Mr. Dimock Explores the Mysteries of the East: Journeys in India

Edward Cameron Dimock, Jr., Author
Edward Cameron Dimock, Jr., Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $18.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-56512-153-9
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-56512-779-1
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Dimock, an academic, has been visiting India regularly since 1955 and has plenty of interesting stories to tell about that country. However, his self-consciously cute tone gets in the way of his material. He opens the first essay, ""Hey, Hey We're the Monkeys,"" with a discussion of travel from Liverpool to India by ship in the 1950s, but it soon disintegrates into an imagined conversation between Indian ship hands along the lines of ""Shrivel your gizzard like a raisin."" In successive essays, Dimock displays a wide knowledge of the details of Indian history, culture, religion and language, but he skips from one tangent to another so quickly that his examinations fail to cut too deeply. ""Rational Chaos"" covers the temple at Konorak with its sexually explicit statues, the writer Sudhn Datta and a military reenactment known as ""Beating the Retreat."" In ""They Also Serve,"" Dimock considers the position of servants in India and the discomfort of many Westerners at being waited on, ""even with the realization that if these men were not pulling rickshaws they might not be working at all."" This essay also includes the tale of a driver who once fed the unknowing Dimock a large amount of hashish. In the end, this is an amusing collection of observations, but it is disappointing in that the author could have offered a less superficial account of the country he obviously knows so well. (Mar.)
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