Tuesday, 25 October 2011

COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD by Steven Porter - a review

Countries of the World, by Steven Porter, is one of those odd, uncategorisable sorts of books, the sort of book that is utterly enchanting due to the sheer atmosphere it creates.  Every time I sat down to read it, the world slowed down around me as I was taken to the fictional Scottish village of Breogan in the hands of the unamed narrator - a man looking back at his childhood, leafing through a hefty book, also called 'Countries of the World'.

The narrator's experiences in several South American countries are truly illuminating, and the section on Maradonna hilarious.  Being pretty much the same age as Porter, I grinned time and time again as my own childhood was writ large on the page - the Subbuteo games, the World Cups, the playing football over the park till the sun went down - then there were the other events in the 'real' world - The Falklands War, the South American dictatorships, Margaret bloody Thatcher. 

The beauty of this book lies in its simplicity.  Porter writes in such an easy, unpretentious manner, each page becomes an absolute pleasure to turn.  But beneath the geographic facts and the footballing anecdotes, between the lines, there is the story of the narrator as a boy attempting to make sense of the world around him.    Like all really good writers, Porter manages to conceal a deeper truth - the truth of what it is to carry on when all about you makes so very little sense. 

And when death comes creeping into the boy's childhood we get the idea there are some things in this world where no sense is meant to be found.

A highly original, beautifully written book I'll be reading again and again.

Countries of the World is published by Byker Books, and is available from the UK here and download here and US download here

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Ian. You must be at least a month older than me though! ;>)