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The New York Times: Footsteps: From Ferrante's Naples to Hammett's San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World Paperback – Deckle Edge, May 9, 2017
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"For anyone who's ever asked 'Where do your stories come from?' or for anyone who has traveled or longed to travel, the writers in this collection elegantly, thoughtfully, lovingly, and brilliantly take you to places you've never imagined and places you've dreamed of getting to. It's fabulous!"
—JACQUELINE WOODSON, author of the New York Times bestseller Another Brooklyn and the National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming
"A feast of inspiration."
—BILL BRYSON, author of The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain
About the Author
THE NEW YORK TIMES is a daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed internationally. Founded in 1851, the newspaper has won 122 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper.
MONICA DRAKE is the editor of the Travel section at the New York Times.
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I especially enjoyed reading about author, Flannery O'Connor -
Footsteps is a collection of articles from an ongoing series in The New York Times that explores how the physical path a writer takes affects the literary journey. Each one is written by a different person who thoughtfully walks in the footsteps of a favorite author. The result is a collection of delightfully different travel essays. The selected authors are an eclectic mix spread across the globe. Some, such as Mark Twain, are well known, but others such as novelist Orhan Pamuk of Istanbul might be new to the reader. All the essays are charming and written with obvious affection and even a bit of whimsy. In a walking tour to trace fictional Sam Spade’s routes through the real Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco, the essay’s author came across the following tongue-in-cheek plaque on Burritt Street. “On approximately this spot, Miles Archer, Sam Spade’s partner, was done in by Brigid O’Shaughnessy.” There is no mention of the Maltese Falcon or that Sam, Miles, and Brigid never existed.
Many of the essays hold a surprise or two. Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula’s eerie setting came from the English coastal resort of Whitby and not Transylvania. H. P. Lovecraft was an early king of creepy and he found his doorway to hell in Providence, Rhode Island. Sometimes the negative affect of a place was more profound than the positive. Alice Munro hated Vancouver, British Columbia, but used her time there to craft memorable stories. Some essays have a dash of bittersweet. Not every writer ended up rich and successful. Many weren’t particularly admirable (Shelley and Bryon were two misogynistic dirtbags), but all had been touched by a place that transformed their writing into glorious words.
I highly recommend Footsteps as both a quirky travel guide and a warm-hearted tribute to writers and their inspiration. I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.
It was a very well put together collection, and each story is written by someone who is walking the footsteps of a famous author. The essays are enticing with a bit of whimsical charm and some even hold a surprise or change-up. Each writer also contained their own writing style. Some were easy for me to get into while others I had to really focus to see the stories between the lines. But all were very fascinating and took me to another place where I could really imagine the life there and see why those famous writers let their imaginations take them away.
I was excited to read this as I have no major travel plans this summer, but now I can enjoy the world travels of others by reading in the comforts of my own home. And I highly recommend it to others as a fun guide to traveling the world or as a good read while relaxing on your favorite local beach!
Most of the essays were every bit as romantic as one would hope. Clearly these were written by bibliophiles like myself–readers and dreamers who love to sit in a cafe with a glass of wine in one hand a book in the other, thinking about the author who wrote that novel and the life they led. The mystery has been taken out of it some what nowadays, since we can “meet” our authors on social media. (Not that I am complaining, I will totally watch every single one of your Instastories, don’t you worry about that.) But wouldn’t it be cool to drink tea with Jane Austen?
I didn’t read every single one of the essays, and there were a few I skimmed–mostly because while I recognized and liked most of the authors chosen, there were some I either didn’t recognize or care about. But I might read the one about James Baldwin anytime I read Giovanni’s Room, and the one about Byron and Shelley, while cringey, certainly shed a lot of light on that whole…um…situation.
I’m not sure I’d pick up a book like this if it were on any other subject matter. Just people randomly strolling thru Paris for no particular reason besides travel? Not a collection I’m interested. But add in the author quest and I’m totally down. I know a few friends I will be recommending this to. Should you be one of them?