West with the Night, Beryl Markham

DogEar ReadingChallenge

For Jeane’s Dog Ear Challenge: West with the Night was the nonfiction book on an obscure topic/on a topic you don’t often read about.  I had a broad selection of Jeane recommendations for this one, since she is always reading books that sound interesting but that I would never pick up on my own.

West with the Night is Beryl Markham’s memoir of growing up on her father’s farm in Africa, and becoming a horse trainer, and eventually learning to fly a plane.  Beryl Markham sounds like a pretty cool person, though from reading her Wikipedia article it sounds like you sure wouldn’t want to be married to her.  (She had an affair with the author of The Little Prince!)  And the writing was lovely, though a bit plummy for me.

One thing that didn’t really work for me was the fact that the memoir is composed of chapters that tend to provide slice-of-life-y anecdotes about her time doing different things.  I liked some of the anecdotes a lot, and some of them not so much, but I struggled to fit them into a narrative.  If my brain were a laptop, it would have made a lot of whirring noises and eventually overheated, that’s how hard I was trying to make an overarching story out of the chapters.  This isn’t necessarily a fault in the book, but I didn’t care for that structure – every time I got interested in something, the chapter ended, and the book went on to something totally else!

Now I am on to something totally else: In Defense of Food.  I understand the food being defended is generally vegetables?  Maybe this will make me love vegetables more, or maybe it will make me hungry for fast food – which is what happened, I’m sorry to say, when I read Fast Food Nation.  Mm, I fancy some cheesy fries right now.

Other reviews: Jeane’s, Framed and Booked, ChainReading

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14 thoughts on “West with the Night, Beryl Markham

  1. Pingback: DogEar Reading Challenge « Jenny's Books

  2. Pingback: West with the Night, Beryl Markham | Buy It For Less

  3. I’m so glad you liked it. I rather enjoyed the aspect of each chapter being its own story, as I felt it went into more details. what exactly do you mean by “plummy?”

    I hope you like the Michael Pollan book! I was just talking to my father-in-law about it, he read it recently.

  4. I suspect that Fast Food Nation and In Defence of Food would have the same effect on me. For some reason, reading about food always makes me extremely hungry, and not for the healthy kind either. Take Life as We Knew It, for example: thanks to all the bits about food and the lack thereof, when I wasn’t hiding under the covers in terror I was reaching for the cookies. I bet there must be an explanation for that.

  5. Food descriptions always make me hungry. Then again, I’m usually munching on something when I read (usually because I only have time to read at mealtimes). As for West with the Night, I’ve heard about it, and considered reading it, but if the end result is a broken laptop.. maybe at a later time, when I’ve got the fortitude for it 😛

    • My broken laptop simile was apparently startlingly effective. It might help if you went into it knowing that it’s a series of anecdotes, rather than a cohesive narrative.

  6. EVERYBODY had affairs with Antoine de Saint-Exupery. (And Roald Dahl, the big cad.) I know exactly what you mean about getting the laptop overheating: books that do that to me leave me exhausted and unsatisfied, even when I really like discrete parts.

    • When I first read this, I thought you were saying Roald Dahl had had an affair with Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I was super excited about that piece of literary gossip – but no, okay, I get it now. Roald Dahl & Antoine de Saint-Exupery, big cads.

  7. Hmm…I was overwhelmed by the plethora of facts in Fast Food Nation. I do enjoy reading those revealing truths but I am not rooted into the materials. I guess in general I’m not a big fans of non0fiction that caters toward facts and exposition.

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