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Bad Trips Paperback – April 16, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (April 16, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679729089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679729082
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #781,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Half the pleasure of reading the stories collected together in Bad Trips, an anthology of travel writing, is imagining the authors so wonderfully out of place! Picture Indian author Anita Desai in wintry Norway or proper British writer Jonathan Raban in a seamy Louisiana pool hall. Italian semiotician Umberto Eco in Southern California? David Mamet in the Caribbean? Before you've even started, you know it's going to be good. The stories range from laugh-out-loud funny (Martin Amis on the start of a harrowing flight from London: "When it comes to flying, I am a nervous passenger but a confident drinker and Valium-swallower. And although I wasn't exactly goosing the stewardesses or singing 'Viva Espana'... I was certainly in holiday mood....") to the poignant. (James Trevor describing his worst journey, the trip he took back to an Irish boarding school when he was 12: "By the time we reached Bunclody the odour of long-boiled cabbage that hung about the school's kitchen and dining room was beginning to mingle with the bus's exhaust fumes. By Kildavin, the noise of the play yard echoed; by Tullow, Monsieur Bertain was striking the blackboard in a fury. 'Tell us why, if you would,' the sarcastic science master invited in Rathvilly. 'Tell us why you lack intelligence.'")

Some of the authors included in this anthology are well known in other genres--Eco, Mamet, and John Updike, for example--while others such as Jan Morris and Redmond O'Hanlon have made a name for themselves primarily as travel writers; but whether you recognize the names or not, you'll find all the stories in Bad Trips well worth reading and then coming back to time and again.

From Library Journal

Editor Fraser's compilation is a slight departure from the typical travel book. It is a collection of tales from poets, novelists, and journalists about the worst journeys they have ever taken. Contributing artists and themes include James Fenton in wartime Saigon, Umberto Eco in a tacky hotel in Southern California, Jonathan Raban on a brief trip through the squalor of Louisiana, Wilfred Thesiger on a camel ride across the Arabian desert, and Anita Desai on a frigid, midwinter sojourn to a Norwegian island. The tone ranges from utter terror to outrageous humor. Entertaining and exhilarating, this book is fun for inexperienced travelers or those who have journeyed far and shared similar feelings.
- Melinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editorial Svces., Wondervu, Col.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ivy on March 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
This anthology's title is off by one letter: it should be called Sad Trips, not Bad Trips. The phrase 'bad trips' (and especially the book's front cover description: "A sometimes terrifying, sometimes hilarious collection of writing on the perils of the road") suggests to me the journeys that are hell to live through but fun to look back on, like, say, the time I spent three days trapped in the Boise, Idaho airport with what seemed to be the entire population of the state of Idaho. Those are the kinds of stories I expected from this anthology.
But in Bad Trips, the editor gives us a few funny stories along with tales alternately grim, gruesome, and depressing beyond all description. Just a few examples of the topics covered: a walk through a refugee village full of starving children, the torture, death, and dismemberment of civilians in El Salvador, the city of Hue shortly after it was destroyed by the Vietcong and American armies. These are important tales, and they need to be told, but they seem somewhat inappropriate for a book purporting to be a light-hearted, funny, travel anthology.
The editor made a few other strange decisions in assembling this collection, and while one works, most don't. I laud his attempt to include the work of some great writers, and this pays off: the selections by David Mamet, Anita Desai, Martin Amis, and John Updike are wonderful, and there's a poem by Al Purdy that every off-the-beaten-track traveler should read. But the book also includes a number of extracts from works of fiction, which jars - part of the joy of travel stories is that they're *true*.
Overall, the strength of some of the individual selections doesn't make up for the strange choices the editor has made. Look for it used, or check it out of the library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. K. Kelley on March 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
This was a book I started, got bored with, and came back to later when the book pile was about exhausted. That should tell you something: most of the stories simply weren't too enthralling. I didn't notice a lot of humour; in fact, I found very little. When I came back to finish it, I liked it a little better but not too much. Most of the stories are too short to really satisfy.
On the positive side, quite the cast of authors has been assembled, and they can indeed write. The variety of places and circumstances is impressive. I found at least half the stories interesting and worth reading.
As adventure travel, it doesn't compare to anything by Tim Cahill for excitement and uniqueness, or to William Least Heat-Moon for depth and powers of observation, but it'll do.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Stein on February 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Bad Trips is divided into various short stories by notoriously famous authors. Mamet, Geldof, Greene, and Updike, to name a few create very funny short essays of their unusual and sometimes precarious trips throughout the world. I would recommend this book to someone taking a cross-country trip for example from Seattle to Atlanta in a big van carrying unneccessary items on bald tires traveling through the winter months and sleeping in friends of friends houses while trying to use outdated maps. Anyone who has ever taken a "not as planned trip" will enjoy this book!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on September 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
A collection of travel writing, mainly excerpts from longer works, although a few are short essays, describing those trips that--well, did not seem quite so fun at the time, but make for great reading. I read this book as a primer and introduction to the writers therein, some of whom I plan to seek out later, including:
* Stuart Stevens--Reads like Mark Salzman, probably in part due to the fact that he traveled with Salzman.
* P. K. Page--Her bit on Australia was great--exactly the problems with another culture that I'm looking for.
* Norman Lewis--His Golden Earth is considered a classic of travel writing and this excerpt was enough to show some of the reasons why.
* Colin Thubron--He traveled in the USSR before the break-up. There will probably be a spate of books about the USSR now that it's easier to travel there, so this should be a fine slice of something not to be seen again, like Tibet before the Chinese takeover.
* Paul Theroux--People had already recommended Theroux to me, and this except was a confirmation.
* Mary Morris--A woman traveling alone has increased risk, and implicit bravery. This particular woman is a good writer, as well.
* Charles Nicholl--More like a one-man "60 Minutes" team--the excerpt from his investigation on the cocaine underworld of Columbia just whetted my appetite for more.
* Jonathan Raban--Sometimes our own country is the most foreign of places. Raban's trip down the Mississippi looks good.
* Gavin Young--War reportage, neither sentimental nor brusque, just frighteningly real.
* Graham Greene--I've never read any Greene until this, and given this, and his reputation, I plan to correct that.
* Eric Hansen--More Borneo, this time on foot rather than O'Hanlon's river journey. Borneo's a strange place.
* Michael Asher--This is Arabia--another bit of difficult terrain.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Humorous and well written, as would be expected, given the talent of the authors. I was also left looking at my own travels in a new light, and it had me reevaluating some of my own mishaps, which generally are, after all, what maskes travelling interesting (as long as the outcome wasn't too dire). Through this it has added to the enjoyment of my own memories. High praise, I think.
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