Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Bad Time to Bog Down

Of all the months of the year in which to bog down in a book, NaBloPoMo is probably the worst. Yet that's what's happening to me right now. Normally, I don't "bog down" in books. If it's not engaging, I pull out the bookmark and go on to the next book. But this book is different. It's by Tony Horwitz.

His other two books have been awesome. I just wrote about the one. His other book is a journey through the lands that Captain Cook explored. He visited Australia, Tahiti, Tonga, the obscure country of Niue, and Hawaii. He also went to Cook-related sites in England and met with Cook scholars and enthusiasts. He spent time on a ship designed to give modern people the experience of life at sea in the 1700s (he said it was very difficult and uncomforatble). What I loved about his books was the way he showed the connections between the present and the past. He spoke with people who had been directly influenced by the Civil War and by Cook's journey's, for better or for worse. He got inside of the heads of the people who'd lived the initial events through primary sources, explored the gaps between modern perception and their lived reality, and was able to paint a picture that included everybody.

This book is about the conquistadores and the discovery and settlement of the New World. But so far, the modern people are not in the story much. Or maybe it's that the people he's met just aren't as memorable. I read the other two books very quickly. It's taken me over a week to get halfway through his new one, A Voyage Long And Strange. I do intend to keep going with it, but why, why did I have to pick it up during NaBloPoMo?

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