Category: Travel & Holiday / Travel Writing
Publisher: Sort of Books
Publication date: 30 May 2002
Number of pages: 240
Prizes: Shortlisted for WHSmith Book Awards (Travel Writing) 2003.
Looks back on the author's former life - the hard times shearing in midwinter Sweden (and driving across the frozen sea to reach island farms); his first taste of Spain, learning flamenco guitar as a 20-year old; and his illustrious music career.
This sequel to Chris Stewart's bestselling autobiography-with-travel Driving Over Lemons is as entertaining, instructive and delightful as its predecessor. The story starts in the frozen winter wastes of Sweden, moose-country, where Chris is sheep-shearing, a money-spinner which provides enough in a month for the family (wife Ana, five-year-old daughter Chloe) to support their rural idyll all year. The idyll takes place in an Andalusian valley in the Alpujarras, the hills below Granada known for centuries as bandit-country for their rocky remoteness. Fortunately, sheep-shearing is a skill which facilitates acceptance among a peasant community in a land of yellow-fleeced mountain sheep and not much else. But what the land does have, and in crystalline abundance, is an even more precious commodity - water, a resource which may yet prove the ruin of the valley's community as silt from the new dam moves down the mountain. The parrot of the title is actually a parakeet, Porca, who falls in love with Ana, insists on sharing the matrimonial bed and constructs a nest out of the household cutlery while attempting to murder the competition (Chris and Chloe). While his talent lies in destruction, Porca's contribution to the household is to leave no room for quarrelsomeness in others. Even young Chloe becomes more philosophical about life's random injustices - a useful function. Sideshows feature the installation of an ecologically sound swimming-pool complete with voracious carp and copulating frogs. Authorial flashbacks include being booted out of Genesis just as it was beginning to make good; a crazy episode playing drumrolls in a circus for a troupe of homicidal acrobats which leads, as these things do, to rooming in a Seville brothel while learning flamenco guitar. Lack of success brings a career-change, sheep-shearing, which leads to Andalucia and thence to literature. Smart move, as it turned out. Elisabeth Luard is the author of Still Life. (Kirkus UK)
What the papers say:
"It is everything that made the first book so hugely successful - endearing, heartwarming, self-deprecating, sometimes surreal." Evening Standard"
Chris Stewart prepared for life on a mountain farm in Spain with jobs of doubtful relevance. After leaving Genesis (he drummed on the first album), he joined a circus, learnt how to shear sheep, crewed a yacht in Greece, went to China for the Rough Guides, gained a pilot's license in Los Angeles, and completed a course in French cking. Despite the extraordinary success of his first two books, Chris, Ana and their daughter Chloe continue to live on their farm, with their numerous dogs, cats, chickens, sheep and one misanthropic parrot.
In Stock: 22 copies