First Post / Book Review

Hello! Welcome to my little corner of the internet, I’m Rebecca/Becqui a recent English and Philosophy graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University. I’m going back to do an MA in English studies in September, but in the mean time I am occupied with part-time work and a little bit of freelance writing. I love reading and following many blogs so thought it was time to jump into the fray. On here I’m going to post mostly book reviews, but also about anything else that I find interesting! Let me know which posts you do and don’t like – all feedback is welcome! And if there is anything you’d like to see, I’ll do my best to make it happen.

Anyway to kick things off I thought I would share with you one of my favourite books – The Beach by Alex Garland. The reason that this is one of my favourite reads is because every time I return to it, and I must have read it at least six times, I find something different to interest me and to think about.

Alex Garland - The Beach

Excuse the bad quality pictures, I will be upgrading to something better soon!

The Beach tells the story of Richard, a seasoned traveller who upon his first night on the Khao Sang Road, Bangkok, discovers the suicide of a follower traveller. The man, known only as Daffy Duck, leaves nothing but questions for the police and a hand-drawn map for Richard with directions to ‘The Beach’. ‘The Beach’ has become something of a legend amongst the young travelling community, for it is the home to a select group who are living beyond the reach of tourism on an elusive island. For Richard, plagued with half-memories of the glamour of Vietnam war movies visiting unknown Thai territory is irresistible. Alongside a young French couple he ventures into the forbidden land of the Thai national park, encountering drug barons and sharks on his quest for the ultimate traveller’s paradise.

The first time I read this book was about seven years ago, when I was just sixteen. At that time I took it pretty much at face value and loved it. The plot follows a travelling community who all smoke weed, a lot of banana pancakes are consumed, and the beach has easy access to massive marijuana fields. Despite risking the wrath of Thai drug barons there is an endless pot supply. I think every teenager would love the seemingly glamorous hazy lifestyle that the travellers aspire to. Sure shit gets a bit weird towards the end and people die but on the whole I thought it an amazing adventure.

With a few more years and a lot more books under my belt on this read I was really interested in different aspects of it. Richard, the narrator is a character who seems to exist mostly inside his own head. After meeting Mister Duck, the Scottish run-away from the ‘Beach’ who commits suicide Richard has frequent nightmares about him all of which contain omens about his future. Mister Duck leads Richard out of trouble a few times, and eventually starts appearing as a hallucination. This initially startles Richard but then he comes to view Mister Duck as a friend, they have a lot in common and they spend hours chatting about their favourite films and Airfix models. People from the ‘Beach’ even comment on how much Richard reminds them of Daffy (Mister Duck).

Equally Richard is presented as an outsider, he travels with a couple Françoise and Étienne, and he likes to describe the relief he feels when he shuts himself off from them. When they reach the beach he again becomes an outsider – completing missions that mean he spends a lot of time alone with only Mister Duck to talk to. I’m still not sure what the significance of these aspects is, but that’s just why I like it: even though it’s well-read I still find things to chew over.

However, the main draw of this book for me is was how the ‘Beach’ is presented as a Mecca for travellers who want an untainted experience, closed off from tourism and the outside world. However in the end it is the people within the Beach that destroy it, rifts spring up and it descends into a nightmare. It reminds me of Lord of the Flies in this respect, showing how lawless societies descend into a madness that is almost inhuman.

                                             IMG_2901

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I also love these simple illustrations at the beginning of each paragraph!

I think this is a good book for those who are interested in ‘cult’ fiction; there is something captivating about this novel, something increasingly strange which sets it apart from other texts. As previously mentioned, if Lord of the Flies interested you then this is a totally different read, but has aspects of similarity in it.

So there you go! That’s one of my favourite books! Have any of you read it? If so, what do you think of the review? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Richard’s dreams/hallucinations.

Becqui 

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