An obsequious, chastened Pious brought him the gin on the stoop. Morgan poured two inches into a glass full of ice, added some bitters and a dash of water. He hated the drink but it seemed the apt thing to do; end of a tropical day, sundowners and all that.
That’s not the way to mix a Pink Gin. William Boyd, born in 1952, was brought up in Ghana and Nigeria and knows the drill. In this short story, Next Boat from Douala, Morgan is First Secretary at Nkongsamba’s Deputy High Commission. Boyd is adding a further brushstroke to his portrait of him as an unhappy outsider. In fact Morgan went on to greater things. He is the anti-hero of Boyd’s first novel, A Good Man in Africa.
I have taken Boyd’s collection of short stories as holiday reading erroneously believing it to be a novel. Short stories are splendid so long as they are written by Damon Runyon, Saki or PG Wodehouse. Small doses of other authors may be taken, but only in moderation.
My other holiday reading is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It is his second novel, published in 2014, and won him a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the following year. I have just started – only on page seven – and it’s promising. Incidentally I’m drinking Ouzo and water. I forgot to pack Angostura Bitters and half – or full – bottles of whiskey are not available in Lidl in Nuremberg.
But I think I’m into something good with Anthony Doerr.