I am indebted to Robyn Scott for providing the title of this post as well as the real privilege of never being bored while reading her pioneering book, Twenty Chickens for a Saddle (Penguin, $24.95). The Scott family are pioneers in the medical, scientific, and trailblazing sense of the word; now Robyn has added literary to that list! I’ve never read a book like this before, and I consider myself an avid reader. Like the Christmas trees the Scotts decorated on Molope Farm, it is a unique breed.
Molope Farm, Robyn’s childhood home, was a 2,000 acre farm in the bush of Botswana, just across the Limpopo River from South Africa. The Scott family relocated from New Zealand to Botswana when Robyn and her siblings, Damien and Lulu, were just children, but the book’s subtitle “the story of an African childhood” hardly describes the incredible story told therein. Even the most innocuous anecdote about her infamous Grandpa Ivor, a bush pilot known throughout Botswana, would seem outlandish recounted in this blog; in the book, it is a typical childhood memory!
Twenty Chickens for a Saddle is a difficult book to categorize, but a cinch to recommend. Read this book! Read it precisely for the reason that you would normally pass over it on a shelf of books by typical authors on typical subjects. Do not pass over this book! This is a reading experience that will take you far beyond your broadest horizons. Twenty Chickens for a Saddle is an ideal selection for a book club, as you will not be able to resist discussing it afterwards. You’ll probably wind up blogging about it, too!