Globe-trotting Gunther makes his debut with this slim, fragmented travelogue from a series of far-flung locations.
The author’s journeys take him to the Republic of the Congo, Borneo, Germany, Morocco, Ghana and the White Mountains in Eastern California. The book opens rather abruptly at the beginning of a trip to a gorilla research station in Mbeli Bai, Congo, a remote jungle clearing in the Nouabal-Ndoki National Park. The author explains that his wife is a curator of mammals for the Toronto Zoo, but he doesn’t explain in detail the exact purpose of their visit. A series of vignettes captures the chaos of travel, from frenzied airport arrivals to a heart-stopping moment when the outboard motor seizes during a nocturnal canoe journey up the Sangha River. There are also many fascinating encounters with wildlife, including a standoff with a young orangutan. Without much of a transition, the author moves on to Borneo, where he describes diving in the Celebes Sea, though again, there’s a sense that further explanation is required. For example, Gunther expects every reader to know the definition of a nudibranch or be willing to look it up. Another uncomfortable jump finds the author celebrating Karneval and speeding down the autobahn in Germany, then trekking in the Himalayas. A fluid description of the narrow alleyways of the Old World city of Fes, Morocco, showcases the author’s clear, easy style, but the account is, as always, all too brief. Each chapter is accompanied by a series of vibrant yet amateurish color photographs that add little to the book as a whole. The author’s range of travel is enviable, though, and each journey remains interesting in its own right, if somewhat unframed. The author omits any form of introduction, and as a consequence, there’s little explanation as to why these adventures have been undertaken or how they link together. The destinations each receive little more than a snapshot, making this read like a hurried personal travel journal rather than a more considered study for wider publication.
Intrepid and occasionally engaging, but lacking cohesion.