Tag Archives: Adventure

Jack London On Adventure

jack

Jack London On Adventure –
Words Of Wisdom From An Expert Adventurer
Skyhorse Publishing – $12.99

The thought of work was repulsive. I didn’t care if I never settled down. Learning a trade could go hang. It was a whole let better to royster and frolic over the world in the way I had previously done. So I headed out on the adventure path again.

                                                                        ‘The Artist As Adventurer’

Obviously written during an era when adventure was a complete and all circumnavigating way of life, one which was undeniably, deeply instilled within the fibre of ones’ being – rather than subscribed to by those who merely dabble in misadventure over the weekend – the writer Jack London certainly lived the life.

A life of his own design that is; which, regardless of how you care to look at it, was in and of itself, commendable.

Indeed, throughout his unfortunately brief life, he remained a free spirit of which Jack London On Adventure – Words Of Wisdom From An Expert Adventurer is something of a literary window, as the above opening segment wonderfully illustrates.

As opposed to being a mere linear overview of London’s entire works, this handsome little book is devised in such a way that it more dabbles and regales upon certain eras of London’s literary prowess: ”This gave them the seeming of ghostly masques, undertakers in a spectral world at the funeral of some ghost. But under it all they were men, penetrating the land of desolation and mockery and silence, puny adventurers bent on colossal adventure, pitting themselves against the might of a world as remote and alien and pulseless as the abysses of space.”

I have recently been asked to write the Foreword for a terrific new book on London entitled The Iron-Heeled Century: Rereading Jack London by the author, Anthony James; and amid my investigation(s), this is a fine and altogether brazen read – rather like the subject himself.

One which sheds oodles of light on an oft misunderstood, underrated writer (of whom George Orwell, among others, was a renowned fan).

David Marx

Seldom Seen

seldom seen

Seldom Seen
By Sarah Ridgard
Hutchinson – £14.99

‘’I should never have started crawling around in ditches, kicking up people’s secrets. I used to be afraid that if I tripped and fell, I’d crack my head open and they’d spill out everywhere. The stuff I knew, the secrets. That they’d lie on the road in shock for a moment, trying to get their bearings, until some got caught up in a gust of wind while others went crawling off under hedges, into ditches to wash up in people’s back gardens, or in the gutter outside the village shop for all to see.’’

And so we are introduced to Desiree White, a quiet girl, living with her own thoughts, secrets and fantasies. When she finds the body of a newborn baby wrapped in newspaper in a nearby ditch, a chain of deceits unfold, whereby we are taken on a colourful, crazy journey amid the trials and tribulations of a small Suffolk community.

So, to cut to the chase, I loved this book.

Considering Sarah Ridgard’s Seldom Seen is a debut novel, it really is extremely imaginative; especially wherein the authoress decides to name the prime protagonist and her siblings after various varieties of potato! This in itself is just a tad daring, if not inventive, to say the very least.

Rammed with discerning observation and a number of characters that delicately flit between both the past and the present, the book is imbued with a tremendous feeling of (coquettish) innocence, laced with a certain lightness of touch that really is a pleasure to read.

The first example of this comes to light within the chapter entitled ‘The Swan’: ‘’I’d stumbled across them in the van one night, not far from our house, hidden by a sugar-beet clamp. Pam was sitting astride Bernie in the passenger seat, her head squashed up against the ceiling, half hidden by the name sticker on the windscreen that said it should have been Janice sitting on Bernie, not her. And she was laughing like I’d never heard her laugh before. The tassels on her leather jacket were shuddering with every gust of laughter. She’d pinned Bernie’s arms down on to the seat with her knees, and was tickling him in the face with the tassels on her breast pocket. He couldn’t move. All he could do was snap at the tassels with a crack of his teeth like a dog going after flies. She teased him till he couldn’t bear it any longer and he got hold of one of the tassels between his teeth and ripped it off.’’

The second example of aforesaid lightness of touch, delicately leaps out of a chapter called ‘The See-Through House’: ‘’Stan pulled up outside the house just as I’d finished getting ready upstairs, and pressed the horn. For a moment he looked as if he was going to stay in the car and wait for Cheryl to come to the window, Cheryl Capon, his first love, with her hair all frizzed up and an empty can of hairspray on her dressing table. But he didn’t look up at my window. Instead he checked his hair in the mirror and got out of the car, looking all serious as if he was going for a job interview. He ran a hand around the waistband of his trousers, making sure his shirt was tucked in all the way round. Halfway up the path he must have realised that his trousers were still too loose, because he undid his belt, gave it a quick jerk from side to side, and buckled himself up again.’’

It’s the little attention to detail, like the snapping at Pam’s tassles, and Stan rebuckling his belt that set such a vivid image in the readers’ imagination – subsequently making this a very pleasurable read.

Seldom Seen is one of those novels that doesn’t shout terribly loud, simply because it doesn’t need to; although what it (silently) says, sticks in the mind.
As such, here’s looking forward to Ridgard’s second instalment.

David Marx