1 (edited by Michael McDermott 30-Jul-2011 11:56:12)

Topic: Novels set on the overland

Phooey. I had written on this, and lost it somehow.

Start again.

After posting about the new Sundowners site, I browsed to see if I could find any other links to those days, and found the following:


Its a summary of a book called Overland, about an American couple who are about to get married, but wisely the girl decided to live a bit before dying of boredom as a doctor's wife, and heads off on a Magic Bus towards Kathmandu. Her fiance chases her, and in Kabul they get caught up in the Soviet invasion of December 1979.

Even though I don't usually read novels, I might get this one because we were caught up in the Saur Revolution in April 1978, and it would be interesting to compare our fact with that fiction. My driver was Brendon Reid, who had the grisly sight of a local being squelched by tanks in front of him when he was coming back to our hotel from the bus park. My hotel (the Mustafa?) had possibly the best view of the revolution, as the Presidential Palace was on the other side of the square. From my room's balcony, we watched Migs flying in and attacking the clock tower etc in the palace and other son et lumiere features such as tanks et al.

One of my passengers, a Scot, got hit on the leg there by a piece of shrapnel from one of the many explosions but, as he was the tough sort of Scot (is there any other?), it bounced off him (although it did draw a tiny bit of blood). Apart from that, no-one in the group was hurt, but many locals were; we could hear the firing squads going off in the prison the next morning.

The late (and great) Travers Cox, who was then the Pennworld Operations Manager and who went on to found Explore Worldwide, was there at the same time, and helped sort things out to the extent that I think our group was the first westerners into Pakistan out of there. We later found out that questions were asked in the Australian House of Parliament about why we were there at the time. I felt like saying, "well, before we went into Afghanistan, I rang the President and asked, 'excuse me sir, we are about to visit your country; are you, perchance, expecting a coup over the next week or so?' and he replied 'no, I don't think so; come on in!' "

Unfortunately, Homer Simpson and "D-oh" were still many years ahead.

ANYWAY!! There was another novel set on the overland about a passenger going missing. It was mentioned here a couple of years ago. Does anyone remember it? I might as well buy that at the same time.


Re: Novels set on the overland

Found it! The other novel is called "The Vanishing of Ruth", by Janet MacLeod Trotter. She also has an Overland Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Overlande … 115?ref=ts

Now, where's my credit card ...


Re: Novels set on the overland

We probably all could write books about the overland, but somehow the words never come as fast as the memories.

What an amazing time to be where we were.


Re: Novels set on the overland

>somehow the words never come as fast as the memories

Well put! I remember telling Tom Sawyer on a trip that I was going to write a book on the overland. Still haven't, but hey, it's only 30-odd years ago! Cut me some slack here!

Tom had some good stories to tell. As you said, Kit, we could probably each fill a book with our own adventures. Did Tom ever tell you about the time he was driving an empty bus west, and when he stopped at the Afghani - Iran border the truckie in front of him was nabbed trying to smuggle drugs and was summarily shot? Then it was Tom's turn to be checked. "Hi guys, lovely day! Friend! Friend! Me GOOD friend!"


5 (edited by Michael McDermott 30-Jul-2011 12:09:15)

Re: Novels set on the overland

Yesterday I received the "Overland" novel from Amazon.com, and read it, which only took a few hours. Good story, fast-moving, easy to read, and formatted in bite sized chunks. There was even an Australian road crew member called Michael, but he went by Mick not Mike and drove a Magic Bus. Some proofreading glitches detract, but only by somewhere between a smidgeon and a tad.

I mentioned above that I wanted to compare my experiences with his fiction. There were a few more stray bombs when the story gets to Kabul than I remember in the Saur revolution. While there were plenty of bombs then, I don't remember any stray ones. Those dudes seemed to know what they were doing (except for the above-mentioned tank driver).

Also, we weren't mobbed by reporters when we got out, whereas Danny, the novel's hero, was.

The author dedicated his book "to all of those adventurous travelers who came away with life changing impressions and lived the experience that is the wonder of the road".

That is, to us at this website.

Why, thank you, Mark Stephen Levy!


Re: Novels set on the overland

No fair, Janet MacLeod Trotter! I finished reading "The Vanishing of Ruth" at three-twenty this morning.

I more than loved it; I lived it.

Lots of references to places I recall- KC's etc. And the characters are so right. Cassidy reminded me of one or two drivers I once knew, and the other characters of several punters.

If I have recovered enough by the weekend, I'll write a review in Amazon.com. Between then and now though, I will need many, many cups of coffee to retain some vestiges of consciousness through working hours.

In the interview with the author at the end, she says "The overland trip is just a three month snap shot in the lives of the characters and yet it had a profound impact on them and the consequences are still reverberating a generation later."

As shown elsewhere on this website (which, by the way, gets an indirect mention in the book), that is certainly the case with me - with one of my overlands in particular. But in my case, the  reverberations are far happier than in the novel.

Time for me to shut up; no spoilers.