At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig
A Riotous Journey into the Heart of Paraguay
By John Gimlette
Published Hutchinson, 2003 - £10.99 (paperback)
Earlier in the year I was caught out at London airport without a book to read -- a big mistake as airport bookshops are not known for their stimulating range of literature. Blockbusters, classics and self improvement seem to be the mainstay, apart from travel guides.
But I have always had a wish to visit Paraguay -- don't ask why. Perhaps it's the grasslands -- some of the most threatened habitats in South America. So when I found this book, I was immediately intrigued. I bought it and couldn't put it down. Normally having finished I would have not bothered to bring a book home, but this one I had to and I have passed it round, and others agree. It is a most usual travel book.
Combining personal anecdotes, and humour, with a history of a bizarre corner of the world. Some of its history is decidedly unpleasant, but somehow Gimlette manages to treat it sensitively, and still with humour, albeit black humour. In fact some aspects of Paraguan history are so unpleasant that this is the only way to deal with it.
Just as Bill Bryson changed the 'over here' travelogue', this one has given a new lease of life to historical background travelogues. I will not even attempt to describe its contents -- just read it for yourself. You will either want to go to Paraguay immediately (like me) or be put off for ever.
Review by John A Burton