Exuberant—and funny—without neglecting the seriousness of surviving a year of love and war.

India Charm Offensive

AN EXPAT PILOT FLIES THE SOUTH ASIA JUNGLE

An American helicopter pilot recounts his first year flying over the jungles of India.

Sobotta’s debut memoir kicks off on a Korean-owned fishing boat in the southwestern Pacific, where he flies a helicopter to aid the crew in its hunt for tuna. But poor safety standards and slapdash repairs to his aircraft make him uneasy, and he enthusiastically leaves the sea behind to take a job flying for paramilitary units in eastern India despite his new employers’ upfront warnings of the possible danger. An accomplished aviator, Sobotta thrives in the South Asian air, his time split among transporting soldiers, businessmen, and other VIPs; providing lifesaving airlifts to injured and sick soldiers; and doing reconnaissance work. The challenges are many, from navigating above long stretches of isolated jungle to weathering the heavy rains of the monsoon season and being fired upon by Maoist-Naxalite insurgents. His time on the ground becomes more difficult in its way—the constant stream of scorchingly spicy food, laxness of local hygiene, and eager mosquitoes often leave him feeling ill. Yet, while clearly uncomfortable with his rapid immersion, the expat pilot takes these trials remarkably in stride, an attitude that allows for great exploration, particularly with the beautiful and restless 30-something girl-next-door, Anika. The memoir is a wellspring of humor, with the author’s penchant for the occasional puns and corny jokes endearing and entertaining even when worthy of an eye-roll. Rejecting the tired trope of foreign exoticness, the narrative focuses instead on the author’s adventures and time between them. The book excels at balance: for instance, those interested in flying a helicopter will get a crash course in not crashing without being bored by constant technical intricacies. And while the humor will likely be the work’s most memorable feature, it shows a knack for pathos as well, from capturing the fear of undisciplined jungle soldiers to recalling the smell of gore inside Sobotta’s cockpit. As in the best memoirs, the author understands the need for complete candidness; he’s not afraid to share embarrassing anecdotes of drunken outings or scatological assaults from the eager bladders of India’s cows.

Exuberant—and funny—without neglecting the seriousness of surviving a year of love and war.

Pub Date: May 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-71871-1

Page Count: 366

Publisher: Globerunner Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

NUTCRACKER

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

more