Saturday, August 19, 2006

Book comparison: Dark Star Safari compared to my own book.

Paul Theroux writes captivating descriptions, putting the reader right in Africa. He has a knack of creating the perfect scene with simplicity, using a phrase or keyword to make the scenery jump to life.
In Dark Star Safari, his tone can be summed up from his first page, and even sentence. "All news out of Africa is bad." He carries this negative outloook throughout the book, intriguing the reader by the same means popular talkshows do when showcasing the lives of disturbed people.
His anger and frustration with the African continent and nearly every aspect of African life comes through time and again. As does his disdain for charity workers through hostile run-ins with them, and even more so, in his reminiscing about the changes since his days as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the 1960's, when he worked hard to make a tiny improvement. His return shows disappointment after disappointment, and he leaves you with the feeling that helping Africa was and is a complete waste of time.

In contrast to my book. One of my strengths over Theroux is humour. Compared to Theroux's constant negativity, I mix the bad with the good and create stronger friendships and relationships with both locals and other travellers.
To me, most Africans I met had intriguing stories, and I managed to pull one or two out of them. I also tried to show more of Africa's beauty than Theroux, through portraying my wonderful experiences, as well as my awful ones.
Theroux tends to have interesting connections in Africa such as the president of Uganda, prisoners of war, and his old Peace Corps contacts.
Where as I get to know random people who could sometimes turn out an incredible story.
While I admire Theroux's flair for description, I feel as though he plays the negative reinforcement of Africa's woes card too much. The reader is left depressed and pessimistic about the continent. I try to balance the two entities, the good and the bad of Africa, often in a tongue in cheek manner to make the reader laugh at it's quirks.

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