Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Long Way Round - Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman

This is the second motorbike-related book I've reviewed, which is odd for someone who's never actually been on one. This is, of course, the book of the brilliant TV series, where Boorman & McGregor ride from London to New York via Mongolia and Siberia. I have a strange fondness for Central Asia and I love this sort of travel-adventure tale, so despite already owning the DVDs I had to buy the book as well, in case they'd missed anything out. As it turned out, there wasn't a lot of new detail in here, but at least it had the advantage of being more portable than a DVD player so I could read it on the train.

The awesomeness of the trip just about makes up for the crappiness of the writing, but it was a close call. I wasn't expecting great literature, but this is clumsy ghostwriting at its worst, with a stilted narrative obviously cobbled together from interviews, and dialogue copied down from the film footage. I appreciate it can't be easy to take a rambling verbal travel tale and mould it into some kind of structure while still sticking to the actual words spoken, but the result was often tooth-grindingly bad; ghostwriter Robert Uhlig is no Peter Fleming.

The tale was told from the alternating viewpoints of Boorman and McGregor, though obviously with the same writer doing both, it was hard to tell the difference between them. Generally there wasn't much overlap, making the story strictly linear, though occasionally when the viewpoints switched, you'd get the same quarrel viewed from both sides - always entertaining. I was hoping for more of that but unfortunately it was rather precluded by the structure. Still, it was great to go through the journey again, from their rather whingy rookie-traveller beginnings to the river-crossing adventures on the Road of Bones. I'd still prefer to watch the DVDs, but for when that's not an option, the book is an adequate substitute.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a pity that the second series, Long Way Down, didn't match the excellent first series.


2:18 pm  

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