Book choice for May 2009

The Full Montezuma [suggested by Ellie Liddle]

front cover

Peter Moore is a travel journalist and radio broadcaster from Sydney; this side of the globe he's probably best known for The Wrong Way Home, a lively narration of his quixotic attempt to semi-circumnavigate the globe without stepping on a plane.

Moore's book The Full Montezuma is a moderately likeable, mildly intriguing first-person account of his travels in Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, and neighbouring countries, accompanied by - the Girl Next Door - a "spunky blonde in a chamois bikini". Together, and sometimes apart, the two of them bus, boat and taxi around the principal sites of central America and the Caribbean, enjoying and enduring a six-month long low-budget mini-Odyssey that variously involves hurricanes, civil wars, and insurgencies, as well as the more predictable Mayan cities, Aztec ruins, drunk American students, and importuning mariachi bands.

Stylistically, it has to be said Moore is not averse to the odd clich´┐Ż. "The zocalo has it all", "the highlight was the video", "the rest, as they say, is history", all occur in the opening chapters. Moore also fails to pull any "writerly" muscles trying to provide fresh information on the historical and political background. However, if all you require is an enthusiastic, undemanding, amiable companion on your armchair journey around a fascinating part of the world, this book could be just the ticket. [review from amazon]

The novel has a dedicated page on Moore's website.

About the Author

Peter Moore has a much better developed website than Alex Garland (*cough*) wherein the following amusing biography notes begin with:
The short version
Born 1962.
The long version
After a happy and carefree childhood on a five-acre farm on the outskirts of Sydney I attended Hurlstone Agricultural High School. Like most graduates of the Class of 1980 I still think about the pig we had to slaughter in Year Nine. Daily.

Read more on said biography page and/or check out his Wikipedia entry.


Shortlisted for this month

The nominator can bring one, two, or three books to be chosen by the group (or mandated in the case of only one book being selected).  This month, Ellie also brought the following selections:

The Beach

The Beach

The Khao San Road, Bangkok - first stop for the hordes of rootless young Westerners traveling in Southeast Asia. On Richard's first night there, in a low-budget guest house, a fellow traveler slashes his wrists, bequeathing to Richard a meticulously drawn map to "the Beach."

The Beach, as Richard has come to learn, is the subject of a legend among young travelers in Asia: a lagoon hidden from the sea, with white sand and coral gardens, freshwater falls surrounded by jungle, plants untouched for a thousand years. There, it is rumoured, a carefully selected international few have settled in a communal Eden.

Haunted by the figure of Mr. Duck - the name by which the Thai police have identified the dead man - and his own obsession with Vietnam movies, Richard sets off with a young French couple to an island hidden away in an archipelago forbidden to tourists. They discover the Beach, and it is as beautiful and idyllic as it is reputed to be. Yet over time it becomes clear that Beach culture, as Richard calls it, has troubling, even deadly, undercurrents.

Spellbinding and hallucinogenic, The Beach is a look at a generation in their twenties, who, burdened with the legacy of the preceding generation and saturated by popular culture, long for an unruined landscape, but find it difficult to experience the world firsthand.

The book has its own Wikipedia page.

About the Author

Biographical notes about Alex Garland are few and far between. He does not have his own website, has a rudimentary mention on Fantastic Fiction and a stub entry on Wikipedia.

Perhaps the most complete biography of him is on the alumni pages of Manchester University.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

In all Mildred D. Taylor's unforgettable novels she recounts "not only the joy of growing up in a large and supportive family, but my own feelings of being faced with segregation and bigotry." Her Newbery Medal-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry tells the story of one African American family, fighting to stay together and strong in the face of brutal racist attacks, illness, poverty, and betrayal in the Deep South of the 1930s. Nine-year-old Cassie Logan, growing up protected by her loving family, has never had reason to suspect that any white person could consider her inferior or wish her harm. But during the course of one devastating year when her community begins to be ripped apart by angry night riders threatening African Americans, she and her three brothers come to understand why the land they own means so much to their Papa. "Look out there, Cassie girl. All that belongs to you. You ain't never had to live on nobody's place but your own and long as I live and the family survives, you'll never have to. That's important. You may not understand that now but one day you will. Then you'll see."

Twenty-five years after it was first published, this special anniversary edition of the classic strikes as deep and powerful a note as ever. Taylor's vivid portrayal of ugly racism and the poignancy of Cassie's bewilderment and gradual toughening against social injustice and the men and women who perpetuate it, will remain with readers forever. Two award-winning sequels, Let the Circle Be Unbroken and The Road to Memphis, and a long-awaited prequel, The Land, continue the profoundly moving tale of the Logan family. (Ages 9 and older) [review from amazon]

The novel has a Wikipedia page.

About the Author

Taylor, Mildred D. (b. 1943), writer of children's fiction, hailed for her realistic portrayal of the African American experience. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, at a time when African Americans were fighting overseas for liberties they did not possess at home, Mildred Delois Taylor and her family fled the South when she was scarcely three months old to prevent a violent confrontation between a white man and her father, Wilbert Lee Taylor.

Read more of the above extensive biography at or check out her entry on Wikipedia.


Previous Months' Book Choices

April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006