What an absolutely bonkers month. September was…How to describe September? The family had a reunion of sorts. The island suffered its fifth shock of the season with a quadruple murder. Running was another head-scratcher as I officially resumed physically therapy for my twisted hips. But. But, But! I was able to log over 30 miles. Nowhere near the 70+ I wanted, but it’s something. At least I haven’t stopped entirely. And the reading? Here are the books:
- Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (AB/print)
- The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman
- Burton And Speke by William Harrison (fictionalized history/historical fiction…whatever)
- My Dream of You by Naola O’Faolain (AB/print)
- O Jerusalem! by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre – Confessional: didn’t quite get all the way through this)
- Everybody was so Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy, a Lost Generation Love Story by Amanda Vaill
- Living Well is the Best Revenge by Calvin Tomkins
- Passions Spin the Plot by Vardis Fisher
- Henry James: the Treacherous Years (1895 – 1901) by Leon Edel
Early Review for LibraryThing:
- Boat Runner by Devin Murphy (fiction!)
Harrison, William. Burton and Speke. New York: St. Martin’s, 1982.
Reason read: September is National Curiosity Month. What better way to satisfy curiosity than to go exploring the source of the Nile?
Richard Francis Burton was a legendary adventurer who also had a reputation for being a great lover. John Hanning Speke also had a reputation for being an adventurer and a lover, albeit of a different kind. When they first met, Speke needed Burton in order to get to Africa. Luckily, Burton was already going that way. Burton’s mission in Somaliland was in four parts:
- Discourage slavery
- Establish a camp for later use
- Search for gold
- “Examine” the women to study their sexual practices
As with any expedition into the unknown, Burton and Speke encounter many trials and tribulations. More often than not, their equipment and supplies were either being broken or getting lost. Crews and guides were constantly deserting them. It didn’t help that Burton and Speke couldn’t be more different from one another when it came down to leading the expeditions. Burton prided himself on his intellect, especially when it came to native languages across the regions. (He would go on to translate Arabian Nights and The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana.) He had an understanding of the necessity of breaking down language barriers. Instead of brains, Speke valued his brawn, his hunting capabilities and his sheer physical strength. While Burton sought the company of many different beautiful women, Speke wouldn’t turn away a pretty boy. Their differences soon drove them apart and made them fierce rivals. In the end, it was Speke who discovered the source of the Nile but because he lacked the scientific evidence to explain how this came to be he was ridiculed and almost discredited. Richard Burton became faithful to one woman and became an anthropologist.
As an aside, I liked manservant End of Time’s name. That’s it – End of Time.
A cringe worthy moment – when the beetle crawled deep inside Speke’s ear and he went mad trying to dig it out with a knife.
Quote I liked, “Aloofness was a bore – especially when practiced amidst life’s frailties” (p 133).
Author fact: Harrison has written a bunch of other works, but this is the only one I am reading.
Book trivia: Confessional: I thought this was a nonfiction before I received the book.
It’s actually a historical novel.
Nancy said: Burton and Speke tries to solve an age-old debate of who found the source of the Nile.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Explorers” (p 85). Pretty straightforward.
September starts out with sunny skies and a promise of a return to normalcy. What is “normal” anyway? I’m hoping to run without pain (have a whopping 72 miles scheduled). I’m also hoping to get back on track with the reading:
- Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald – in honor of F Scott Fitzgerald’s birth month.
- O Jerusalem! by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
- Burton and Speke by William Harrison – in honor of September being Curiosity Month (and isn’t that what exploring as all about, being curious?)
- Living Well is the Best Revenge by Calvin Tomkins – in honor of F Scott Fitzgerald’s birth month (& the reading of Tender is the Night)
- Everybody was So Young by Amanda Vaill – in honor of F Scott Fitzgerald’s birth month (& the reading of Tender is the Night)
- Passion Spins the Plot by Vardis Fisher – to continue the series started in August in honor of the day Butch Cassidy robbed a bank in Idaho.
Early Review for LibraryThing:
- The Boat Runner by Devin Murphy (the first fiction I have received in a long time!)
Rice, Edward. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: the Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990.
Doesn’t the subtitle of this book just about rope you in? If the subtitle doesn’t do it for you, how about the man himself? Explorer, scientist, secret agent man? Capable of speaking 29 different languages, supposedly most of them in their proper dialect. Thought to be a Gypsy. If anything, Burton should have the title of Most Interesting Man. He inherited his father’s wanderlust and would often move his family without reason. And, what about that Kama Sutra? Come again? In all fairness, I couldn’t finish the book. Interesting man or not, the writing just wasn’t. This is a classic case of “Did Not Finish.”
Reason read: Burton died in the month of October
Book trivia: There are a few photographs in Sir Richard Burton. Pity there weren’t more – Burton was an interesting looking fellow.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Star Trekkers” (p 222).