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on June 24, 2012 :
I enjoyed this quick and lively book immensely. It contains a wealth of descriptive (not to mention informative) narrative throughout, without once being labored or pedantic. The characters are entirely believable (if not entirely lovable) and their dialogue sometimes witty, sometimes witless, but always and ever engaging.
Archer, the main character, comes across as a somewhat confused and sometimes even pathetic character, believing somehow he is adhering to the Hemingway code by implementing a personal campaign against cruelty to animals. His ethic requires that he not eat any amount of meat or animal-product, which in the course of the story presents challenges (sexual and otherwise) for this would-be Hemingway hero; it occurs to me perhaps the author is suggesting the wryest of comparisons to Jake Barnes, who is after all an authentic Hemingway hero (if a rather odd one in some respect, given the popular conception of what that entails.)
There are echoes of The Sun Also Rises (and other works) resonating throughout, and the reader with a grounding in Hemingway will no doubt appreciate the clever and deft manner in which Mathew Asprey works them into his story. But the story also stands firmly on its own, and I would recommend it to anyone who has a good sense of humor and is not squeamish to read about boorish behaviour and bodily functions.
(review of free book)
on Feb. 08, 2012 :
“Red Hills of Africa” is somewhat in the vein of Malcolm Bradbury/David Lodge satires on academic life - but with a lot more international travel involved. There was one particular passage about going through customs and immigration in Morocco which was so funny it nearly made me choke on my beer. I have committed the lines to memory in case I ever go there (although I don’t suppose I will have the nerve to actually say them to a Moroccan passport official….). It's well written and I enjoyed it, although overall, I preferred Matthew Asprey’s other novella, “Sonny’s Guerrillas” – for a longer review of that, see:
(review of free book)