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Glimpses through the Forest: Memories of Gabon

A personal, somewhat overly romantic account of life far away from home.

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A former Peace Corps volunteer reminisces about life, love and the tropics during his three years in Gabon, where the people, the countryside and nature captured his heart.

For debut travel writer Gray, the coastal West African country of Gabon, a former French colony, was about the most extreme contrast to his native Montana he could have wished for. Tropical downpours, intense humidity, lush jungle and a tremendous variety of wildlife are the background to his daily existence as he helps develop a grade school education program. And the food—simple, deliciously fresh (such as fish grilled straight out of rivers), served in a variety of spicy sauces. Above all, the kindness and zest for life among the people enchant him most. They welcome him into their hearts and homes, and along the way, he finds that even without the material comforts of modern society, community bonds are cherished, and they enjoy life more than he could imagine. A wide-eyed Gray nearly bumps into a forest elephant, stares hippos in the eye, monitors sea turtles laying their eggs at night and nearly encounters a dangerous Nile crocodile. But not all was well during Gray’s posting. He witnesses a witchcraft tribunal, where an old, lonely woman was accused of transforming herself into different beasts and tormenting fellow villagers. After everyone was given the chance to have their say, the village elders pronounced their verdict, which was aimed at keeping harmony among the community. Steering clear of politics, Gray is careful to keep an open, objective mind about the customs. At the center of the country is oil revenue, but, with only passing references made to the presence of international companies, Gray’s efforts to avoid political controversy lead him to give no opinion on the matter—a shortcoming of this otherwise engaging portrait of a society caught between ancient and modern ways.

A personal, somewhat overly romantic account of life far away from home.  

Pub Date: May 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1935925309

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Peace Corps Writers

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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