The International Writers Magazine: Travel Book Review
Desert of Death on Three Wheelers by Antonio Graceffo
may be difficult for us to understand why a successful investment
banker from New York, chooses to risk death and danger by crossing
the worlds second largest desert. However, when reading
Antonio Graceffos story, everything starts to become very
simple and clear why he'd to do such a thing.
Buy it here
This is a story
of one mans own challenge, to cross the Taklamakan Desert from
North to South alone, although unachieved by men before. It allows us
Westerners to gain insight to not only an experience we may never visit
or encounter but also types of cultures and people we never imagined
could still exist.
Whats appealing about this story by Graceffo is his writing style
as being ordinary and informal with snippets of dialogue to assist you
in getting the bigger picture. For a less intellectual but
entertaining read this is ideal. Antonios genuine character, blatant
or funny statements and honest thoughts all provide a fuller engagement
with his journey.
Most people love a good story of knowing how a human overcomes something
serious or survives danger. This is a story of survival from the extremely
high temperatures, constant dehydration and consistent physical pain.
This one man isolated, travelling natures danger zone, riding
miles on a strange impossible to ride three wheeler bike is remarkable.
I became so engrossed in this story, my curious self questioning can
this guy really make it? Is it really possible for a human to survive
such ordeal? Throughout the journey there are times when he feels as
if he cant go on. By great will power and determination he becomes
a hero and completes his mission.
The descriptions given are detailed enough to provide great visual imagery
for the reader and therefore makes the reader feel as if they were encountering
the journey with Antonio also. The various types of village people which
he stumbles upon his journey provide an intriguing aspect to his story.
You just never know what type of person he will meet next, some of these
people pretty much save his life, and some of the conversation exchanged
between them helps the reader gain insight to a completely unfamiliar
culture we likely dont know enough about. Its very thought
provoking meeting these characters in the book because it highlights
the extreme different lives we lead. e.g. the Ughyur construction foreman
Antonio meets randomly while travelling across the Taklamakan. The foreman
earned in a month the equivalent to what a pair of sixty US dollar boots
would cost. There are many people which appear in Antonios travels
which lead very simple lives living on what we would class as nothing,
some are not even aware of what a camera is? It really makes you wonder
how we are all a part of the same world.
Antonio Graceffo in the desert
recently emailed Antonio and asked a series of questions referring
to his book "The Desert of Death on Three Wheels".
He is currently living in Cambodia, writing articles about families
and people living in poverty. He wrote the following to me in response
to one of my questions:
"In the west we have no idea of true hopelessness and desperation.
Most recently I did a story about sick people gathered in a temple
where they believed the monk could cure them. They were desperate
and poor and ignorant and uneducated and infecting each other. More
than one thousand people living on top of each other in an area
about three times the size of a football pitch.
What can I say to sites like these? They sadden me. There is so
much humour in a lot of my stories. But that is often my way of
dealing with the sadness I saw the previous day."
The Desert of
Death on Three Wheels also has an added bonus story, its about
his trip to Thailand, where he plays for a team in a rather interesting
sport called elephant polo. I wont go into great detail of what
happens, or what kind of story to expect but I can guarantee you it
is an extremely funny read. Filled to the brim, of course, with Antonios
witty and comic comments in reflection of his experience. Antonio does
actually raise awareness for these elephants by fighting in a boxing
match. He is a boxer as well as a writer! It is clear from my response
from my online interview with him, that he really does care about the
places and people he visits from around the world. He has a very unstable
financial income writing about poverty, wars and the corrupt governments
he encounters when travelling.
The Desert of Death on Three Wheels is an entertaining great
story about a man who is compassionate about people and the places he
visits. He converts his travel experience into a story overcoming what
may seem the unobtainable. Everybody loves a good story dont we?
© Vanessa Hyde Nov 2005
Vanessa is a Creative Arts Student at the University of Portsmouth
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