Blog Search

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A light-hearted book review....

 The cover of the book in question
 
Paul Carter is the stereotypical portrayal of an Aussie male - larger than life, a bit rough round the edges, absolutely up front, supremely resourceful and a wicked sense of humour.  Could be Crocodile Dundee we're describing here apart from the fact that Paul is real!  He spent what might be described as his formative years working on oil rigs round the world and during the process, was surprised to discover that he had a considerable literary talent.  I've read his accounts of working on the oil rigs and the lunatics who worked with him and have literally come close to wetting myself in embarrassing locations.   He's also a keen biker, although that doesn't receive a lot of coverage in those books.

Anticipating a wet weekend, I took myself off to the public library and was delighted to find a copy of his latest book - the cover of which is shown above.  It's the story of his ride round Australia on a bike originally built by Adelaide University students for an alternative fuels challenge, consisting of a Cagiva adventure bike rolling chassis and a small single cylinder diesel pump engine running on used cooking oil to propel it along.  With a top speed of 70km/hr and vibration on par with a road compactor, you just know this is going to be one heck of a tale!  Oh, and the bike was prepared for the trip by the Australian main branch of Deus Ex Machina - you may have seen my 2 blog posts on the NZ branch of these extraordinary motorcycle builders.

Paul is one of those rare writers who describes things so well that it's easy to believe you're there too.  His enthusiastic but unhinged approach to things marks him as a "man's man" whom guys will immediately identify with.  Women will identify him as possessing the very worst, irritating and excessive traits of their partners!  This isn't some tale of  a mega-expensive Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman-type ride, it's done on a shoestring with some help from a few odd mates (the emphasis being on ODD) plus some family members.

 The conclusion to an unbelievably funny incident!

Paul's self-deprecating writing style  makes you immediately identify with the predicaments he continually finds himself in.  In my case, it's usually the most embarrassing ones!  I'm not going to spoil it for the potential reader but there's one incident in a hospital where Paul is stiff all over following a spill from the bike and moving about with the aid of a walking frame.  Why is it that all medical staff seem obsessed with bowel movements??  He's been put on a diet of prunes for over 24 hours.  Whole prunes, puréed prunes, prunes with a side dish of prunes - you get the picture!  At a completely inopportune time, they start to work as intended and what happens next had me crying with snot running out of my nose and ribs hurting.  One of the funniest and perfectly-painted mental pictures I've ever encountered and that's just one incident in this brilliant book.

The twists and turns in the book will probably awaken a deep-seated need to go and do something completely daft on two wheels so don't blame me if that happens - you've been warned!!  If you enjoy it (and you'd have to have had a humour bypass not to), go and get the biographies of his oil rig days too - you won't be disappointed.

Is That Thing Diesel?  by Paul Carter.  ISBN 987-1-74175-702-6
Costs about US$11 from Amazon; a bit cheaper if downloaded as an e-book.





26 comments:

  1. Just downloaded it from Audible.com as an audiobook (by far my favorite way for consuming books these days). It is read by the author so I'm looking forward to hearing it. I listen to a lot of books while I'm out exercising. Thank you for the recommendation.

    Richard

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Richard - wow, that was fast!

    Hey, thank you for the thought as it's something I've never considered. Let us know how you get on with the Aussie accent and whether you enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've seen it in the book shops and ummed and rrred about getting it. Looks like I may have to!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Geoff, a more general comment about reading books. I've noticed that as I'm reading more and more stuff online, reading tons of short pieces and emails for work - my ability to sit and read a more sustained piece of writing such as a book is diminishing. Kind of a self inflicted dumbing down process is taking place. I'm not sure if others have found this or if it's just me!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gidday Jules!

    Interesting comment mate and one which I haven't thought about! I'm like you with regard to short pieces and emails etc, but I just love reading books. I'm pretty selective about the amount of TV watching and if I'm not doing something else in the evenings, a good book with a glass of single malt is really enjoyable and I'm a big user of our local public library.

    I know both Raftnn (Roger) and our daughter in law enjoy electronic book downloads and their experience is making us seriously consider it too, particularly for trips. Have been humming and hawing about the relative merits of a Kindle or iPad!

