Two Problems with Reading Beryl Markham

1. Her sentences are so terrific I want to underline one every few pages.  But I borrowed the my copy from the library.*

Take this one, for instance:

“Grey blades of light sliced at the darkness and within a few moments I could see the mining camp in all its bleak and somehow courageous isolation…”

That whole sentence lives on the unexpected jolt of courageous.  Stunning what one word (well-placed) can do.

2. She’s making me really want to fly planes again.  I flew a plane last June and cannot quite recover from it.  While I was up there, a bald eagle flew between my wing and the shadow-splotched fields.  It was utterly exhilarating for that and a hundred other reasons…  I would love to fly again, but even to get my license would be prohibitively expensive.  (Great research, though, when writing a book about pilots.)

Beryl isn’t making it any easier to recover with paragraphs like these:

“…to fly in unbroken darkness… is something more than just lonely.  It is at times unreal to the point where the existence of other people seems not even a reasonable probability.  The hills, the forests, the rocks, and the plains are one with the darkness, and the darkness is infinite.  The earth is no more your planet than is a distant star — if a star is shining; the plane is your planet and you are its sole inhabitant.”

Seriously, if you haven’t read this book yet, you should.

*  If I do wind up caving and buying a copy, it seems like a book best purchased a little worn, well-used.


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