Wednesday, 25 November 2015

WALTER RHEIN - RECKLESS TRAVELER (2015)


Synopsis/blurb…….

Reckless Traveler: an autobiographical novel of adventuring in South America, sure to delight anyone with a passport. > > Perú and beyond: Through the alchemy of travel, youthful folly may bring disaster or wisdom . . . and more. > > The instructional travel guide for aspiring backpackers: learn how to bribe police, avoid malaria, and find employment abroad -- and what to do (and not to do) when armed mercenaries detain your charter bus. > > Awaken your inner explorer with Walter Rhein's Reckless Traveler, expat tales from a decade of discovery.

Another bit of a reading departure for me with Walter Rhein’s Reckless Traveler, an amusing anecdotal diary of his adventures, both mundane and otherwise from spending 10 years in Peru.

I think I enjoyed it in part because it wasn’t full of dramatic episodes fraught with peril and danger. We just accompany Walter as he immerses himself in an alien culture and the difficulties that presents.

Problems with language and interpretation, meeting people, finding accommodation, navigating the city, acquiring the necessary bartering skills, adapting to the cuisine and coping with minor hindrances – bed bugs, mosquitos/malaria. Unavoidable interactions with immigration on a quarterly basis and the obvious delight petty bureaucrats worldwide seem to take from messing with those they purport to serve.

What comes across is the warmth of the Peruvian people in general and our narrator’s genial disposition, as well as a willingness to adapt. He learns the language – not itself without an odd experience or two; before subsequently supporting himself by teaching English.

Just an enjoyable all-round trip.  

One passage of prose – relating less to Peru and more a memory from his childhood – struck me.

In Lima, the day passed, while everything I did brought back some vivid recollection from childhood. 

A thousand forgotten images came alive. Memories long locked away, lost in a sense, came forth due to the strangeness of my new surroundings. The exotic culture of Peru shook my thought patterns free from where they had settled, and gave a new twist to anything and everything I could recall.

I basked in it.

I found that revisiting old memories changes their nature. The advantage of an adult perspective takes the sting out of old wounds. Words remembered as being spoken in anger are revealed, upon examination, to be no more than a friendly jest. Revisiting instances of harboured guilt often expose that the action was not taken as a cruelty. All our perceptions are magnified and distorted by the mists of memory. The passage of time reveals we are neither as good nor as evil as we might have come to believe.

Such exploration is liberating.

4.5 stars from 5



Walter Rhein is on Facebook here and Twitter - @swordreaver    

Walter Rhein was born in northern Wisconsin. After earning a degree in English literature, he began traveling and teaching English in various parts of the world. He currently splits his time between South America and Wisconsin. He has also written in the fantasy-sci-fi genre.

The author supplied me a copy of Reckless Traveler for review.                         

12 comments:

  1. Oh this is excellent - my son has just come back from travelling in Peru, looks like this would make him a great Xmas present!

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    1. Topical then! I kind of rushed my review, I meant to say, I've no particular hankering to visit South America really, but if I had the choice and the chance, Peru would have my vote.

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  2. A wonderful review. Please do pick up this book for your son, I'd be excited to read his thoughts as well!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the review.
      I'll second your request to Moira to buy the book, maybe two copies would be better - one for her, one for her son!

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    2. Ordered it straightaway, and it has already arrived! I glanced through it before putting it away for Xmas, and I'm sure he will love it.

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    3. Oh - happy days! I hope he (and you?) enjoy it when he reads it.

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  3. Sometimes those personal stories can be really engaging, Col. I'm glad this was one of them. Sounds like a very human sort of story, if that makes sense. Nice to stretch out of the ordinary everyday reading, too, at times...

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    1. Margot definitely an enjoyable departure from my usual!

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  4. Very interesting and I am glad you enjoyed it.

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  5. Col, thanks for a fine introduction to Walter Rhein and his book. I think, jack Higgins took me to South America a couple of times. His "The Last Place God Made," one of my favourite Higgins' novels, is set in Brazil and the rain forest.

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    1. Prashant, you're welcome. I do enjoy visiting countries in my reading, especially when it's doubtful I'll be setting foot there in real life.

      The author has another book which holds appeal - about a famous long distance skiing race held annually in the States - the Birkie. The TBR pile never gets any shorter....

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