Wednesday, June 30, 2010

8:55 to Baghdad by Andrew Eames: A Second Reading

I just reread 8:55 to Baghdad by Andrew Eames for a book club discussion. I was surprised how much I had forgotten about the book. I remembered that he traveled as much as he could by increasingly dilapidated trains to visit sites from Agatha Christie's life and that he described events from both her and his lives. In my memory, however, there was more of hers and less of his. In fact, on rereading I find the opposite. His London to Baghdad trip in the days just before the American invasion of Iraq dominates the book.

I believe I focused more on the Christie story in the first reading, as the events of her life were newer to me as a reader then. I have since read much more about her. So this time, I see how Eames really just introduces the story of the famous mystery writer traveling alone to the Middle East and falling in love with a younger archeologist. But he did tell this story well enough to get me to read more.

In my memory, 8:55 to Baghdad was a light reading choice. I am surprised on rereading to find several very crude, sinister characters and a deep sadness about the breakdown in society and the loss of hope for some cities in Eastern Europe and Asia Minor. I had forgotten the whole "these Iraqis may die soon" aspect of the final chapters. Eames reminds us of the anxiety hanging about before the spring of 2003.

I do not often reread books other than classics like The Hobbit or The Scarlet Letter, but I can see how it can be a useful study in assessing my own memory.

Eames, Andrew. 8:55 to Baghdad. Overlook Press, 2005. ISBN 158567673X


laura said...

I love to reread books. Actually, I think I may like rereading even more than reading the first time -- I love to see the things I missed, and the things I notice the second or eight time around that I didn't notice before, and how I react to a book at different times in my life.

Doris said...

I read Eames book after the autobiography of Agatha Christie. And being Viennese, I read his nex bood "Blue River,Black Sea" where he describes travelling along the Danube. Partly a travel on the traces of Patrick Leigh Fermor. So I read Fermor too... you know, one book leads to another and another and so on.
You do a great work,
regards from Vienna,