January 14, 2013 § 9 Comments
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ROCKETS: A Memoir by Jessica Fox (Short Books, 384pp; £12.99)
The first thing you need to know is that this book is not about rockets which are (1) lethal (2) silent before they kill you with noise (3) an old story in that they take off from home for the unknown. Only the third, an old story of boldly going into the unknown, applies to Jessica Fox who left her home in Los Angeles and her job as a storyteller for NASA to work temporarily in a bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland. The rest is a rom-com. Jessica and Euan, the bookshop owner, meet cute and fall in love. You’re already thinking Ewan McGregor and Jennifer Aniston. Being a writer, Jessica Fox moves her story along Joseph Campbell’s nine steps taken on the Journey by the Hero. Jessica travels the path less taken and writes the story of her own journey to love and “freedom to live”. It’s sweet, it’s charming, it’s humorous, and (sadly) where are you now, Nora Ephron, when you’re needed to draft the film script.
THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY: The Definitive Account by Nick Russell-Pavier and Stewart Richards (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 442pp; £20)
Sometimes size is everything: the quantity and quality of your swag is what gets attention. Fifty years ago, on 8 August 1963, the Glasgow to London Royal Mail train was raided by Ronnie Biggs, Buster Edwards and Bruce Reynolds, Gordon Goody and Charlie Wilson, the best-known members of a large criminal gang who got away with £2.6 million in unmarked notes. The derring-do of the robbers became legendary. Ronnie Biggs was not exactly Robin Hood, and his gang were no merry men, but they have become a fixture in British crime folklore. We have been convulsed ever since by a mixture of outrage and admiration. In a detailed analysis of ‘The Crime of the Century’ two television producers have the grace to admit, despite the subtitle, that there can be no definitive account of such a complex coup and its long-term consequences. Nevertheless, they pin larger-than-life personalities to the social fabric of the national narrative.