Book Reviews

An Ancient Mariner's Tales Of Adventure

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A new work of fiction is populated by historical characters. Tales of the New World by Sabina Murray takes as its template the adventures of some of the greatest world explorers and uses their stories to investigate the known and unknown. Alan Cheuse, who teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., has a review.


And now, a review of a new collection of stories about explorers from the past. Sabina Murray's book is called "Tales of the New World" and our reviewer Alan Cheuse has explored it with pleasure.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Sabina Murray plays ancient mariner in this exotic and interesting new collection of stories. She employs a real and eccentric and adventurous band of early and late Western explorers, both men and women, people who ventured out into Africa and across the Pacific.

We meet the 19th century British traveler and businesswoman, Mary Kingsley, orphaned at a fairly young age and determined to see Africa firsthand. Ferdinand Magellan, sailing into the middle of the Western ocean with a starving crew and accompanied by Antonio Pigafetta, an adoring Italian nobleman who attempts to translate for Magellan when they encounter the inhabitants of the great unknown. William Ayer, one of the first white travelers to cross the length of southern Australia. Pirate and naturalist, William Dampier, who's sailing for the third time around the globe, asked himself, am I taking this voyage or is it taking me?

A good question, to which I would add another. Are we reading biographical fiction or energetic biography? No matter. Sabina Murray folds her exotic material into eccentrically shaped and eccentrically told stories driven with the same force as that ancient mariner, stories that you may want to read, as I did, with the assistance of Google Earth, so you can pinpoint Cebu, Mindanao, the great Australian Bight, the Remway(ph) River in Africa on your computer screen.

BLOCK: The new collection of stories is called "Tales of the New World" by Sabina Murray. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

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