Narrow Dog To Carcassonne
About this deal
They love every living creature to a rapture unless you are small and furry and trying to get the hell out of here. Aliens, trolls, gongoozlers, killer fish, and the walking dead all stand between our two-person, one-whippet crew and their goal: the ancient, many-towered city of Carcassonne. Terry Darlington has a fine line in self-deprecatory humour, a characteristic of English humour we're told, except Terry delights in his deprecation extending to everyone else who characters his writing!
So certain is he that we need to know about his trip to every pub and the number of steps up to every canal lock opening that we learn virtually nothing about the scenery of the trip.While the thesis for this book was an English narrowboat (canal boat) taken down England, across the channel, into Belgium, and then to the south of France, the actual amount of material devoted to boating or canal details could have been summed up in less than 15 pages. It's full of glorious passages and genuinely really funny jokes which only work because of the way it's written, and how much of the author's personality comes across through that. Narrow Dog is a bit like that: on the page, Darlington never uses quotation marks (which for some reason always makes a novel read as a lot more 'literary', at least for me) and never wastes time on exposition.
There is maybe 1 worthwhile mention of canal travel detail per chapter, so the book can be a fast scan looking for these mentions.
Great adventure I dont deny but the writing style is more challenging at times, rambling, jumping and at times so off piste you have to double back to check you have not missed a page. There are supermarkets the size of a city that seem to be open from time to time, but they are not - they are going round behind you making faces. British bone China dry and very funny, often poetic, Darlington relates the charming and not so charming aspects of living on and maneuvering and flatboat through English and French canals, and a harrowing Channel crossing, with enormous affection for his wife but especially for his “ narrow dog”, a whippet named Jim. For more details, please consult the latest information provided by Royal Mail's International Incident Bulletin.
I was interested in the canal journey and parts made me laugh out loud but halfway through the book, it became repetitive particularly the descriptions of Jim the dog who has centre stage and as I am not a dog enthusiast just became tedious. I felt this all through the book, but couldn't quite put my finger on it, and then discovered on finishing the tale that he'd penned a little postscript pointing to all the literary allusions and quotations he'd peppered the book with. Instead, we get virtually verbatim transcripts of conversations between Terry and a variety of friends, fellow travelers and barkeeps.His voyage is illustrated by a succession of little vignettes of a paragraph or two, and the intervening time and place passes un-noted. The author is clearly extrovert, and maybe a bit of a drinker, eager to jump into someone elses boat and go on til the early hours. It has also reached the heart of a daughter-in-law who has lurchers - the big version of the dog in the story. The writing is as muscular and lean as its canine hero, conjuring up dawn mist or giant catfish in prose haiku before moving on to the next killer one-liner. the Phyllis May was an airship passing through the clouds, forbidden to land, though her captain longed for the streams and woods below.
They don’t know much about boats, except have to steer, and definitely nothing about the mechanics of boat engines. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. That is how the English narrow lock was born, and the English narrowboat-the cigarette, the pencil, the eel, the strangest craft ever to slither down a waterway. Her three children have all reproduced themselves, removing doubts about whether she and Terry are the same species.Along for the journey would be their faithful whippet named Jim and their course would take them not only along the picturesque canals of Europe, but also on the River Thames and across the English Channel.