view from the hill

A look at the elements and events that come into view from where I'm standing...
... the stuff that matters in this life. Some flicker and are gone in a matter of hours
only to live in memory, others become life long travelling companions, never far from reach.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Maps or Family Trees? notes on bookstore browsing

I realized the other day as I was wandering from one author to another in my circuit of the usual suspects, that I prefer books with maps to those with family trees. I guess there's something about journeys through space as opposed to journeys through time that's more tangible to me.

adventuresIn my browsing I've been leaning towards Latin America for a while now, and before this latest stint in London, I was sure our next big trip would be Central or South America. I've had The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll, by Alvaro Mutis by my bedside for a few years, occasionally checking in with the poor Gaviero in his travels. And I've found myself leafing through Fuentes, Llosa and Allende each time I'm in a bookshop. These voices are waiting for me to find them, and I know someday I'll go where they lead. But it was when I picked up – for the thousandth time – One Hundred Years of Solitude, that I realized the thing about maps and trees. So, I put the book down again – for the thousand and first time.

bagI'm still in a Middle Eastern frame of mind lately after finishing the Alexander Trilogy, and Shantaram. I've re-found the Saddlebag, by Rahiyyih Nakhjavani, and I've read some of the Clash of Fundamentalisms by Tariq Ali.

So the trees of the jungle will have to wait a while longer while I find my way out of the maps in the desert.

scheherI left the bookstore with Scheherazade, by Anthony O'Neill - a book with a map of ancient Baghdad inside the front cover.


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