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On Celtic Tides: One Man's Journey Around Ireland by Sea Kayak - Chris Duff

Updated: Aug 5, 2023


2 Stars

Celtic Tides

I will admit that I did not get finish the book. I got about two thirds, before I got too bored with the author's writing style.


The plot just doesn't flow, the descriptions of the scenery are unnecessarily wordy to the point that you say to yourself, "please get on with the story." The author's descriptions of his feelings and impressions during the journey are convoluted don't make it very clear what is the message he is trying to convey.


The narrative feels at times like a hippie experiencing a marijuana high. He says things like, "Oh this rock is amazing; it speaks to me. This abandoned monastery with the roof blown off is a holy shrine from ancient wise monks, incredible! I am so connected to the ancient spirits." The overly descriptive style quickly degenerates into scrambled word salad without clear direction. It's as if the author is constantly getting distracted by shinny objects and forgets what he was doing or where he was going.


There are a lot of loose ends in the story. Sometimes you read a whole set of paragraphs where the author is developing an idea, and then it never gets brought up again, and you are left thinking, "how does this relate to the overall ark of the story? why did I spend time reading this?" You never find out.


On one description the author compares him changing clothes being akin to changing his life's direction. I guess you could compare it like that, but would you really? You change clothes all the time, it's not a meaningful transformation, at least not in the way he describes it.

Lastly, there are some sections of the book where the author is providing some historical background on the history of Ireland, and the Northern Ireland conflict, that seem to be written in a different style, as though they were part of a Wikipedia article (technically it could not be that as the book was written in the 1990s) and they seem very mechanical. The author has a few great story to tell with anecdotes like the time he had to save a child out of the water that add flavor to the story, but the book needs a good editor to shape it into a coherent a theme and narrative.

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