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The Best American Travel Writing 2008 Paperback – Bargain Price, October 8, 2008
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Jason Wilson has written for the Washington Post, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and Salon. He is a columnist for the Washinton Post's food section, as well as the editor of the online magazine The Smart Set.
Top Customer Reviews
I shouldn't be surprised I suppose. Bourdain's first book, Kitchen Confidential Updated Ed: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.) was horrifying, yet I couldn't put it down. But I found his shtick less compelling with his second book, A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines, and I didn't bother finishing The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones. Bourdain is becoming a caricature, a posturing bad boy who thinks he can still shock us by eating bugs.
Still, I never miss each year's Best American Travel Writing collection, and the format is pretty forgiving of the inexperienced guest editor. The series editor, Jason Wilson, selects about a hundred articles from magazines, newspapers, and the web. Then the guest editor's assignment is to choose twenty-five from those. It's difficult, but not impossible, to screw up.
I wouldn't categorize this year's anthology as a screw-up, but it isn't one of my favorites, and I would recommend it only to those who are seriously into adventure tales. Nothing wrong with adventure tales.Read more ›
Fortunately, not all the writings in this book possess a theme of bravado and shock. I really enjoyed the other short gems: a trans-Atlantic flight that dredged up childhood memories by David Sedaris, an educational and fascinating insight into falconry in the most expensive road trip ever by Annie Nocenti and an adventure on the newest and controversial railroad to Tibet by Pankaj Mishra.
For the most part, I enjoyed this collection despite a number of misses. This is a pretty decent compilation that would quench anyone's wanderlust until your next trip, that is.
That certainly is the case with the opening piece, "Extreme Chocolate", whose title helps draw me into this book. Author Bill Buford lets us smell the jungle floor, sympathize with the artisans, and understand more than we ever thought we needed to know about premier chocolates. His storytelling is riveting and his research exhaustive. In similar fashion, James Campbell's "Chasing Ghosts" gives us a genuine sense of the dangers that lurk across Papua New Guinea and the lengths to which the author went to complete his harrowing journey.
If humor is what you're craving, look no further than Simon Doonan's "Brighton Beach Memoir", a wry look at Britain's aging dowager-by-the-sea. And Calvin Trillin's "Three Chopsticks" offers a gentle poke in the (pork) ribs as he follows the locals who eddy and surge from food stall to food stall in Singapore.
If politics is your cup of tea, flip to Matthew Teague's take on His Haughtiness in Tonga, immediately followed by Paul Theroux's examination of the Stalinesque idol worship in Turkmenistan.
Food for thought? Tag along with John Lancaster in Mumbai, who chronicles poverty tourism, one of the newer twists in globetrotting, and decide whether this seemingly perverse practice is more good than bad.Read more ›
- "Extreme Chocolate", on the history of dark chocolate
- "Hope and Squalor at Chungking Mansion", about a unique building and its residents in Hong Kong
- "Wheels of Fortune", about driving and renting cars in China
- "Next Stop, Squalor", about "poverty tourism"
- "Journey into Night", by David Sedaris... need I say more?
- "The Golden Man", by Paul Theroux... ditto
There is a focus to these stories, describing the lavish and the stricken, the gluttony and the obscure. These writers, at least for these essays, tend to contribute little to the communities that assist them in making a living.
"Dark Passage," about modern day pirates, which I first read in National Geographic with its superb photographs, lost relatively little sans pictures.
Poverty tourism has always been around, but it's current popularity, whether as a side trip during an African safari or a trip to India, is disturbing.
I've been interested in the "donate your old clothes to poor people in Africa" - charity? scam? - for quite a while now. From "The River is a Road": "Our neighbor Lucy sold the secondhand clothing worn by almost everyone on the barge and along the river: the ubiquitous American T-shirts donated to charities and dumped on the African market" (p. 136). I'm still trying to get a handle on this issue.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was very pleased with this purchase. Though I had hoped the book would focus on American eating experiences, and not merely American writers, I enjoyed the read.Published 20 months ago by Kaitlynn Gee
Purchased as a gift for my husband. He hasn't read it yet but did look through it and it's a little more "dirty" than he expected.Published on July 19, 2014 by Punkin
It was worth the money spent on it. The condition matched the one listed. I would definetly buy from the seller again.Published on October 12, 2009 by Book Deals