Encounters: A Memoir
are many ways that a book may arrive on the reviewer’s desk. In most cases
with new releases, the publisher will forward a review copy, along with the
dates of release and price. They are the easy ones. Sometimes the reviewer
will take a book from the Bookazine shelves, being very careful with it, as
it has to be returned in mint condition. Bookazine also informs the reviewer
of the RRP (recommended retail price).
Another way that a book can land on the table is when
sent in directly by the author, usually this means that the book is self-published,
not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with this, especially if the
book has literary worth. However, self-published books must include notice
of their availability and price.
This week’s review is of a self-published book (Encounters:
A Memoir, ISBN 1-4392-6461-9, 2009), which arrived with no indication of
where it would be stocked, or its RRP, so sat un-reviewed until the author
Sam Ogleseby furnished some further details.
Oglesby worked for the UN for many years, and as a single
man was able to enjoy a UN funded personal world exploration, with his tour
of duties being mainly around four years in any one country. His touring
included Libya, Switzerland, Vietnam, Italy, France, Thailand, Sri Lanka,
Burma, Indonesia, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Not bad when someone else is paying
for you. In fact a wonderful quote I received yesterday is worth repeating:
Foreign Aid: The process where money from the poor people in a rich country
is transferred to the rich people in a poor country!
The unreality of life as a white UN official plays
heavily upon Oglesby, and he writes of his Vietnam experience, “Here we were
fighting a war against an enemy who rode bicycles down the Ho Chi Minh trail
…… and what were we doing? Spending big bucks on apartments that were only
used a couple of days a month and running a phony airline so that provincial
swells could bring their mistresses up from Saigon for the weekend.”
One of his superiors was a serial rapist of underage
girls, but a blind eye was taken, which undoubtedly rankled with Oglesby
whose personal homosexual exploits were not always met with the same degree
of laissez faire.
Oglesby writes well and can generally hold the interest
of the reader, especially when describing details of the different
countries. However, he does lapse at times into a personal diary with
repetitious references to his native lovers. I found this became an
annoyance, even though the subtitle was Relationship Journeys from Around
the World. And before I am labeled as a ‘gay basher’, nothing could be
further from the truth. I have many friends who are homosexual and personal
sexual leaning does not come into our discussions on any subject. However
Oglesby’s constant references to ‘my lover’ became quite unnecessary, and
was obviously done for effect. An aggressive stance is really unnecessary in
literature these days. It might have been shocking 50 years ago, but not
Encounters is available through Amazon dot com for USD 11.51.