West with the Night By Beryl Markham (Farrar Straus & Giroux, $18.50)
Epitomizing emotion in words, this perfectly constructed, funny, and simple account of Markham’s coming of age in Africa in the early 20th century is a masterpiece. Readers must concentrate on every single word not just glean this modern day storybook, as every word has a purpose. Scenes of Africa, familiar now from years of watching nature films, is described in feeling detail, so that the reader too is flying with Markham.
The book possesses a dreamlike quality passing from past to present, first to third person fluidly. Some sentences read like grammar school book exercises with textbook similes, metaphors, and turns of phrases. The language, though, is not flowery but direct and economical. This is a seminal piece of adventure travel writing.
This original article first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.