Thursday, January 21, 2010

Literary Bite: Rumors of Savages

A few weeks ago, Boss #3 mentioned something in passing. That she wrote a book.

Me: What? You wrote a book? Why have I not read it yet???

Her: You really want to read it?

Me: Ptche-yeah!

(Disclaimer: No, Boss #3 did not tell me to write this, or threaten me with the loss of my job if I gave her book a bad review. I’m an honest blogger - my impeccable blogger morals prevent me from using Eat, Run, Read for profit in any way!)

Rumors of Savages is more adventure-oriented than my usual type of fiction. The story reads a lot like a screenplay, or a Dan Brown novel (minus the potentially untrue fun facts). This does not surprise me, considering that the author, Carrie Regan, has a successful career in television. Each chapter might as well start with a “Cut To ____”, as the story jumps between the crew in Africa and the producers and TV station in New York.

Rumors of Savages is a fun and engaging read. There are no plot holes, and the ending ties up nicely (the end is actually almost too neat). This 212-page book flies by (I think I finished it in a generous 2 days, and my mama finished it in one).

This suspense-adventure tells the story of an ambitious TV crew, dispatched by a failing TV channel to the darkest jungles of Africa to find a missing anthropologist and a legendary and bloodthirsty lost tribe. (Check out the plot-summary here.)

Even though the book is much more plot-based than character-based, the characters feel authentic. And I know that they are (I asked). Carrie has lost a few friends due to her true portrayals of the TV business!

Even though it is clearly a work of fiction (sorry, but in the real world there are no mind-reading Bambada), the book is grounded in real-life experiences. Carrie knows about production in Africa - she's worked on documentaries in Tanzania, the Congo, and the Sahara Desert, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea.

Unlike a normal reading experience (where my unanswered questions must be satisfied by the Google-machine) this time I sit within shouting-distance for 9+ hours per day, so I could ask the author directly what was/wasn’t true (that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I don’t usually shout at Boss #3…)

So, for your benefit, here are some questions answered:

Prominent scientist toasting to “famine, disease, and war in Africa” because it “keeps the human population down”?

True. That happened. (Wow, that’s horrifying)

Young female associate producer left in the jungle alone with no radio/phone for the night?

Partially true. Carrie was left to spend a night with no way to reach the outside world. But she had one other person with her.

Crossing a shaky log over a fast-moving crocodile-infested river?


Weird missionaries?

True. (But the cookie part is fictional.)

Late-night trysts with cameramen?


Carrie: I have never slept with a cameraman, and neither should you. They’re all dirty chauvinist pigs. (Duly noted. Not that I was planning on it...)

If you’re looking for a good light fun adventure read – Rumors of Savages is your book.

According to Amazon: Ever watch a television documentary featuring a rugged host sloshing through a distant jungle and wonder what was really going on behind the scenes? …[Carrie Regan] now spins a spooky, satirical page-turner in which one such fictional expedition goes horribly wrong. Inspired by Regan's own encounters in the field and infused with insider details, RUMORS OF SAVAGES will have you sleeping with the lights on--and never looking at documentaries the same way again.