EVEN LONGER ODDS - A LIFETIME IN AVIATION

DENIS LONG HAS had an extended career in aviation, serving chiefly, it would seem, as Sales Manager with seven airlines in some pretty far-flung and exotic places (Sierra Leone, Uganda, Maldives), and in the days when relatively rudimentary facilities and communications provided plenty of challenges and awkward, even bizarre, situations. This book is number three in a projected series of six that the author has been self-publishing at the rate of one every two years since the first, Long Odds, was published in 1996. Second in the series was Longer Odds, while three others are in preparation. I have not read either of the earlier works, but if the selected review quotes accompanying this review copy are anything to go by they were well received. Many of the short anecdotes collected here are from the author's own adventures, while others are the result of trawling through the experiences of his friends and colleagues. The scope is pretty broad, with the odd joke about the Irish army liberating ostriches from Kuwait zoo, or the technophobe searching for the 'any' key on his computer keyboard providing variety, but the majority of the tales, jokes, cartoons and startling facts have an aviation link--even if it is a little tenuous in some cases. Sized to fit handily in a flight case, it is illustrated with cartoons and small, but quite clear, black-and-white photos. The cover illustration, ...

DENIS LONG HAS had an extended career in aviation, serving chiefly, it would seem, as Sales Manager with seven airlines in some pretty far-flung and exotic places (Sierra Leone, Uganda, Maldives), and in the days when relatively rudimentary facilities and communications provided plenty of challenges and awkward, even bizarre, situations.

This book is number three in a projected series of six that the author has been self-publishing at the rate of one every two years since the first, Long Odds, was published in 1996. Second in the series was Longer Odds, while three others are in preparation. I have not read either of the earlier works, but if the selected review quotes accompanying this review copy are anything to go by they were well received.

Many of the short anecdotes collected here are from the author's own adventures, while others are the result of trawling through the experiences of his friends and colleagues. The scope is pretty broad, with the odd joke about the Irish army liberating ostriches from Kuwait zoo, or the technophobe searching for the 'any' key on his computer keyboard providing variety, but the majority of the tales, jokes, cartoons and startling facts have an aviation link--even if it is a little tenuous in some cases.

Sized to fit handily in a flight case, it is illustrated with cartoons and small, but quite clear, black-and-white photos. The cover illustration, clearly a sales picture showing models of the Airbus range clustered round a satellite terminal, jars a little, given the book's whimsical content, but it is nice enough. Print quality throughout is good.

Not all the reminiscences are intended to be funny; some serve to illustrate a point that the author wants to make--about the paradoxical number of units of measurement used in aviation, for example--or to recount potentially perilous encounters with indigenous wildlife or altercations with tourists or local folk. A few of the latter incidents treat some other races in a rather condescending fashion, which I found a little uncomfortable.

However, much of the book is clearly hoped to raise at least a wry smile. In his short introduction, Mr Long acknowledges that humour is hard to write and that what makes one reader laugh out loud may leave another with his sides very much unsplit. Humour is a very subjective thing, and, while some of the incidents and little rhymes elicited a chuckle from this reviewer, I'm sorry to say that rather more of them left me moving swiftly on.

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Perhaps tighter editing would have helped to compress more of the good stuff into fewer books--or perhaps the stories would have been improved by some sort of narrative thread to hold them together. Many of them just don't seem strong enough to stand alone. I can't help thinking that, judging by the reviews of the earlier books that came with this copy, the well of Mr Long's material, which may have flowed richly to start with, is starting to run just a little lean (if I may mix my metaphors). Judging by the content of this one, and those reviews, I would be inclined to actively seek out the first of the series, but would look more warily at this and later ones before parting with my cash--though I can't comment on value for money as there was no price on the review copy.