First published in 1956, The Ascent of Rum Doodle quickly became established as mountaineering classic. As an outrageously funny spoof about the ascent of a 40,000-and-a-half-foot peak, many thought it inspired by the 1953 conquest of Everest. But Bowman had drawn on the flavour and tone of earlier adventures, of Bill Tilman and his 1937 account of the Nandi Devi expedition. The book's central and unforgettable character, Binder, is one of the finest creations in comic literature.
©1989 W. E. Bowman (P)2010 Random House Audiobooks
This book is a brilliant send up of mountaineering memoirs or, indeed, any pompous memoirs by adventurers to exotic places. The characters are hilariously eccentric, the story is replete with recurring jokes and silly (but worthwhile!) digressions, and the prose is exquisite. Even the place names are funny. You can tell it was a labor of love -- W.E. Bowman must have thrown everything he had into this book ad honed it to perfection.
It's an ensemble work, so having to pick a favorite character is like having to pick a favorite member of Monty Python. They're all quite droll, especially the leader of the group (nicknamed "Binder").
The narrator is superb -- he does a deadpan, stiff upper lip tone perfectly, injecting just the right tone of gravity to make the account absurdly funny. It's a great performance. I'd rather listen to him doing this book than attend most Broadway shows.
There are many laugh out loud moments, e.g. when "Jungle," the perpetually lost navigator, is unable to find his way through London to the group's initial meeting. The recurring jokes do verge on repetitive at times, but it's a sustained and suspenseful narrative, and it's not long. It's well worth the time invested.
Cute British giggles.
Each was great in there own way.
As an American, It takes a little while to learn the British-isms, but it is well worth it.
Great story. I had a lot of fun just listing to the narrator, who seemed to own the part. Billy wasn’t wrong when he said this was a find!
Binder of course!
If only Bill Bryson had narrated the book instead of just writing the introduction, this book might have been a good fit for a family trip.
"The funniest book you've never heard of."
This book has always been the funniest I've ever known, mixing hilarity with cheerful obliviousness and beautiful prose written in a simpler time.
"Classic British humour of a bygone age"
Probably, it was a really easy listen enjoyable romp featuring the unique 'Britishness' of the early 20th century and is not afraid to laugh at itself. If I was in need of a very silly, funny and under it all, heartwarming tale that is not taxing to the mind, doesn't make you think too much this would be my first choice. I can see myself listening to this again while I work and scaring the horses laughing.
It would really depend on the friend. To be clear, this is not up everybody's street. But if a friend shared my enjoyment of this type of comedy rooted in classic Britishness then absolutely I would recommend.
Clear, fun and very british. I keep going on about this Britishness thing and even though I am British myself and live in England what I am referring to is the overblown stereotype of early 20th century, public school educated with RP English accents. The reading brought every bit of that out and gave a life to the story that would have been lost if I was reading the book myself.
I am not sure at all that this book would work as a film. But if it did I think it would be:Do YOU have a fiancee?
I heard about this book through Radio 4 book of the week. The story and comments it received on the show grabbed my interest. I started hoping for a silly romp full of classic British humour and I got just that. Think Carry on film without the adult humour and smuttiness.
The funniest book I've ever read. This should be much better known about . A classic !
Brilliant fun story. The best of British satirical wit. Should be read by all right thinking englishmen.
"Deserves it's legendary status"
Travel writing for the armchair humorist with a fantastic cast of endearingly caricatured characters and steady stream of running jokes that perfectly apes the earnest, serious travel writing of its time. Shades of PG Wodehouse, Dad's Army, J.K. Jerome and more.
It's amazing that this book is not more widely known but its obscurity makes it very pleasant surprise. I just wish someone would read / record the sequel - Cruise of the Talking Fish.
"A work of genius"
This is a classic and one of the funniest books I've ever read. Beautifully entertaining.
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