15 Following


I read widely and in most genres but romance and westerns. Here you'll find my reviews since 2007, with a few reviews of previously read books as well.


In 2012, I completed an "authors of the world" challenge, reading a book for every country (and a few other entities) by someone who'd lived there for at least two years. I expect to tag these books by challenge and country in the near future. I'm still refining my list by adding books that better meet my challenge criteria.

Oman Under Arabian Skies: An Arabian Odyssey - Rory Patrick Allen Oman. Such an earnest book, yet so poorly written. It's self-published, as are many I'm reading for this challenge. Here the problem is not typos or formatting but a melange of incorrect usage, grammar errors, and what I can only describe as warped paragraphs that suddenly twist on themselves and go elsewhere. There are piles of sentences only nominally related to each other. I wouldn't care, but the author was an English teacher. There are incorrect quotations: Revenge is not, as he gives it, a dish best eaten cold, nor does Shakespeare have anything to do with it. Jung has nothing to say about collective unconsciousness, though that is sometimes what this book induced in me.What sort of English teacher, and for whom? I'm not entirely sure. Though he'll expend a paragraph on acts like getting a coffee, he's very vague about himself: How old is he? Why did he leave the UK for Oman? Was he only teaching technical English to Omani? Who employed him (as an apparently civilian instructor) and by which military was he employed? What was his work life like? Why did he leave his first base and move to the second? When he believed himself to be possessed by a jinn, where does his often-asserted Christianity go? Most importantly, does he really see Oman, or only the fantasy Oman that confirms his stated conviction that it's like a Disney movie (hence, perhaps, his repeated references to Sinbad rather than Sindbad)? Does he see the Bedu and Omani, or does he see noble savages (he actually references Rousseau uncritically)? The generalizations induce wincing.The strongest passages in the book are about such mundane yet unfamiliar acts as killing scorpions or driving on sand. The travelogue aspect, which is the aspect lauded in the Omani press, is pleasant enough but overblown and not especially compelling. The poor writing repeatedly pulled me out of my engagement with his story, and the lack of meaningful personal detail didn't help. For self-publishing, the goal may be "to write down all my memories so when I am old I can recollect them," (p. 25), which I can't argue against. However, it's a far cry from literature. I finished this because I needed a book by a writer who'd lived in Oman for at least two years.