Rhyddhawyd Howard Marks o garchar Terre Haute, Indiana, yn Ebrill 1995, wedi treulio saith mlynedd o'i ddedfryd 25-mlynedd, am smyglo marijuana. Roedd hi'n amser iddo newid gyrfa. Felly, ysgrifennodd dau lyfr a aeth i frig y siartiau, bu'n ysgrifennu am chwaraeon ac am deithio, safodd etholiadau seneddol, a chynhaliodd gyfres o nosweithiau yn diddanu cynulleidfaoedd.
Howard Marks was released from Terre Haute Penitentiary, Indiana in April 1995 after serving seven years of a twenty-five year sentence for marijuana smuggling. It was time for a change of career. So he wrote two best-selling books, became a sports writer and travel writer, stood as a parliamentary candidate, and embarked on a long-running sell-out series of one man shows.
If you have already encountered Howard Marks in the pages of his previous books, Mr Nice and The Howard Marks Book of Dope Stories, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from this, his latest autobiographical work. If you have not read either then a small word to the wise: he was, until imprisoned for seven years in the USA (he was released in 1995), an international drug smuggler and still promotes the taking and legalisation of drugs at every opportunity and often describes, with great relish, the physical and psychological effects they induce. This may or may not detract from your enjoyment of this book, but please don’t let this deter you from reading it, because Howard Marks is a well-informed and entertaining writer.
Fuelled by tales told by his elderly aunts of ancestors that might include Billy the Kid and almost certainly include a Chicago gangster, Bugs Moran’s first lieutenant, and also intrigued by the Welsh buccaneer, Henry Morgan’s history, he was given the opportunity to follow up his obsessions when a national newspaper asked him to write another travel article for them: ‘Somewhere in South America Brazil, Panama or Argentina. Take your pick.’ He chose Panama.
How he ended up in Patagonia and what he discovered there, about his ancestors and himself, is a convoluted and enthralling odyssey. His intellect, knowledge and powers of observation, honed by studying at Oxford, London and Sussex universities where he gained a Master’s degree in nuclear physics and postgraduate qualifications in philosophy, enable him to discourse knowledgeably on many topics. The book is, in part, a travelogue, with many history lessons thrown in for good measure, but these are never boring, especially when enlivened by comments from his Welsh mates. ‘“Well, now they finally have the proof,” said Eddie Evans, the village sage. “Elvis was Welsh” . . . “Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? His mother’s name was Gladys, and they’ve now found out that his surname a few generations back was Preseli, same as the mountains in Pembroke” . . .’
In addition, he has a very individual descriptive style. ‘The Chagres is a river which displays no respect for the regular business of rivers, that of getting to the ocean with as little bother as possible. Although its source is just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, it meanders about and avoids any chance of a short cut. Thick jungle rolls to the river’s edge and suddenly stops like a frozen green wave.’
We also get to meet his wide band of friends, ranging from the pop and clubbing scenes to media and political contacts. He is even on very good terms with some of the Great Train robbers. And then there are all the interesting and colourful people that he encounters on his journey . . .
Small sections of this book may be somewhat shocking but they are more than eclipsed by the overall high quality of the content.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.