April 19th, 2006



I just met the worlds least convincing Jehova's. They were surprised I was at home (I work at home this morning), then asked me if they could leave me some reading material. I told them I wouldn't read it and hence it would end up on the old paper pile. They then decided to not donate them to me and continue their journey from door to door.

Have they changed their strategy?

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Michael Palin – Sahara (06-015)

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Sometimes a book takes ages to finish. Not because it is bad, not because it is very difficult, but somehow you just don’t get into it. This was one of those books.

Being a Python member, Palin always has the benefit of the doubt. His travel programmes on the BBC have had my undivided attention. Even stronger: my admiration. His only novel “Hemingway’s Chair” deserves a lot of praise.

Yet somehow his travelogues, accompanying the travel series, never really get to me. This is the second one I read, both times I was disappointed.

I know this is not how I should judge, but unfortunately Palin has worked on a lot of high quality work. This book is witty at times. Has some nice observations. Shows a good picture of the Sahara, an area I am still ignorant about. It has plenty of nice pictures as well. But it also has several behind the scenes revelations. And to be honest: I don’t want to know everything that happens after the camera stops rolling.

I was very disappointed to find out that the series has been shot on three (or more?) different trips. Call me cynical, call me naïve, but a travel programme that portrays a journey, should be shot in one journey, like he did on his first journey, following the famous footsteps of Phileas Fog.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t read over 250 pages if the book was bad, if it didn’t interest me. Palin’s words are certainly worth a go, they are just not as good as his acting career, his travels or his fiction. Which is not a problem.

He does have a brilliant website about his travels as well actually: http://www.palinstravels.co.uk

Number: 06-015
Title: Sahara
Author: Michael Palin
Language: English (UK)
Year: 2002
# Pages: 260 (2404)
Category: Travel
ISBN: 0-75381-739-X