Fans of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry or anyone who likes books about books may want to check this one out. A pen pal relationship brings Sara from Sweden all the way to Broken Wheel, a dying town in the middle of nowhere with less than nothing to offer. And, Broken Wheel isn't the only death in question. Sara arrives just in time to attend the funeral of her pen pal, Amy. For years, Amy and Sara shared thoughts about their favorite books, relating characters and plots to their own lives. In that respect the book reminded me of 84 Charing Cross Road, a book that consistently makes my top 10 list of books to read and re-read. Broken Wheel is a book about stories - reading them, telling them and being in them. Predictable - yes, but still fun.
The real winner of the weekend turned out to be our book discussion selection for February and believe me, I was dreading this one. Something about the airplane on the cover suggested this would be a war story of sorts. Wrong. Apparently I should have known who Beryl Markham was but that's one more piece of cultural literacy that has eluded me. First surprise - Africa. Oh, how I love books and movies set in Africa. Second surprise - this isn't a chronological biography but more of an episodic memoir, almost stream of consciousness at times. Surprise number three - beautiful prose...and number four...this book garnered high praise from Ernest Hemingway.
Markham' storytelling skill drew me from page one and every couple paragraphs I find myself muttering "My life is so boring!" Then again, would I really want to be flying a prop plane in the dead of night with no visual guidance, or stalked daily by an obsessive zebra? Probably not. Vicarious living...not such a bad thing.
Beryl Markham is self-deprecating, funny, bold and poetic. I am reading slowly to make the book last longer.