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The Best American Travel Writing 2006 (The Best American Series) 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 004-6442582155
ISBN-10: 0618582150
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Declares Cahill (Jaguars Ripped My Flesh) in his introduction to the seventh edition of Houghton's annual collection, "Story is the essence of the travel essay." So perhaps it's no surprise to see several contributions from writers with literary reputations. Gary Shteyngart revisits his native St. Petersburg for the holidays; George Saunders takes a surreal journey through Dubai; and Alain de Botton explains why he loves "boring and bourgeois" Zurich so much. But more traditional travel writers make their presence felt as well. Outside columnist Mark Jenkins hikes across the steppes from Afghanistan into China; in another article from that magazine, Michael Behar finds himself getting shot at by natives in the rain forests of West Papua. Airplanes come in for a lot of ribbing: P.J. O'Rourke jokes his way through a sneak peek at the jumbo-sized Airbus A380, while David Sedaris bears the resentment of his seatmate on a crowded flight after refusing to switch places with her husband. In a charming touch, the anthology begins and ends with stories about food: Chitrita Banerji's reflections about a Calcutta wedding feast are book-ended by Calvin Trillin's marvelous New Yorker piece about spending a week in Ecuador indulging his love for "thick and hearty" fanesca soup, a perfect mix of exotic locale and elegant prose. (Oct. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Series editor Jason Wilson muses on travelers' "endless quest for the authentic," and guest editor Cahill considers the nature of travel writing itself; both agree the best travel tales are told in the first person. And indeed, voice and story are the criteria here, for the concept of travel includes both Ian Frazier's thoughtful exploration of why he left Ohio and P. J. O'Rourke's gimlet-eyed appraisal of the behemoth Airbus A380. Other standouts include Michael Behar's troubling account of a guided tour promising first contact with indigenous people in West Papua, Indonesia, and George Saunders' exuberantly introspective junket to Dubai, an oil country retooling itself as the Disney/Vegas of the Middle East. But that's just scratching the surface. Cahill notes that "We seem to be in a golden age of American travel writing," suggesting one reason for the depth and quality here. Whatever the reason, The Best American Travel Writing series has become so reliable that reviewing it would seem almost unnecessary--except that reviewers want to read it, too. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1st edition (October 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618582150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618582150
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is a little bit hard to review this book because I have read most of the series and like them all. This is no exception and I thought that there are a few things that I can add.
As always a good/great selection of material and most/all are great reads. As has been stated elsewhere if you do not like one, you can skip it. However, I never skip a story. I sort of think that I might not finish one, but then I do and am glad that I did.
Not only do I like the stories, but I think of the book as a study guide for an aspiring travel writer. Thus far I have limited my travel writing by sneaking it into other nonfiction wrting that I do (I recommend this technique). I may never seriously go down the travel writting road, but the idea helps me notice things that I might not otherwise.
Here is a specific tip. Be sure to read the forematter of the book--the foreword and introduction. They are good reading too.
One small point. Compared to the others in the series that I have read, this edition would have to qualify for an R rating because of the story about prostitution in Costa Rica. I liked the story--and you can, of course, skip it if you do not like it--but I fell obligated to mention it. There was one other place (that I forget right now) that made me think the same thing about R rating.
As soon as I finished this book, I went out and bought one from the sports series!
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Format: Paperback
Travel writing, in this annual "Best of" series, has nothing to do with vacationing. Well, almost nothing.

GQ sends the very witty George Saunders to wallow in some of the most excessive luxury resorts in the most decadent and opulent city in the Middle East (the world?), Dubai. And the equally entertaining Calvin Trillin goes to Ecuador for Easter to eat the traditional Holy Week soup, fanesca, and practice his Spanish idioms.

But most of these lively, first person stories express only the most glancing acquaintance with "vacation" as we know it.

Some are profiles, like Kevin Fedarko's ride down the rapids of the Grand Canyon with writer, conservationist and outdoorsman Martin Litton, still an opinionated, controversial adventurer at 87.

Several deal with the specifics of air travel, including a typically hilarious, squirmy ordeal from David Sedaris, Sally Shivnan's lyrical view of flying cross country in a window seat and P. J. O'Rourke's humorous and informative portrait of France's Airbus A380.

Some are reflective, like Alain De Botton's appreciation of his native Zurich's essential, orderly bourgeoisie and Ian Frazier's journey from his small Ohio hometown to a hitchhiking epiphany when "I quit living in Hudson and began to live in the world."

Many take us to places we're unlikely to go. Qaddafi's Libya, for instance, where venturesome Kira Salak follows loosely, and sometimes nervously, in the footsteps of Scotsman Hugh Clapperton who explored Libya and crossed the Sahara in 1824, when it was rather a different place. Or Papua, New Guinea, where Michael Behar goes on a strange, uncomfortable tour to make "first contact" with undiscovered indigenous people.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book to supplement a travel writing course. I read many of the travel articles and found them interesting and well-written. It was especially helpful to read these articles without the pictures that must have accompanied many of them -- the writing for the most part was superb.
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Format: Paperback
I wasn't able to travel this summer, so I was more or less stuck in my small town in the middle of Oklahoma. Luckily, a handful of well-chosen books escorted me to exotic--and some very familiar--ports of call, this book, 2006's Best American Travel Writing being one of the most memorable. This is a wonderfully diverse collection of writings, featuring what many of us think of as "exotic" travel narratives, as well as my favorite kind of travel writing, essays that question the nature of travel and what we learn in the process of leaving the familiar behind.

One of the gems of this collection is Alain de Botton's piece, "The Discreet Charm of the Zurich Bourgeoise." I, too, am fascinated by the comfortable, efficient towns and cities in the world, ones that are rarely tourist destinations, but are fascinating in their own, discreet way. This piece is very similar to his book, The Art of Travel, as he juxtaposes Pieter de Hooch's paintings and their seemingly unremarkable domestic world with his love for the sedate charms of Zurich. It won't appeal to the National Geographic type of tourist, but this is what makes travel writing such a vital genre to me--and why I buy books like this.

Other high points include Sean Flynn's portrayal of American sex tourists in Puerto Rico, Ian Frazier's beautiful memoir of small town Ohio, Michael Paterniti's remarkable piece about befriending a Ukranian giant, Kira Salak's tour of modern-day Libya, George Saunder's enthusiastic (and humorous) account of Dubai, and by far the most laugh-out loud selection of all, Christopher Solomon's "Let's Ski Korea," which is everything you expect and more.

I always delight in these Best American... volumes, and the Travel Writing remains my favorite to read and re-read. Tim Cahill did an amazing job in selecting these works, and I look forward to "traveling" in them whenever the simple pleasures of Ada, Oklahoma become rather less poetic.
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