There are three novels I consider esoteric works, not including the three volumes of the Mystic Trilogy, which is my work in progress. Specifically, I’m speaking of The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham, Siddhartha
, by Hermann Hesse, and Round the Bend by Nevil Shute.
I’ve read The Razor’s Edge once and once was enough. The truth is, I have difficulty calling it esoteric, but can thousands of people be wrong? Of course they can, but I’m not writing about The Razor’s Edge, so I’ll press on.
I’ve probably read Siddhartha a dozen times. I should note that I lean toward a particular translation (Hesse wrote the classic in German) which I’ll not mention, since this post isn’t about Siddhartha either.
I’m writing this to promote my all-time favorite book, Round the Bend, by Nevil Shute. It wasn’t his bestselling book. That honor went to On the Beach, which, as far as I know has never gone out of print. However, I’ve read reliable comments to the effect that Round the Bend was Nevil’s favorite, but that doesn’t really matter to me either. Round the Bend is my favorite novel, and I’m certain that I will never tire of it. Here are the first five paragraphs:
Some men of noble stock were made, some glory in the
Some praise a Science or an Art, but I like honourable
James Elroy Flecker
I came into aviation the hard way. I was never in the R.A.F., and my parent hadn’t got fifteen hundred pounds to spend on pilot training for me at a flying school. My father was, and is, a crane driver at Southampton docks, and I am one of seven children, five boys and two girls. I went to the council school like all the other kids in our street, and then when I left school Dad got me a job in a garage out on the Portsmouth Road. That was in 1929.
I stayed there for about three years and got to know a bit about cars. Then, early in the summer, Sir Alan Cobham came to Southampton with his flying circus, National Aviation Day, he called it. He operated in a big way, because he had about fifteen aeroplanes, Avros, and Moths and a glider and an Autogiro, and a Lincock for stunting displays, and big old Handley Page airliner for mass joyriding, and a new thing called an Airspeed Ferry. My, that was a grand turnout out to watch.
I knew from the first day that to be with that circus was the job for me. He was at Hamble for three days, and I was out at the field each day from early in the morning till dark. The chaps fuelling and cleaning down the aircraft let me help them, coiling down a hose or fetching an oil drum for them to stand on; when there was nothing else that wanted doing I went round the enclosures picking up the waste paper that the crowd had left behind and taking it away to burn in a corner of the filed. It was fun just doing that, because of the aeroplanes.
I got the sack from the garage on the second day.
On the evening of their last day, I went to the foreman of the ground crew and asked him for a job. He said I was too young, and they were full up anyway. He said that he was sorry.
The book is written in first person. The speaker is Tom Cutter. The book is about _______________. Well, that’s why I’m writing this post. I have a pristine, though used, copy of Round the Bend, which I intend to give to the first person who tells me who Tom Cutter is writing about. No catches, nothing to buy, or endorse, or try, and, I’ll wrap it and send it to the person who wins it, no matter where on the planet they live.
If you know the answer and would like to have this copy of the book, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, if you don’t win this copy, but the short excerpt hooked you, Round the Bend
is available at Amazon in both real paper and Kindle versions.