Finally I’ve found a travel book so terrifying in its intensity that it rivals my all time favourite the Accursed Mountains. That book chartered the chaos, tribalism and horror of post Communist Albania and firmly removed it from my list of must see places. A true one off (or so I thought) in that you really worry for the narrator’s life.
In Bandit Roads Richard Grant, bored of his mundane life, travels into the nightmarish North-West of Mexico. Few tourists visit the area and those who do risk rape or death. It’s a hellish place, akin to the setting of the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, full of sons of whorish mothers (his words), corrupt officals, murderous drugs barons, drunken tribes of Indians and people who would kill him without a thought. It begins with him taking cover from a gang of drug dealers intent on his death and ends with him wanting to do nothing more than write about the homes of the rich and famous.
He can’t say he wasn’t warned. On seeing a life sized statue of Christ, he asks why the eyes are covered with stickers. ‘”Senor”, comes the reply” Our Lord has already seen enough of this world’s sufferings”‘.
A team of people from Christchurch City Libraries are attending the Christchurch Writer’s Festival and will be blogging and taking photos and interviewing the authors and others. The photos we will post to our Flickr set.
I am interested in anyone else who may be blogging, or adding photos to Flickr and if we can connect it all via a tag at technorati or Flickr. I would suggest the tag CWF08 – but you might also want to use a more human friendly one like Christchurch Writers Festival
I have had a brief look around to see who may already have blogged the festival already, and will make suggestions to them that they do this tagging.
As the Writers festival draws ever closer, we’ve added some new interviews to the website:
Joe Bennett: Knickers and prejudice
Our interviewer Richard delves into the genesis of Joe’s new book Where underpants come from. The book traces a five-pack of $8.59 man-skin grundies and a flash “special occasions” pair of Authentics, from The Warehouse in Eastgate, to the factories and cotton fields of China. The interview also looks at writing, libraries and the books that shaped Joe’s life.
For thirty years Paul Theroux has been for me the master of travel writing. Vain, critical and humourless his writings have still been a must and far superior to his fiction. He has criticised New Zealand, slagged off the English, made me reappraise the worthiness of aid to Africa and fostered my desire to see foreign climes, preferably from the window of a long distance train.
Now thirty-three years after his first travel masterpiece, The Great Railway Bazaar, he has decided to retake the train journey from London via Turkey, India, S.E. Asia and Japan and back on the Trans-Siberian. Continue reading →