Saturday, December 26, 2015

JUPITER’S TRAVELS by Ted Simon

JUPITER’S TRAVELS by Ted Simon is the mid-1970s travelogue of a man on a motorcycle who took four years of his life to ride around the world, some 64,000 miles on a Triumph. The effectiveness of such diaries depends on the ability of the writer to convey not just the details of what he sees, but his own unique interpretation of events, the feelings induced, and how he is changed by it all. Simon creates an epic account of his journey running almost 17 hours on audio, and it pulls no punches, making it an unvarnished document full of musings, philosophy, and commentary on the politics and briberies, the highs and lows…of being accused of spying, being lied to, and being a scapegoat for locals intent of having fun with the gringo (because they can.) Suffice it to say, this is not a trip anyone hearing is likely to attempt, although actor Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman tried in Long Way Round. There were numerous problems with the bike (perhaps a BMW would have been a better choice?) Plus running out of gas or water or food. At one point he is sent up a mountain in search of a meat “warehouse” by a man who had meat all along, and knew nothing was up there but barren wilderness. Mosquitoes and flies feasted on Simon. He met extreme poverty and wild beauty. He discusses the Latin American machismo, which (for him at the time) saw every male interloper as a challenge to virility. He reflects on how poor countries, once enslaved by Spain, are now being conquered by McDonalds and Coke, whose signs are everywhere, “like a new revenge.” Yet despite every possible threat and wrong done him, he is wiser for the trip, and glad he made it. The simple smiles of peasants and shy friends restore him. The vast acquaintance with nature lends valuable perspective. And for this audio trip (which will stay with you), narrator Rupert Degas, an award winning voiceover artist from Australia, interprets Simon’s spirit in such a way as to be completely believable. His accents are always spot-on, particularly the Aussie one. AUDIOBOOK OF THE MONTH 




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