Monday, May 19, 2008

End of the Spear

By Steve Saint.

This is labeled as the memoirs of Steve Saint, the son of one of the five missionaries who was killed in the 1950s in the Amazon rain forest. Although it took me a while to get into it, partly due to the number of foreign names and relationships, I became quite interested in what was going to happen.

The style is quite informal and easy to read, although it could perhaps have used more editing—in one place there is a section break, with the associated graphic, in the middle of a sentence. The author for the most part did a good job incorporating English translations of the foreign terms without becoming too repetitive. Although he tries throughout to incorporate a little humor, I think it falls flat until the last few chapters, which I found (mostly) hilariously funny. The "mostly" is perhaps the reason for the humour—it helps to offset the tragedy that occurs.

However, there is a lot left out of this story. The airline agent's visit to the Amazon is dismissed in a couple of sentences, with no mention of her reaction. There are other places where he neglects to mention or explain his own reactions or actions. In the last few chapters, he leaves out quite a lot, focusing on the antics of the Waodani tribe members who accompany him back to the U.S. Part of the reason the book is hard to get into is due to the confusing chronology: it seems to start closer to the present day and then flash back to the past, but it isn't entirely clear when things happen or even the order that they happen in.

Despite these drawbacks, the book is quite interesting, but it could have been better.

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