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The Mountains Look on Marrakech by Hamish Brown

Review by planetFear
Monday 31st December 2007

Comments on A. Teine’s review of Hamish Brown, The Mountains Look on Marrakech, published 6th November 2007.

Having already penned a review of the above-mentioned work on my own website, the reader may rightly wonder for what reason I should want to take up the cudgels again. In fact, there I would have let the matter stand had not A. Teine been so scathing in his criticism of Hamish Brown’s remarkable book.

Even if Mr Teine rates this as his second toughest read ever (it depends on what literary fare he is accustomed to), it is unfair to take Hamish to task for having added numerous flashbacks and other miscellaneous detail to what might otherwise have become a dry-as-dust route description. In fact, Hamish is to be commended for having avoided falling into that particular trap. Again, to compare reading his book with being cornered at a party “by a crashing bore” is as unkind as it is uncalled for. How else would the reviewer have set about accomplishing so demanding a task as describing a 96-day end-to-end traverse of the Atlas ranges, and, more important, making it readable? Could we be looking at a case of “sour grapes”?

After grudgingly admitting that the route maps and break-down of the journey into daily stages had helped him follow the author’s route, the reviewer was still, at times, struggling to make out “where the heck” Hamish had got to on the map. Perhaps Mr Teine is not as familiar with parts of the route as he would have us believe, making him a less than “fine choice” as reviewer of Hamish Brown’s book, contrary to what he modestly states at the end of the first paragraph.

The reviewer’s contention that Hamish is settling scores with some of the participants on his trip does not resist examination. Actually, he is quite discreet on this score, though making no bones of his difference of opinion with a certain French lady (whom I happen to know). At no point does he mention her name, so what he does say about her is all water under the bridge – no grounds here for a law-suit!

The final advice to the would-be reader that, before tackling The Mountains Look on Marrakech, he take a crash course in speed-reading is also way over the top. Above all, Mr Teine fails to point out one of the great strengths of the book: the closeness and warmth of the rapport between Hamish and the Atlas Berbers, evidence of which jumps out at you from almost every page. On this score alone it deserves to become a classic Moroccan travel book.

Michael PEYRON
Author Great Atlas Traverse

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