Detour on an Elephant: A Year Dancing with The Greatest Show on Earth
by Barbara File Marangon
Ogham Books International

"Like a survivor who tells his or her version of the tale, I wanted - I somehow needed - to hold the rose again and relive my memories of that year in the circus.""

There has always been an alluring mystique about running away and joining the circus. Ballet dancer Barbara File Marangon actually did it. In her memoir, Marangon recounts how she went from dancing with the Stadttheater of Klagenfurt in Austria, to a year of performing for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Blue Unit Show in 1978. She frankly reveals her feelings: from the trepidations of the big step into a unique world ("What was I afraid of—the hard life that the circus was said to be? Being mauled by a ferocious lion or trampled by an elephant?"); to her resolve, after numerous injuries, to end her circus career ("Some decisions are not easy to make and you will always wonder afterward if it was the right one"). In between are amazing, amusing yarns: getting lost in the Wild West and begging water from men with guns, fighting swarms of flies in Oklahoma, playing to an almost empty theater in Salt Lake City, smiling while dancing on substances left by her animal co-performers, and her deep bond with an elephant named Peggy.

Marangon proves a gifted storyteller, penning her tales with humor and sensitivity, demonstrating a prodigious memory and genuine nostalgia. Her recollections run the gamut from absurd to poignant. Her writing talents coalesce with greatest verve and sentiment when recalling Peggy, the elephant she performed with for much of her stint in the circus. The author's love for her former partner is evident as she remembers her last ride on the giant beast, and her subsequent efforts to determine Peggy's fate. Detour on an Elephant is a compelling tale of life in a special ambience, from the inside. This is a must-read for fans of the circus, crazy characters, and life’s unexpected diversions.

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