Reviews

Three Pagodas Pass: A Roundabout Journey to Burma

S. K. Page

George Fetherling has been exploring again, this time halfway around the world, part of the time on a cruise ship from hell. Three Pagodas Pass: A Roundabout Journey to Burma (Subway), Fetherling’s fifty-somethingth book, contains no maps, which is an unkindness to readers who like their texts to come with apparatus. Nevertheless Fetherling’s tale is fascinating: he sets out with a companion named Bernadette with whom he shares bed and argument; by the time he gets to Burma (via Greece, Casablanca, the Falkland Islands, Easter Island and Thailand), he is alone. Fetherling is a good observer and an excellent maker of potted history and his book is a good read, although one could wish that he had written more about the vessel that carried him, the cruise ship from hell, which in itself seems to deserve a volume. Burma is also a kind of hell, or perhaps a purgatory, and one can feel Fetherling justifiably developing paranoia while he is there and for some months after his return. For some reason he adopts the military clock and so forces the reader into doing arithmetic in order to determine that 2, for example, is what many of us think of as quite late at night.

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