Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

March 21, 1993|CHRIS GOODRICH

ONE ZERO CHARLIE: Adventures in Grass Roots Aviation by Laurence Gonzales (Simon & Schuster: $20; 262 pp.). Laurence Gonzales probably doesn't think of himself as a travel writer, but in "One Zero Charlie" he has produced a first-rate travel book, one that makes others pale by comparison. The conventional travel writer relates his experiences in another, usually exotic culture; Gonzales goes one better by guiding us through a culture that film and television has made familiar--the world of airplane aficionados--yet makes it radiantly new. "One Zero Charlie" is a small-scale version of Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" or Norman Mailer's "Of a Fire on the Moon," and in many ways it's better, because Gonzales, an experienced pilot himself, isn't mesmerized by flying's romance and melodrama. The book certainly has its thrills--emergency landings, conflagrations, walk-away crashes and horrific death rides--but Gonzales doesn't play them for effect; they are just unavoidable features of the attempt to live a more exhilarating, more expansive life. As the author of three previous novels, Gonzales knows how to develop a story and deploy his themes (especially that of fire) to powerful effect; as a journalist, he's collected all kinds of stories about obsession and equipment; as a pilot, he knows the fears and seductions of flying inside out. Armchair reading, in short, doesn't get much better than this.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|