Patrick Marnham





PATRICK MARNHAM once shared an office with Auberon Waugh. For this, he deserved, but didn't get, a prize. His latest book, So Far From God ... A Journey To Central America did win the 1985 Themes Cook travel writing award and has just been published In paperback by Penguin.

The Marnham cv reads approximately thus: mid-1960s flunked out of final Bar exams and lands job with fledgling Private Eye; hitchhiking to Nepal in 1968 provides basis for first book, Road To Kathmandu; a study of independent Africa, Fantastic Invasion, is the second.

Marnham travels light but carries a pen which can strip the flannel from what he encounters and frequently offers fresh and provocative angles on his subject.

The Journey described in So Far From God ... lasted three months and included Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He travelled by bus and, despite predictions, didn't get killed.

His view of Nicaragua contrasts strongly with that of others I know who've been there. Marnham disliked the Sandinistas with their (he claims) censorship of the media, control of the judiciary and hounding of priests; he pays little heed to the stretching of their resources by having to guard against a threatened invasion by the US-backed Contra.

Still, the author insists that his is "a personal view but accurate in as far as it was my experience. My chief pleasure is . I'd rather just leave as this happened this way without saying therefore the following things are right or wrong. I'd rather just describe it."

And with a new age of travel writing apparently us Marnham's description is often among the genre's most lucid.


mick sinclair

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