Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Promised Lands - a review

Promised Lands, a memoir by Toronto-based director Douglas Williams, details the author's picaresque semi-stoned adventures in Europe in 1967.  His account is by turn laugh-out-loud funny and deeply profound as he runs away from his repressed small town Ontario upbringing for the ancient cultures of Greece and then makes his way through eastern Europe and the middle East, where he gets trapped on the Jordan-Israel border during 1967's Six Day War, eventually escaping to Italy where irate drivers threaten him as they ignore his outstretched thumb, and culminating in glorious France where his descriptions of the food delight.  His eventual settling in London to study film brings the adventure to a halt as he embraces Trotsky as a way through the Orwellian despair of the British class system.

His memory is acute and confirmed with the inclusion of faded photographs and artifacts, bringing faces to the names of the sharply drawn characters he meets along the way.

The story Williams tells is enhanced with his personal self-deprecating voice which made me feel, not only along for the ride, but familiar with the driver.  His political interpretations and wry observations coupled with a hilarious way of depicting cultures bewildering to his sheltered younger self make this book so much more than mere travelogue.  It's a journey of self-discovery.

By the end, I felt refreshed.  I'd been told a wonderful tale by an old friend.  Highest recommendation.

Available on Amazon Canada, Amazon US, and Amazon UK.  Also as a Kindle book.

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