Book Reviews

Beyond The Pancake Trench:

Road Tales from the Wild East

by
Tom Vater

2004. 192 pp., 16 colour plates, 215 x 152, Softcover

ISBN-10: 974-524-047-8 $23.00
ISBN-13: 978-974-524-047-6




Beyond the Pancake Trench

Book review by Mark Pilkington

(Fortean Times issue 193)


Adventurer and audiographer Tom Vater takes us on a wild ride. Whether he’s watching dancers fly through the air at a Bangkok nightclub or the people-crushing juggernauts of the gods at the Rath Yatra festival in Puri, India, Vater combines a two-fisted prose style with an admirable homing instinct for weirdness. A piercing eye for detail brings his accounts alive with colour - often blood red - and sound, such as at a Thai festival where gangsters are tattoed by animist monks. Elsewhere, Vater has a brush with a rocker with a taste for pre-pubescent youth and, in Laos, marvels at the enigma of the Plain of Jars. Vater is no romanticist, however; many of the people and landscapes he describes are literally scarred - by war, crime, poverty and disease - and the picture he paints is rarely pretty. But what ultimately shines through this rich, heaving tapestry is the persistence of spirit, human and other, amongst such adversity, and the often bizarre ways in which people respond to it.

Fortean Times Verdict : Fabulously fierce two-fisted traveller’s tales - 8

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