& occasionally about other things, too...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Adventures with Camera and Pen

Anthony Dalton is a great speaker. I heard him recently at an event organised by BookLand Press, the publisher of his book Adventures with Camera and Pen

Anthony is a natural storyteller in the oral tradition and can hold his audience spellbound for hours, talking about his excursions across the world. 

His talk at Ben McNally Books was peppered with fascinating anecdotes – from being guided to safety by a penguin on Falkland Islands or walking through a minefield.  

I've just finished reading Adventures with Camera and Pen.  

Anthony is a great writer, too.  And let me explain what I mean by that. In today’s world, travel is commonplace, even to unaccessible and exotic places. 

There are many who fancy themselves as great travel writers. A million websites are a testimony to such fallacious thinking.

But, merely traveling and then writing about the travel doesn’t make the writing interesting. For that the writer should depict word pictures and successfully transport the reader in time and to place so that the s/he is able to live the adventures vicariously.

Anthony does this with alacrity and fineness; yet his prose is simple, straightforward and easy to read and enjoy. His adventures – which include a trip to Timbuktu, walking along Schelde, a roadtrip to Ghazni, a boat ride on Sitilakhya in Sunderbans, and yatching across the Panama Canal – kept me interested often because of his deadpan style.

However, for me the most fascinating part of the book was Anthony’s adventures in Canada. I’ve been here 20 months, but I've not been able to travel outside Toronto (except a trip to Niagara Falls). This is true for most newcomers. 

What I haven’t been able to afford to do because of my preoccupation with life, Anthony does for me, and then narrates his experiences in a deft, unobtrusive manner.

His trips to the Canadian Arctic and risky encounters with musk oxen, to rock climbing and photographing the Bugaboo range, and fishing expeditions in Manitoba gave me more than a glimpse of this in this vast and varied land.

The best piece in the book is his adventure on the Niwhaniwha, his home made boat. I won’t ever do it, but I sure know what it feels like to be riding the surf in a boat. 

Sample this: “For a fraction of a second we balanced on top, with the outrigger just skimming the rock, I learned forward as Bruce drove his paddle hard and down the slope we went. Our stomachs caught up with us a few moments later.”

BookLand Press’ Robert Morgan, publisher of Anthony's book, was also present at the reading session and gave his own insights into the difficult business of publishing.

Image: Invitation from BookLand Press

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