    Enjoy the working week :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Geoff - One for the book list indeed! Will have to look for an electronic version (I'm hooked on my Kobo e-reader!)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Canajun!
    On balance, I think his books about his oil rig days are even funnier, but this one is about bikes after all!
    I really must investigate these e-readers and shed the Old Fart status (well, partially anyway)!

    ReplyDelete
  8. So far I'm up to chapter 10 and it has been an enjoyable and engaging book. I think I will also download the other book as well. I had no problem with the accent though he was at times rather monotone.

    Thank you for the recommendation.

    Richard

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks Richard, that's great to hear. Tell me, with an audio download, is it in iPod compatible format, e.g MP3? I'm currently looking at options to bring me into the 21st Century!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Geoff,

    I'm in the market for a few new books. I'll see if I can find this one without too much trouble. The last book that was recommended on the internet "One Man Caravan" I thought was a pretty good read. So, I'll add this one to my bookshelf, too. You really seem to like it.

    Brady
    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life
    http://www.behindbarsmotorcycle.com/

    ReplyDelete
  11. Brady:
    I like it because he's an everyday guy who just happen to have superb writing skills. Makes it very easy to identify with and like him.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yes, the audible.com site has a variety of downloads in different formats and bit rates to match just about any device you have. I listen to books on my iPhone and before that on my iPod. I have been listening to books for about 4 years mostly because I can do something else at the same time. Plus, some books are done like plays with multiple voices doing the different parts. For me, I occasionally get headaches from reading.

    Richard - My blog

    ReplyDelete
  13. Richard:
    Than you for that, I'll have to investigate it as I used to love listening to good radio plays, particularly science fiction. Reminds me that we used to play a War of the Worlds tape narration on the car tape player about 25 years ago and terrify the kids!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Finished the audiobook and ended up doing a Google search for the DVD. No longer for sale (but there are several sites listing downloads.)

    I'll second the recommendation. It was a great story and I wish I had a diesel motorcycle though maybe a little more than 8 hp.

    Richard

    ReplyDelete
  15. Richard:

    Thanks for the endorsement! Oh, I don't know about horsepower! I'm seriously thinking about tackling the annual 1000 miles in 24 hours ride on a Honda C90 Cub!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'll keep an eye on ya Geoff...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Geoff,

    Really? A C90? I owned a c70 for a while. I assume you'll use a newer one that what I had, because I don't think you can kill 1,000 miles on a 24 house on a '71 passport.

    Brady
    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

    ReplyDelete
  18. Andrew:
    Next year maybe :-). Too busy with IAM this year!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Brady:
    Have done it 5 times on bigger bikes so it would be a cool new challenge. I'd pick up an old one, rebuild the motor and fit a long range tank to help offset the lower top speed.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Geoff,

    I hope you shoot out some progress on this one as it comes. I would love to try something like it. I can live vicariously this way, at least.

    Brady
    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

    ReplyDelete
  21. keep doing a great job.
    You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who arenot afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Peter:
    Thanks for the very kind words. I guess there's a very fine line between passion and obsession! Hopefully, I fall(just) on the passion side of the line as I do have a few fall-back options if I ever have to give up riding bikes.

    Thank you for dropping by!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Okay, just finished it. Great story! Not many of us can rely on "mates" in so many far-flung corners to come to our assistance when doing something as certifiably outrageous as riding around Australia on an 8 hp diesel motorcycle. Now I have to look for his other book.
    Thanks for the recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Canajun:

    Great stuff - glad you enjoyed it. I can recommend another book about riding round Australia on a "normal" bike by a Kiwi which is even funnier: http://www.twistingthrottle.com/#!__australia. He's also done one about riding in the USA but I haven't read that yet.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Ok, you got me super curious about this book. I'm gonna ride over (of course) and see if I can find a hard copy. If not, then I'll settle for the electronic version. By the way, very nice garden. I just returned from a long moto-camping trip (primoworks-on2wheels.com) and my whole yard is, um, interesting? Yeah, that works. We're just hitting fall/autumn here (Louisiana, USA) so I'll let it wait till spring. (Yes, I'm procrastinating =D)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Irene!
    I think you'll enjoy it! (Also, the book mentioned in the post above is fantastic too). I spent some happy times in Louisiana and other parts of the Southern States when I was working there in 1996.

    Thanks for dropping by!

    ReplyDelete