T.C. Boyle is one of my favorite contemporary writers and from the hippie clash of Drop City, to the speculative ruin of the planet in Friend of the Earth, I have recommended many of his works here. Water Music is his first novel and while he may not have quite acquired the brilliant character development you’ll find in his later books, there’s lots to have fun with in the adventures of Mungo Park – trudging through the dark heart of undiscovered (by Westerners that is) Africa and Ned Rise – trudging through the foul hardships of London in the late 18th century.
While Boyle freely admits to playing with the historical facts, Mungo Park was a real life explorer who chronicled his discoveries in a book called Travels in the Interior of Africa. Rogue and con man Rise on the other hand is purely a figment of Boyle’s imagination.
Adventure seems to be the theme of the week, and Water Music is a doozy with cutthroats, gallows, crocodiles, angry Moor warriors, frightening diseases, grave robbing and more. Best paired with something along the lines of this week’s movie pick or one of Herzog’s adventures like Aguirre The Wrath of God.