with a Goodly Amount of Murder
by Edward Chupak
*** About the Book ***
Remember Long John Silver, the pirate cook/captain from Robert Louis Stevenson's TREASURE ISLAND? This is his story, written down by him after he's been captured and is being transported to England to be hung. We learn about his childhood, how he first went to sea, and his eventual "promotion" to captain, all in his own words. But more than that, and sprinkled between the parts of his life, he includes all the ciphers that led him to find the Treasure Island treasure, and how he decoded them. And he may or may not have left clues to the new location of that treasure in his tale ...
*** Why I Read It ***
I first heard of this book in an email from Bookmovement.com back in January 2009. The blurb from the author really intrigued me. Here's an excerpt:
Why are people attracted to tyrants and malevolent individuals? Is there such a thing as "negative charisma"? How do we account for all of the evil in this world? [...] Long John Silver is charming, likable, witty, funny, strong, good with a sword and a pistol. He rises from low beginnings to great wealth and power. He is a hero by our standard definitions of a hero, and yet...he is greedy, murderous, duplicitous, scheming and treacherous. [...] He seeks a unique treasure, spending most of his life solving the riddles and ciphers that will bring him the ultimate prize. What drives him to commit unspeakable acts?
*** My Thoughts ***
This book took a few chapters to really capture my attention but when it did, I was hooked.
From the first page I was immersed in pirate-speak. I must admit that it was a bit overwhelming at first, but once I got into the mood of the book the language began to make a lot of sense and (more importantly) to feel right.
Long John Silver has been captured and is suffering from a raging fever that makes it hard for him to write down his story. Because of this, the tale jumps from topic to topic, from reminiscences of the past to interactions with the cabin boy who is bringing him meals during his imprisonment. This too took a bit of getting used to, but it worked for me in the end.
To help me recall the original story, I listened to an audiobook of TREASURE ISLAND whenever I wasn't actually reading this book. It helped me to recognize minor characters in SILVER and see why they might be significant. It isn't until the very end of SILVER that the events of TREASURE ISLAND occur, and when they do they are significantly different from the original tale (but with good reason).
Chupack took a famous, and dare I say well-loved character -Long John Silver, and gave him a life and a story of his own ... and a very entertaining one at that. Not to say that the book didn't have it's flaws, but on the whole I very much enjoyed it.
*** Your Thoughts ***
If you've read this one, what did you think of it? The only other review I found was at Blue Archipelago, and she really enjoyed it as well.
Have you read any other books that are "true stories" of fictional characters? Would you recommend any in particular?