashback of how they met as a young keen reporter and a photographer in Africa.
He is hungry for fame and stories and the front page, she is already thinking about going home to France to ‘settle down’.
Needless to state they have mad passionate sex. As people always do in books.
They also get a brilliant scoop on a war in the desert. There is lots of description of the desert.
In trying to get out of the place they manage to nearly get themselves drowned off the coast of Africa, but naturally make their way through huge waves of surf.
He goes back to London, she goes back to France, and they both pick up with their previous partners.
Her life works out ok, well, apart from dying from bone cancer at 53, his doesn’t.
He goes back to Africa for a news story and and is filmed driving off after a hit and run which ruins his career. Whereupon he ends up in New York getting nowhere fast. He reads about his former lover’s death in The Times and decides to go back to the desert.
It was a good read but for me, didn’t evoke the same imagery that Maugham and Greene do. And the plot was super fantastic. Life isn’t like that.
Stamboul Train – Graham Greene
Speaking of Greene, one of my book reading problems of late has been down to Mr G. Stamboul Train in fact.
It took me months to read it. I don’t know if it was because I scanned it quickly at one point to see how it was turning out or whether it was because it just had a huge aura of depression settled above it. And I love Graham Greene. Normally.
It was like Brighton boring Rock.
Chorus girl goes out to Istanbul hoping to make good, meets rich Jewboy on train and dreams of happy ever after.
Political activitist who had escaped from Yugoslavia goes back to Belgrade to start a revolution which happens before he gets there, fails, and he decides to stand trial and condemns himself to death.
Meanwhile, gin-swilling lesbian journo flits around the place chasing stories.
I mean, how gloomy can you get?
Orient Express train atmosphere: zilch.
Plot: complicated, too many strands.
Characters: good, credible, sadly realistic.
A recommended read? Of course if you want to depress yourself. Make sure you have a bottle of gin on hand to get through it.