This enthralling account details Alastair Humphrey’s epic journey across Africa, through Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya. His experience is at times brutal, and though he faces loneliness, despair, and harsh conditions, he also survives through trust in the kindness of strangers. Moods of Future Joys is the story of the first remarkable stage of the expedition. Just two weeks into the ride the September 11th attacks, and the war that followed, changed everything. All Humphreys' plans went out the window and, instead of riding towards Australia, he suddenly found himself pedalling through the Middle East and Africa and on towards Cape Town. But his journey did not end there. In fact, this was only the beginning... (from Amazon)
As befitting someone named “Alastair Humphreys,” Moods of Future Joys is written in the style of a travel memoir from an older time, like the 1960s or something. It’s philosophical, emotional, more focused on the personal emotional journey than the how-to and the why-fors, and because it was free I won’t be too much of a grouch.
I’ve read worse travel memoirs, and worse self-published books, and if you like travel narratives that are about more than who the author banged and where, you’d probably like this one. I wish there’d been more detail about the places AH visited; there’s roughly a whole year compressed into 250 pages, and while I suppose it’d be boring reading about “today I cycled another 50 miles and it was dusty” I still wish there was more than, well, what there was.
Which, I suppose, means that this is actually a very good book! It makes me want to know more about the author, about his travels, and it makes me want to read the next book, which covers the author’s journey around the rest of the world. Maybe the writing style threw me off a bit– it’s so WEIRD.
It doesn’t sound modern, but in an almost pretentious kind of way. It’s kinda like those people who dress up in smoking jackets and deer stalkers just because they like to pretend they live in the 1940s– it’s adorable, and lots of fun, but I wouldn’t want to spend twelve hours listening to that person try to talk like what they THOUGHT a person from the 1940s talked like. Know what I mean?
Possibly I’m just a big grump. If Moods of Future Joys had been written by some older dude (Stephen Fry, perhaps), I wouldn’t have any problem with the writing style. From an older person, it’s interesting. From a younger person, it’s a bit pretentious. But I still enjoyed it! I actually highlighted some favorite passages because I liked them so much. Example:
A sofa and a coffee are the finest travel companions one can have. Armchair travel is often more exciting than the real thing and always more comfortable. The only limit is your imagination. Don Quixote said that you can “journey all over the universe in a map, without the expense and fatigue, without the inconveniences of heat, cold, hunger and thirst.” Reading is cheaper than the real thing (though not when in hardback perhaps) and considerably more convenient. You can skip the boring parts, savour the good bits, laugh in the face of danger and drop ice cubes down the vest of fear. Sir, Madam, I applaud your choice! (p17)
It’s FUN, if you can get over the instinctive need to wonder if AH is actually a time traveller from the 1940s. I’m definitely going to read the next book, Thunder and Sunshine, especially since I just talked myself out of rating this book a two bird rating like I was going to originally.1
Read: March 9, 2013
- I have been rating a LOT of books 3 birds lately. I miss half-birds. I may bring them back. Extra detailed distinction is always nice, I think. Sometimes there’s a huge difference between a 3-bird book and a 3.5-bird book. ↩