“In one wicked motion, the head whips around, the mouth opens wide ad the teeth sink into the flesh between Steve Daskam’s thumb and index finger. Daskam shrieks and squeezes the back of the snake’s head with his other hand to force the slitherer to withdraw its fangs before the rest of us can quite compute what has happened, our flashlights spinning like circus spotlights trying to focus. Ignoring the oozing blood and what ever stinging pain he endures, Daskam uses his bleeding hand to regrip the hissing 11-foot-Burmese python and shove it into a teal pillowcase. Then he starts to laugh.”
I defy anybody not to want to continue reading this story, which runs in the May issue of Hemispheres. It’s about diesel mechanic Daskam and his friend, high-school teacher Devin Belliston, and their hobby hunting pythons in the Florida Everglades. Not only is this legal but it’s actually encouraged by the authorities because the reptiles are an invasive species that has been wrecking havoc on the delicate local swampy ecosystem through the strangling and swallowing of small mammals and other indigenous critters. It does what the best stories do, which is to immerse the reader in a whole other totally engrossing world they previously knew nothing about. You can read the rest of the piece by clicking on the pages below.
There’s another great piece of writing in this issue but of a very different kind in Boyd Farrow’s travel essay ‘Modern Inconveniences’. Boyd used to edit CNBC European Business magazine for Ink where he’s remembered as a pugnacious grouch and it’s great that he hasn’t mellowed any:
“By my reckoning, there has not been a single positive technological innovation in hotels since the introduction of the passenger elevator in the mid 19th-century. All the same, hotels have insisted on introducing a succession of useless gadgets, ranging from the trouser press to the bathroom telephone. A phone in the WC? What kind of emergency are they envisaging?”
Also this issue, changes in the magazine’s tent-pole cover feature Three Perfect Days.
Not only has the design been upgraded, the presentation of the story has switched from second-person narrative (“Your destination is the red-dirt hills of southwestern Guam…”) to first-person, which allows this issue’s traveller Chris Wright to fully indulge himself:
“A highlight of the tour is a 17th-century convent that supports itself by making and selling cookies – commerce that’s complicated by the fact that the nuns must never be seen by non-nuns. I wander the hallways in search of a nun-run cookie shop, then come a cross a murky little room with a hole in the wall, inside of which stands a circular wooden contraption. It spins and a box appears. I put 10 euros down and it spins again. “Receipt!” I shout into the hole.”
It’s like the inflight version of The New Yorker. (Posted by AndrewH)