bunn (bunn) wrote,

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A book: On the Shores of the Mediterranean

I have been rather swiftly skipping through  On the Shores of the Mediterranean by Eric Newby.   Can't quite remember how this ended up on my to-read shelf, but I picked it out because there is an Egyptian chapter and I thought it might have some handy local colour that I could steal, as I am trying to get my act together and get my Egyptian eagle-rbb story finished off.  (if it had rained, I would have done it today.  But there's still loads of time...   It is a pain researching Roman Egypt : everything you Google takes you back into Ancient Egypt, and it's very hard to tell if the Roman period was the same.  Sigh.  

Sadly, the book was little use for this as the Egyptian chapter was mostly about how the author bribed a policeman to visit the Great Pyramid early in the morning before it was officially open (because a proper travel writer does not mix with the common coach-travelling hoi polloi, obviously) ,

and found that someone had left a giant turd in the King's Chamber.  Lovely.   Inspired by this, he ignored the rule that says you are not supposed to walk up the pyramid, and went and stood on the top to think about the Mediterranean, but found you could not see it.  Well done Eric. 

He is quite an entertaining writer, particularly when he is covering the modern-day anecdotes he has observed himself, rather than regurgitating chunks of not-entirely thoroughly researched history.  And the book has a snappy pace - don't care for Antioch, or Jerusalem?  Don't worry, we will soon be off to the next place!    His sentences do go on and on, and often turn themselves into a non-sequitur.  And I can't help noticing that many of the peoples he meets (this was  in1983, I think) have women 'many of whom are exceedingly beautiful!'.  One particular set of women are so fine, he tells us, that 'they make excellent wives'.   Hmm.  Thankyou for that pearl, Eric. 

I am quite enjoying the book, despite the rambling and the non sequiturs and the exceedingly beautiful women, but I can't help wondering how one gets to be able to say 'Hmm!  Now I shall write a book about the Mediterranean!' and spend months travelling in a rather pleasant manner, in the sure and certain knowledge that when you have finished, the book will sell more than enough to cover your trip.   

Tags: books, eagle, writing


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