He wrote the first bestselling travel books which inspired Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels, and gave us many new words from barbeque, chopsticks, cashew and avocado to sub-species. He has more than 1,000 words in the OED. He circumnavigated the world three times and visited all 5 continents. He visited the Galapagos 150 years before Darwin and Australia 80 years before Cook. He described plants and animals never seen by a European. Nelson’s sailors studied his Discourse of Winds, Tides and Currents. He was quoted by Darwin, Nelson, Humboldt and Cook. He documented the effects of marijuana, described how soy sauce was made and drank the Spanish version of a cappuccino. He rescued Alexander Selkirk.
His burial site is unknown and he is largely forgotten. Continue reading ‘An Exact Observer of all things in Earth, Sea and Air’
Here is a book of ninety-nine stories and a dozen essays about authors mostly forgotten. In a preface entitled Why are Good Authors Forgotten?’ Fowler begins, Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead. He has had to whittle down four hundred possible entries, and stick to novels and short stories to get the material for this fascinating little book. Continue reading The Book of Forgotten Authors- Christopher Fowler
A lovely little vignette of family life in Shirley Jackson’s Raising Demons:
Continue reading Shirley Jackson: Raising Demons
Gert recently learned of the Darwin Awards, given to people ‘who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it’. Continue reading Darwin Awards
We meet Ivory Frame, the protagonist of Sopinka’s tale when she is aged ninety-two but still receiving surprises from life. And what a life it’s been. Being at first passionate about painting she has devoted the greater part of her life to recording the languages of animals…before they all become extinct. Continue reading The Dictionary of Animal Languages: Heidi Sopinka
Here in Melbourne we are in the first week of winter. After experiencing heavy rains, we are now shivering in crisp sunny cold weather.
Let us celebrate the rain with three haiku by Yosa Buson (1716-1783) translated by W S Merwin and Takako Lento Continue reading Winter