A new edition of a great، underappreciated classic of our time
Beryl Markham's West with the Night is a true classic، a book that deserves the same acclaim and readership as the work of her contemporaries Ernest Hemingway، Antoine de Saint-Exupéry، and Isak Dinesen.
If the first responsibility of a memoirist is to lead a life worth writing about، Markham succeeded beyond all measure. Born Beryl Clutterbuck in the middle of England، she and her father moved to Kenya when she was a girl، and she grew up with a zebra for a pet; horses for friends; baboons، lions، and gazelles for neighbors. She made money by scouting elephants from a tiny plane. And she would spend most of the rest of her life in East Africa as an adventurer، a racehorse trainer، and an aviatrix―she became the first person to fly nonstop from Europe to America، the first woman to fly solo east to west across the Atlantic. Hers was indisputably a life full of adventure and beauty.
And then there is the writing. When Hemingway read Markham's book، he wrote to his editor، Maxwell Perkins: "She has written so well، and marvelously well، that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer... [She] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers... It is really a bloody wonderful book."
With a new introduction by Sara Wheeler―one of Markham's few legitimate literary heirs―West with the Night should once again take its place as one of the world's great adventure stories.
About the Author Beryl Markham (1902–1986) was a British-born Kenyan aviatrix، adventurer، and racehorse trainer.
Sara Wheeler is the author of، most recently، The Magnetic North and Access All Areas.
Paperback: 293 pages Authors: Beryl Markham، and Sara Wheeler Publisher: North Point Press; Second edition (January 22، 2013) Language: English Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
Editorial Reviews Amazon.com Review One of the most beautifully crafted books I have ever read، with some of the most poetic prose passages I could imagine، such as the following، resonating with a stately and timeless quality so absent in our modern life: There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing. There is the silence that comes with morning in a forest، and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city. There is silence after a rainstorm، and before a rainstorm، and these are not the same. There is the silence of emptiness، the silence of fear، the silence of doubt. There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used، or from a piano with old dust upon its keys، or from anything that has answered to the need of a man، for pleasure or for work. This kind of silence can speak. Its voice may be melancholy، but it is not always so; for the chair may have been left by a laughing child or the last notes of the piano may have been raucous and gay. Whatever the mood or the circumstance، the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows. It is a soundless echo.
Born in England in 1902، Markham was taken by her father to East Africa in 1906. She spent her childhood playing with native Maruni children and apprenticing with her father as a trainer and breeder of racehorses. In the 1930s، she became an African bush pilot، and in September 1936، became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west.
From Library Journal Markham's West with the Night was originally published in the early 1940s and disappeared، only to be rediscovered and reprinted in the 1980s when it became a smash hit. This latest incarnation is a lavishly illustrated edition. Though Markham is known for setting an aviation record for a solo flight across the Atlantic from East to West-hence the title-she was also a bush pilot in Africa، sharing adventures with Blor Blixen and Denys Finch-Hatton of Out of Africa fame. Hemingway، who met Markham during his safari days، dubbed the book "bloody wonderful."
“Did you read Beryl Markham's book، West with the Night? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer's log book. As it is، she has written so well، and marvelously well، that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words، picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers. The only parts of it that I know about personally، on account of having been there at the time and heard the other people's stories، are absolutely true... I wish you would get it and read it because it is really a bloody wonderful book.” ―Ernest Hemingway
“West with the Night is the sort of book that makes you think human beings can do anything... When she was a mere child، she was clawed by a lion. This should have been enough to make anybody timid for life، but not Beryl... A jewel of taut writing and thrilling reading... The girl can write.” ―John Chamberlain، The New York Times