Wednesday 9 July 2014

Eight Men and a Duck by Nick Thorpe

In the non-fiction book Eight Men and a Duck, a journalist has a chance encounter with a confident, gung-ho adventurous American, and decides to join the American's quest to cross from Chile to Easter Island in a reed boat, inspired by Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki adventure (which never actually landed on Easter Island).

The book reads like someone telling a yarn to his mates. It's chummy, everyone's improvising, a bit inept, and hugely reliant on luck. The quest is about as wise, responsible and well-prepared as the adventures in the Hangover movie series, but there's less humour.

It's not really a scientific thing: it's people having an adventure for adventure's sake.

Once the only vaguely skilled person left the team (frustrated with his companions' habit of winging it and lack of preparation / forethought, and the resulting delays), the narrative lost a lot of interest for me. Basically, I didn't really like any of these guys all that much, as I could not respect them.

It's not a bad book, but it doesn't really have anything much to say: A bunch of bumbling young men seek adventure and succeed mostly through luck. The end.

Rating: 3/5

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