Saturday, August 02, 2008

Giles Foden: Mimi and Toutou's Big Adventure

Giles Foden is funny. He knows his subject, the British folly- sending two ships over sea and over land (and over railroads and over mountains) in order to sink a German ship on a distant African lake- is a humorous story, and he's not afraid to make jabs at the past. He knows his protagonist (of sorts), Spicer-Simpson, is a bumbling ne'er-do-well, and he is not afraid to portray him as such. And that is the saving grace of this book that could otherwise be a long New Yorker article. It is, as the subtitle States, a "bizarre" part of history that I was pleased/bemused/surprised to read about. But about 30 pages in, I found myself reading with my eyes closed after a paragraph of reading about it. Night after night. And then we got to the end of the story, Spicer-Simpson goes back to England, and there are still 50 pages left. I didn't really want to hear about the movies made about the event, or about Foden's travels in Africa. Separate story, really. Interesting part of history, boring book.