Books by Tristan Jones

Released: Dec. 6, 1991

Companion volume to Jones's Saga of a Wayward Sailor (1979) and not a continuation of this season's To Venture Further (p. 1062). Saga was a song of love for women of the sea, while this self- styled work of ``fictionalized fact''—written in 1979 and displaying the author at his verbal richest—is a paean to the misfits who found refuge in Jones's company. We meet Jones in a downpour, aboard his ketch Cresswell, with his 170-pound British mate, Cecilia (``Sissie'') St. John—the Bishop of Southchester's sister—and his three-legged, one-eyed dog, Nelson. When St. John falls into the noisome harbor while helping a catamaran tie up, Jones turns ``to see poor Sissie's yellow oilskin jacket just below the oily, slimy surface, rising to float, flailing, in the muck- bestrewn, turd-flotilla'd, dog-corpse-littered waters of Ibiza Harbor.'' And so it goes, with Jones and St. John under dirty weather of gold-lined clouds. Their first big adventure is being hired to deliver a fancy yacht from Algiers to Marseilles. Once aboard, Jones finds that the owner is apparently an anti-Algerian terrorist and that his steel-hulled yacht must sail without papers, in the dead of night. They leave in a hail of bullets, chased by an Algerian gunboat. Eventually, Jones locks the owner below deck and gets away in a launch while the gunboat captures the terrorist. Enter St. John's loud-chortling brother, Bishop Willie, and millionaire ``art collector'' Elmyr Dore-Boutin, who shows Jones his huge cache of original Picassos, Dalis, Dufys and Renoirs- -though at book's end Jones visits Dore-Boutin in his tastefully appointed Ibizan jail cell and drinks his champagne: Dore-Boutin is actually the world's greatest forger. Good dialogue and great Jonesian prose, so dense you can walk on it and watch your tracks fill up with sea water. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 23, 1991

The bardic Welsh author and global navigator, who among his many mighty deeds has soloed across the Atlantic nine times (he's now in his mid-60s), finally abandons a task begun in Outward Leg (1986) and carried on in The Improbable Voyage (1987) and Somewheres East of Suez (1988)—and tackles an even greater challenge. In 1982, Jones lost his left leg to virulent gout. Finding himself among the disabled, he decided to do something so daring that all the world's disabled could take heart from it: He'd circle the globe in a trimaran. Three volumes of cresting over disasters have brought him thus far to Thailand and to the idea that his first idea was unsound. Few disabled folk can afford a boat like his; he needs to do something never done before by any sailor—an audacious, high-risk spiritual journey. In a small, cheap boat, he will cross the waterways of the Kra peninsula, which divides the Andaman Sea from the Gulf of Thailand. With money from a magazine article, he buys an old wooden 38-foot-long Thai boat. He already has a young German mate, Thomas (who later dies of a heart attack), and rounds up a crew of disabled, three-limbed young Thais. Getting through to this crew is like grappling linguistically with Martians, though a great rapport at last awakens. They set sail from Phuket on heavy seas in the monsoon season, since only then will the dry riverbeds of the Kra have water. If they capsize, most of the three-limbed on board will drown, including Jones, who has never learned to swim anyway. Before they arrive at Bangkok amid cheering throngs along the river's edge (part of the journey was captured on TV), the crew makes 38 portages over rocky rapids, are hauled along by an elephant, arrested as Cambodian refugees, attacked by bandits, and so on, all the while with Jones's thigh rubbed to raw meat and his foot horribly infected. A mad crawl—but marvelous. (Nine maps.) Read full book review >