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The Best American Travel Writing 2013 Paperback – October 8, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Best American
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547808984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547808987
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love, 2006), guest editor of the latest volume in this always rich yearly anthology, boldly avers that she chose travel stories that “were told the most marvelously in 2012.” To her, each piece “contains awe in strong enough doses to render the reader enchanted, delighted, compelled, or forever unsettled.” Such strong billing is not misleading, as readers will learn when they step into the pages of such delights as John Jeremiah Sullivan’s beautifully eloquent “A Prison, a Paradise” (from the New York Times Magazine), about travel to Cuba (“I’ve never stood on a piece of ground as throbbingly, even pornographically, generative”); Colleen Kinder’s “Blot Out” (from Creative Nonfiction), a punchy, even scary, account of a Western woman trying to pass as Muslim on the streets of Cairo; David Sedaris’ hilarious account of dentistry in Paris, “Dentists without Borders” (from the New Yorker); and Marie Arana’s gripping and sobering report on gold mining in Peru, “Dreaming of El Dorado” (from Virginia Quarterly Review). All the pieces included here are treasures of excellent writing, regardless of genre. --Brad Hooper

Review

Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love, 2006), guest editor of the latest volume in this always rich yearly anthology, boldly avers that she chose travel stories that “were told the most marvelously in 2012.” All the pieces included here are treasures of excellent writing, regardless of genre. – Booklist

The latest installment of the travel-writing series upholds the tradition of world-expanding excellence.The wonder continues in the fact that, regardless of subject, each story takes its place in the collection proudly and deservedly. – Kirkus


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Customer Reviews

Read the book and make your own decision, but I don’t think you will even care.
Schuyler T Wallace
All of these pieces are very good, alive and full of tremendous details, especially Dukes' account.
Matt M. Martin
I found the best travel writing last year and it was one of my favorite reads of the year.
Mark P. Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Bristol VINE VOICE on October 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the preface, one of the editors of "Best American Travel Writing 2013" Elizabeth Gilbert describes writing an article that she believed was inherently so intriguing that it would just write itself. Unfortunately, the opposite proved true, until Gilbert realizes that all stories "need a fully engaged narrator." Fortunately, this is true of almost every piece in this book.

You may think of writing that describes the setting foremost as travel writing (I did), but the pieces in this book focus on political and economic issues, too. In "The Year I Didn't," Daniel Tyx, describes what happens when a narrator does not in fact take the planned trip but only plans and thinks about it. Another "A Farewell to Yarns," by Ian Frazier focuses on exploring the contrast between traveling in the pre-digital age and the present. Do these really qualify as "travel writing"? They are certainly enjoyable, but your opinion may vary.

The pieces I personally enjoyed the most include:

"The Way I've Come," by Judy Copeland, a poignant account of being guided through New Guinea by five young girls, as she explores what has attracted her since childhood about being lost.

"The Paid Piper," Grant Stoddard's account of leading a group of strangers on a free sample tour through New York City.

"Dentists Without Borders," by David Sedaris, concerning his experiences with the France health care system. ("For my $50, I want to leave the doctor's office in tears, but instead I walk out feeling like a hypochondriac.")

"The Pippiest Place on Earth," by Sam Anderson about Dickens World, an actual theme park with a "Great Expectations" ride through a sewer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By coconutbunny on November 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was expecting better writings. Especially, after Elizabeth Gilbert saying how an interesting story can be told in a boring way and a not so exciting story can be told magically. I really had to agree with her so I was looking forward to this collection. But it was a disappointment. Literature is so subjective. It might bring more joy to others but it is not a book I would recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By atmj TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a wonderful mix of travel-oriented stories and the second time I have gotten this anthology. I find the editor really sets the tone. This editor Elizabeth Gilbert is known for the book and movie; Eat, Pray, Love that extolls her story of personal discovery through travel.
This I feel is also the theme in the stories that she choose for this years set of stories.
From the "Running of the Bulls in Pamplona" and giving a woman a true sense what testosterone feels like to a writer's story about not traveling and how his year panned out. You see in each the writer has discovered a new facet of themselves. There was the story of the hiker that went from seeing her guides as children and then learning to trust them with her life to the women who wandered through Cairo first dressed as Western women and enduring the harassment of the local men, to then doing so under cover of a niqab. They discovered there are two types of prisons.
Travel always opens our eyes and Elizabeth Gilbert has found a way in choosing these stories that it also can provide a mirror as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Jorgensen VINE VOICE on November 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Though this is my first experience of The Best American Travel Writing series, I have researched the series' history. Its overall editor is Jason Wilson, but he generally farms each year's edition out to a "guest editor"--in this case, Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat Pray Love fame..

Gilbert's foreword explains her selection criteria for the collection. She automatically ruled out any article along the lines of "Things to do in London;" her definition of good travel writing is something that makes you feel less like you'd like to visit a place than like you already have. A good point.

The included selections are diverse. They cover destinations in multiple places in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as a small handful which are less about the place than the experience: an amusing reflection on the trials one fashion writer must endure to get her large wardrobe into the luggage space afforded a coach traveler, a New Yorker who discovers that examining a new side of one's home city can feel much like traveling to the other side of the world. This broad definition of travel is appropriate and mind-opening.

Of course, as with any anthology, but especially with one whose unifying topical theme is fairly loosely defined, the quality of selections varies. Some selections left me inspired, others interested, still others bored. I'd say most fell into the middle category, and the latter was mostly filled with very short pieces, which is a plus.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Polzin on November 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I always enjoy the books of the Best American series, including other editions of the travel essays. I rate these collections based on the number of essays that wow me and that I feel are real discoveries. While almost all the essays in this edition were interesting or funny, none were especially insightful about travel or culture. None of them seemed like discoveries or essays that I was glad I hadn't missed. A worthwhile read, but not essential.

The highlights for me: "Tea and Kidnapping" (Sarah Topol) was unexpectedly droll. "The Paid Piper" (Grant Stoddard), and "Dentists Without Borders" (David Sedaris) were both funny pieces. "The Way I've Come" (Judy Copeland) had some touching moments. "The Pippiest Place on Earth" (San Anderson) and "Babu on the Bad Road" (Jesse Dukes) were both very good pieces of reporting.
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