Freed from the catacombs, Ol' Matty is now pursued by a vengeful M16 packing bear and has somehow used his "charms" to befriend a secret kingdom of hunters. Surprisingly civil, Ol' Matty decides to repay them with a Delicious Word Sandwich, regaling the story of King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard, which can only go well because it's not too colonialist. Idiot.
Published in 1886 on a five shilling wager that he could write a story as good as Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, H. Rider Haggard became the penultimate pioneer of what would become the lost world genre, which would go on to inspire The Man Who Would Be King, The Lost World and eventually even Indiana Jones. Now, we watch how Ol' Matty, who idolises Indy, dances around not associating himself with big game hunting. Dance, ya hunter, dance.
He tells the tale of King Solomon's Mines, the story of famed hunter Alan Quatermain and his friends travelling to the secret kingdom of Kukuanaland, fighting to return the rightful king to the throne and discovering the fabled diamond treasure. One of the original and archetypal old fashioned adventure stories that few could balk at, and yet Ol' Matty's new friends seem utterly outraged.
In a turn of events that was truly shocking, it seems this was a radical sect of the tribe from the story that were still loyal to the usurped king and his diabolical witch general, and thus it was that Ol' Matty had to make yet another hare brained, and bear pawed, escape.
Now, you may ask about the bear paws. He cut off the bears hands, the bear ate his other human hand, Matt sewed the paws on crudely and they have since been surgically integrated into his body proper thanks to the tribe's liquid diamond technology. He asked after the procedure, naturally, if new human hands were possible (they totally were). All the same, Ol' Matty has created a wonderfully delicious word sandwich with all the danger and mystery of Haggard's iconic lost world adventure, hunting through the jungles of history (bread), story (meat), characters (cheese), themes (sauce) and his final thoughts (seasoning). On the run from both the bear and the tribe, he may have forgotten to add salad. One step forward, two steps backward and into their awaiting spears? One can only hope.
King Solomon's Mines (1885) is a rollicking adventure by the English Victorian adventure writer and fabulist Sir H. Rider Haggard. It tells of a search of an unexplored region of Africa by a group of adventurers led by Allan Quatermain for the missing brother of one of the party, with startling imagery and visceral adventure around every corner. It is the first English adventure novel set in Africa, and is considered to be the genesis of the Lost World literary genre. Just keep the colonial/imperialist undertone in the back of the mind, taking the whole thing with a grain of salt. Note, add a little salt to sandwich.
Love stories? Love hearing about the tales of old with Ol' Matty but want to know them yourself? Want to join the Book Club Sandwich but don't have the time or desire to sit down and read? Well, you dolt, check out Audible, where you can drive to your destination and faraway lands all at once. P.S. Audible, please sponsor me.
For more short stories like the one featured here, All Will Be Well by Yiyun Li, see The New Yorker either online or subscribe to have the magazine delivered for those delectable morning reads. You sponsor me too, New Yorker. Look at me GO.
I have only ever read the book with my own eyeballs so I can't personally vouch for any version on Audible, however there is an Audible exclusive, which are always exceptionally produced, narrated by Toby Stevens.
Ol' Matty's sources: