travel literature (3)



Travel writing not only has the potential to compete with novels on literary merit, but to excel.  After all, it’s potentially got everything: exotic locations, true adventure, multiple story lines, peak emotion, honest reflection, and poetic insight… for starters.  So why is most of it—in short (magazine) form, anyway—so bad?  Follow the money.  No other literary genre is expected to sell peripheral products—tickets and tours and gear and (gulp) insurance—in addition to magazines and books. 

Read more…

My Four Top Non-Travel Travel Books


Some of my deepest understandings of place, my most intense sense of "being" somewhere come neither from actually being there, nor from reading a travel book about the destination.

They come from a novel or short story which, because they set out to tell a story and not to describe a location, actually create a powerful sense of time and place. 

At many  points in my life I was moved, touched by these non-travel travel books. Here are just four of them:

Travels with a Tangerine

In Travels with a Ta

Read more…

For pics, more info and similar stories see the author's music, film and books blog.

Have you ever noticed that the best travel writers never really considered themselves as such?  Look at anybody’s list of favorites and you’ll see names like Kerouac, Bowles, Matthiessen, etc. quite often, along with names like Theroux and Iyer, writers who certainly consider themselves travel writers, but not exclusively.  You’ll only rarely if ever see a guidebook writer.  But there is a historical tradition wh

Read more…