Scattered throughout Beryl Markham’s memoir is a scant number of dialog – so pertinent, so useful and so spare as to be significant. Each conversation is consequential either to give you an inside look into a person’s intentions, motivations or their character flaws – and somehow she manages to give it all a distinct dignity of the human kind. People act regal and arrogant yet with a palpable set of values familiar to all of us. Her dialog moves the story along as they are meant to – but with a precision uncommon to most literature.
Although her view of life seems to be that it is hard work and lonesome, when you read this memoir – it seems effortless. She speaks to the loneliness in all of us, having been abandoned at nearly five by her mother (which she doesn’t write about but I learned later).
She observes universal truths: How fate is seen only after from the living that remain, and only then, can be foreshadowed by so many markers. She comments on poverty, hunting and man’s intrusion that changes native lives and landscapes via “advancements”. She explains how everything has an edge, a limit, yet it’s all a bottomless pit of story, swerves, curves, turns and returns, goodbyes, introductions and moments.
This book was written by a superb master, albeit her one full length book. She makes visible how it was and is and let’s you play moral judge. You are a passenger allowed to linger in her cockpit, in her head, for scene upon scene, layered in a life of linear languidness.
Markham’s writing is like nothing else I have read.