Sunday, September 7, 2008

No-Man's Lands (Book #82)

No-Man's Lands (Scott Huler, 2008) is a memoir of travel and coming to terms with middle age and mortality. After rediscovering the Odyssey, the 44-year-old Huler decides to spend the bulk of his wife's pregnancy (!) tracing the path of Odysseus, as best as we can determine it, around the Mediterranean. Along the way he muses about the lessons Odysseus learns about leadership and life (sometimes you have to run away, don't sneer at good advice whatever the source, etc.) and how they apply to him.

I haven't read the Odyssey since I was 23 or 24, and Huler's contention that it's a midlife book makes me want to attempt it again now that I'm into my late 30's, staring in wary disbelief at my 40th birthday, not too far away at all in January 2011.

He's also got me pondering the trip I'm already planning for when I'm 44 in 2015. Not long after I got interested in military history, it occurred to me that barring anything tragic I should be alive and healthy for the Waterloo bicentennial, and wouldn't it be cool to be there? I don't know if I'll be able to pull it off, but I dream of spending 6-8 weeks in Europe, visiting not just Waterloo but the Peninsular War battlefields of Portugal, Spain, and Southern France (and, you know, some of the other interesting sites that happen to be in that part of the world). Sort of a Wellington pilgrimage. Which doesn't have the inherent universal interest of an Odysseus pilgrimage, but is a lot more me. And, who knows, maybe there's a travelogue/memoir in figuring out and explaining just why it is that I, a politically liberal 21st-century American woman who takes pride in her blue-collar Appalachian Scots-Irish roots, am so fascinated by an Anglo-Irish Tory aristocrat born almost exactly 200 years before I was.

5 comments:

jmnlman said...

So he did the trip to get away from the wife?

Susan Wilbanks said...

Well, more that he'd been planning the trip already, and his wife's pregnancy sped up the timing so he could be sure to be home in time for the birth.

jmnlman said...

Well that's a little better then.

Anonymous said...

If I can be of any assistance in your "Iron Duke" peregrinage...
let me know, he spent a night across the river from my house..
while the French were hanging some of the locals...
best whishes from another "Nosey" fan, here in Portugal
abel

Susan Wilbanks said...

Abel, I may take you up on that! I'm just starting to think through my dream itinerary, since it's still almost seven years away, and it's only a recent inheritance that got us out of debt that's made a long trip seem possible.