- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (January 15, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312253192
- ISBN-13: 978-0312253196
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,932,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Frost on my Moustache: The Arctic Exploits of a Lord and a Loafer Hardcover – January 15, 2000
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In the 1850s, a wealthy British philanthropist by the name of Lord Dufferin sailed his yacht into the Arctic Circle and wrote the bestselling travelogue Letters from High Latitudes. In the 1990s, British writer Tim Moore decided to follow Dufferin's steps--by boat, plane, and bike. This retracing of Dufferin's travels across Iceland, into Norway, and to Spitzbergen (prompted when Moore reads the Lord's 19th-century memoir) is told in a lively, self-deprecating style and starts out brimming with funny anecdotes and interesting tidbits, particularly about Iceland, a report-happy land where the government commissions studies about "the effects of centrifugal force at roundabouts" and where "53 percent of the Icelanders believe in elves."
While Moore continues to unleash an often funny ramble about his northern excursion, something happens mid-book around the time he learns he's lost a work-related lawsuit back in England: perhaps Moore's mind is disintegrating in the polar blasts or he's lost his will to sustain an audience, but the writer's style becomes more manic, his recorded observations are frequently peppered with the base and crude, and his obsession changes from the travels of Lord Dufferin to the fate of one of Dufferin's colleagues, Wilson. The same writing voice that keeps one amused through the first half of the book starts to annoy by the end, as Moore stops providing much relevant info, and instead goes on at great lengths about the price of hot dogs, his nights of drinking and frequent bouts of nausea. Too disgusting in parts to warrant a recommendation to those easily shocked, this jumbled travelogue is nevertheless an often entertaining look into Tim Moore's personal Arctic madness. --Melissa Rossi
From Library Journal
When Moore, a writer for British Esquire, found a copy of Letters from High Latitudes (1856), Lord Dufferin's detailed, best-selling, 19th-century travel memoir of a trip to and from Iceland (on wooden schooner, horseback, and ship), he was so intrigued that he decided to retrace the journey. Instead of a schooner, Moore opted to take a freighter; instead of horseback, he road across Iceland on a mountain bike. Later, he joined a small-boat convoy that sailed from Norway back to Iceland. For the rest of the trip, he took commercial ferries. Moore is a talented writer with a keen wit and sarcastic sense of humor that is sometimes difficult to decipher amid all the contemporary British slang and allusions. There's also an introspective and dark edge to his humor not unlike Gregory Janes's in Come Hell or High Water (LJ 10/1/97). The result is an interesting travel diary--though still not as engaging as Dufferin's classic out-of-print work. For all public libraries.
-John Kenny, San Francisco P.L.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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If you are interested in the North --as in the far north including Iceland and the like-- then this is the way to go.
What does the title mean? I can't ruin it, but it's fantastic. The best ...... of all!
The rest of the book? A classic "made up" travelog in the sense that the author simply creates a journey, goes on it, and writes about it.
With style. And big words/sentences/paragraphs. And laughter. Much laughter.
The title does give a hint of his style: "Exploits of a Lord & Loafer." Accurate.
In the same way that Bill Bryson uses 3 words to conjure up the most vivid picture in my mind, Tim Moore uses complex, nearly poetic language to the same effect -- and the same laugh-out-loud guffaws of pure joy at such fantastic wit.
Cheers to Tim. Next time, I'd just like it if he used shorter sentences to keep my brain from blowing.
All this makes for an interesting premise, especially since the author is well acquainted with Iceland since his wife is Icelandic and he is able to provide some interesting insights and observations about that place. He can't exactly replicate Lord Dufferin's travels though. After all, Tim Moore doesn't have his own ship and is making his pilgrimage alone. And so he books passage on a number of commercial Norwegian vessels to get where he wants to go. Also, instead of transversing Iceland with a team of horses, he opts for a bicycle.
The whole book is intended to be humorous as the self-effacing hero sets out on his travels. Perhaps it is humorous to a British audience. But, as an American, I missed all of the jokes and even though I read some passages several times, I still was not able to understand some of the incidents he described. This surprised me because I have no trouble with Charles Dickens. But his modern-day witticisms were completely lost on me and I soon found myself getting annoyed. Mr. Moore presents himself as an out-of-shape curmudgeon and proud of it. He complains throughout about everything, and mostly about his physical discomfort. The reader is treated to long and detailed descriptions of his constant seasickness as well as every muscle ache. Most of the people he meets are disagreeable, the meals awful and the prices exorbitant. He keeps going though, trying to prove that if Lord Dufferin could do it, Tim Moore could do it too.
Along with way the I did learn a bit of history and geography about this area of the world as well as more than I ever wanted to know about Lord Dufferin. The author also did take me to a part of the Arctic I know little about, although he made it seem so bleak and cold and inhospitable that I have little interest in ever going there myself. It's too bad I didn't understand his humor because it might have brightened the bleak landscape he painted. Not recommended, especially for American readers.