Gimlette, John 1963-
GIMLETTE, John 1963-
Attorney, writer, photographer. Practices law in London, England.
Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, 1997, for "Pink Pigs in Paraguay."
At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels through Paraguay, Hutchinson (London, England), 2003.
Contributor of articles and photographs to periodicals, including Condé Nast Traveler, Spectator, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Wanderlust, and Geographical.
Attorney and travel writer John Gimlette's first book, At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels through Paraguay, was called "wry and well-executed" by Chris Springer in International Travel News. Gimlette, who first visited Paraguay at the age of eighteen, explores the history and geography of the nearly impenetrable, landlocked country that spans dense jungles crossed by raging rivers. He also studies the individuals who do and have contributed to its aura and mystery, including cannibalistic tribes, Nazi war criminals, missionaries, Islamic extremists, and leaders like gluttonous Francisco Lopez (1826-1870) and his Irish mistress, Eliza Lynch. He notes that Lopez warred with powerful neighboring countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, nearly destroying his own in the process, and once even threatened to execute his own mother.
"Gluttony, indeed, is a theme in this book," commented Miranda France in the Spectator. "Did you know that Paraguay is the world's greatest importer of Scotch whiskey? Apart from having revolting table manners, many of the people Gimlette meets are swilling in booze." Gimlette notes that nine out of ten men and four-fifths of the entire population of Paraguay were killed in one war alone. He also reveals that the profits from the black market continue to exceed the gross national product in a country with a national railway system but no trains. He further writes of the creatures specific to the country, including the coatimundi, with its dangerous claws. Booklist contributor Keir Graff, who called the book "fascinating and compulsively readable," said that the author's prose "has an almost cartoonish cast at times … yet sometimes he turns a perfect phrase." Joe Sargent added in Geographical that "part of Gimlette's talent is his ability to portray complicated events and horrific people and the unpleasant things they've done in a darkly comic manner without ever seeming glib."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2004, Keir Graff, review of At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels through Paraguay, p. 812.
Geographical, April, 2004, Jo Sargent, review of At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, p. 85.
International Travel News, Chris Springer, review of At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, p. 95.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, p. 1436.
Library Journal, February 15, 2004, Lee Arnold, review of At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, p. 150.
Publishers Weekly, December 22, 2003, review of At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, p. 50.
Spectator, January 25, 2003, Miranda France, review of At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, p. 50.
John Gimlette Home Page,http://www.johngimlette.com (August 18, 2004).*