Monday, 3 September 2007

Holiday Reading

I was reading a fellow MP's blog before I came away, which gave a comprehensive account of his summer holiday in Tuscany, right down to recommending which vintage wines he'd sampled and a very long list of worthy and weighty tomes he'd taken with him to read. I can’t come up with anything to rival that, not least because I don’t drink, but I did bring a couple of topical books with me.

“The Last King of Scotland” is, of course, about Uganda during Idi Amin’s time. It’s a good enough read, but I’d have preferred more politics and less surgery. At one moment Idi Amin is sending ridiculous telegrams to the Queen and Margaret Thatcher; at the next, Uganda is being invaded by Tanzania, and it’s not quite clear why or how it all happened. My pet hate is when authors betray too obviously in a book when they’ve been doing their homework to give their characters credibility: in this case, with the central character being a doctor, there are long and – I think – unnecessary descriptions of surgical procedures. It would have been interesting to have had a bit more about what was going on in Uganda during Amin’s reign of terror, but I don’t suppose that was the point of the story.

After that I borrowed Bret Easton Ellis’ “Rules of Attraction” from the VSO library, which I thought was stupid and pointless (I thought American Psycho was not great but OK; this was a lot worse). Then I borrowed Julian Barnes’ “History of the World in 10-and-a-half Chapters” which started off OK but soon got boring.

The one I’ve been saving for my journey home, is Ishmael Beah’s “The Long Walk Home”, which is a true account of his life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone and how, after being rescued, he managed to rebuild his life, with remarkable success. Over 25,000 children have been abducted into the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda and I’m sure there are many parallels in their experiences, although sadly not in the final outcome. But that’s for the flight home – I’m now meeting up with three parliamentary colleagues for some official business, on the last leg of my travels.

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