[ilds] The Enigma of Arriving

Denise Tart & David Green dtart at bigpond.net.au
Fri May 8 14:58:29 PDT 2009

The precocious diplomat/poet would never have willingly undergone Colin Thubron's long trek with a rucksack hitchhiking through Central Asia, or have decided as Paul Theroux did to take the long way round the entire Mediterranean coast by any means necessary, except flying. Durrell preferred colonial drawing rooms, wine and the pleasure of leisurely conversation to the hardships of the road and an inevitable night in a flea ridden hovel.

I an not convinced travel writing has to be a muscular and puritanical process of hardship and self discovery along the Duke of Edinburgh Award model. As a chain smoking wine soak, Larry was hardly likely to hump a ruck sack  through the Atlas Mountains and sleep in a tent, let alone a flea ridden hovel. It is precisly because he doesn't do this that enjoy his so called travel books. The lycra - bycycle - shorts - sweaty - treking - look at me I'm a hard man travel books are a dime a dozen and about as original as Woman's Weekly novella. With Durrell you get personal experience transformed or indeed refracted into a recreated parallel world; myth, magic, ficton and reality all rolled into one and  when larry writes -

The city wobbles cool as a jelly, with colours of wine, tar, blood and ripening grain, floating like fragments of a stained-glass window 

I am there, it is real for me. It matters not whether Durrell's Corfu, Rhodes, Cyprus or Alexandria are largley fictions. Durrell was a poet and novelist and the term travel writer is a misnomer in his case and I have always thought so. Larry was always much more into spirit of place - oh and colonial drawing rooms and wine bars and why not. I traveled a lot and, in the folly of youth stayed in near flea ridden hovels with drunken pack packers and I've stayed in 4 and 5 star hotels. the later are much better and you can write about them too with equal validity - like the time when I was in the Mecure Montmarte with a group of Australian businessmen and we teamed up the the French bar star to annoy some conceited, haughty and rude german corporate types who expected to be waited on hand and foot. Ha, Ha, Ha!

Roy Hedges and I wrote a poem about Milos - and I've never been there!!!! I think there is a version appearing in Dues Loci soon?

David Green

16 William Street
Marrickville NSW  2204
+61 2 9564 6165
0412 707 625
dtart at bigpond.net.au
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