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Marching Powder by Rusty Young

Marching Powder by Rusty YoungTravel books are my equivalent of Mills and Boon or ‘Chick Lit’. Light hearted, easy to read novels that excite the travel bug in me and allow me to become a traveller from the safety of my couch when I’m in between those fortunate times my backpack gets dusted off for a new adventure.

I read a lot of travel literature, and there are some good ones out there like Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures, Absurdistan and Geoff Dyer’s Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It.

There are also some not so good ones, like To A Mountain in Tibet (I recently reviewed – see previous entries) and the one that made me want to stab the author in the eye and lament the fact that tree had to die for the 238 pages of drivel he slapped together: Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?

But I don’t believe that any travel book has kept me so captivated as Marching Powder by Rusty Young. This one has been on my ‘to read’ list for many years, but sometimes when you’re reviewing books you get bogged down in literature you don’t always want to read. So when I finished off the last two books I had to review for the year (taking a break), I couldn’t wait to crack the cover of this one.

It’s the story of Thomas McFadden, a British cocaine trafficker who is caught and charged with trafficking 800g (was actually 5kg) of cocaine out of Bolivia. This story is of his time in the infamous San Pedro prison and shocking and also funny stories from within it’s walls.

I picked this book up on Friday and finished it Saturday. There are very few books that keep me entertained for two straight days where Internet and TV sometimes find a way to interrupt, but Marching Powder did it. I even spent all of Saturday at my boyfriend’s house on the couch turning page after page, sometimes sharing a particular story, while he cleaned his house. I was a nice enough girlfriend to go with him to the laundromat, but even then we sat side-by-side waiting in silence while we read our respective novels.

Marching Powder was one of those novels that I was sad to close the cover on and found myself at a loss with it no longer in my life. I have since started reading another book, but it fails to hold sense of charm that being in San Pedro prison did – although it is John Birmingham’s follow up to Felafel, so judging from his experience in share houses they don’t seem too dissimilar to prison conditions.

If was going to recommend any book to read this year, Marching Powder would be the one.