West with the Night

I had numerous reasons for choosing Beryl Markham’s West with the Night for discussion. The first of these is that I really enjoy adventure narratives, and historically they have been well received by our group. Second, West with the Night consistently ranks high on many best of adventure literature lists. Finally, given that the group is predominantly female, I figured that it was time to examine the life and literature of an adventure seeking woman of epic accomplishment.

In light of these factors, I was certainly psyched for The Crandall Public Library Monday Evening Book Discussion Group’s August 20, 2012 exploration of Ms. Markham’s most mesmerizing memoir. As it turns out, all in attendance were quite pleased with the work, with many complimenting its poetic prose and masterful use of metaphor. Several in attendance had done considerable research, and shared information not found within the pages of West with the Night. For example, it was revealed that Ms. Markham joined the U.S. Civil Air Patrol, and helped keep the California coast safe during WW II. What a remarkable woman! In any case, the conversation traveled in many directions, and highlights include:

  • Rumors of Ghost Writing
  • Memoir versus Biography
  • The Land as Alive
  • Africa and the Arts
  • The Maasi as Mentors
  • Animal Cruelty
  • Women as Warriors
  • Cinematic Tributes



Photo Gallery

Karen Blixen on Baryl Markham

The Journal of African Travel-Writing Article

Film Footage

6 Must Read Tales of Epic Adventure

William Least Heat Moon once quipped that we ought to “be careful going in search of adventure – it’s ridiculously easy to find.”  Well, that’s certainly true at the library, and the works listed below, all of which feature courageous women, are proof positive of such a notion.

Amelia Eerhart by Doris L.Rich

Annapurna: A Woman’s Place by Arlene Blum

Terra Incognita by Sara Wheeler

 Tracks by Robyn Davidson

Travels in West Africa by Mary Kingsley

My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neel

Movie Watch

I recently had the great pleasure of watching the The Snow Walker, which depicts a young couple pitted against the elements in a fierce struggle for survival.  Talk about a strong woman!  Even better, the library system has numerous copies.  You can find more info here.

Local Color

Group member Joy “Fireball” Huott recently sent a link detailing five works that NPR has selected as great choices for book discussion groups.  You can check it out here.  Also, while you’re out there cruising the information super highway, why not check out Joy’s goodreads page.

Parting Thoughts…

As ever, I am certainly looking forward to our next get together, which is slated for September 17, 2012.  We’ll be chatting about Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety.  Mr. Stegner is a winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.  In any case, I think that following blurb from Barnes and Noble sums up the work in enticing and succinct fashion:

Two couples form a lifelong bond, sharing loyalties, tragedies, & conflicts. Remarkable for its wit, insight, & luminous writing, this novel of family friendship from the author of Angle of Repose is “A superb book…”– The New York Times Book Review


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