Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
What Am I Doing Here? Paperback – August 1, 1990
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
More than Chatwin's other books this one is about personalities. He was a grand walker and a literary nomad, so region and landscape play a quintessential role throughout. But the travelogue is backdrop. Each of the book's 35 vignettes reveals an exchange between Chatwin and a personality he connected with. Some of them are famous - Andre Malraux, Werner Herzog, Diana Vreeland - while others, more obscure, get an affectionate introduction:
"Howard Hodgkin is an English painter whose brilliantly colored and basically autobiographical pictures, done both with bravura and with anxiety, fall into none of the accepted categories of modern art."
Or: "Madeleine Vionnet is an alert and mischevious old lady of ninety-six with eighty-six years of practical experience in the art of dressmaking."
Or again: "Maria Reiche is a tall, almost skeletal, German mathematician and geographer who has spent about half her seventy-two years in the Peruvian desert surveying the archaeological monument known as the 'Nazca lines'."
In the end, the only common thread in "What Am I Doing Here?" is Chatwin himself, observing, interviewing, questioning.Read more ›
When Bruce Chatwin died in '88, there is no doubt that he fulfilled that same goal. His life was undeniably fascinating, and this book is snippets of it. 35 stories, each concerning different people or places, and all of them are riveting.
Chatwin covered an incredible amount of ground throughout his life, and the book gives one a minor snapshot of some of those places. It feels like someone were interviewing him about his life, and just asked the broad question: So, what were your favorite experiences?
I lacked the necessary background in art history to fully appreciate a lot of his stories (he being an art connoisseur), but even with little to no knowledge of such things, Chatwin's book was fascinating; he makes you care about what he cares about, whether you did before or not.
When I finished the book, I put it down and immediately wanted another one just like it. Undoubtedly Chatwin had more stories to tell, but the general public will have to be satisfied with his own self-selected highlights from a fascinating life.
I really can't recommend this book highly enough, especially for people who like to travel, or particularly like art or history.
This compendium, arguably more than any of his other travel books and novels, gives a good insight into the complex and fascinating life Chatwin lived, always in pursuit of the bizzare, the exotic, the beautiful and a good story. Chatwin's writings cover themes as dispirate as travel, art, politics, people and literature. Always discussed in a terse, erudite style that became his trademark. The breadth and depth of Chatwin's knowledge is incredible, thus these writings are not the most accessible. Some appreciation of art history, literature and anthropology for example is necessary to comprehend some of the more esoteric pieces in the collection.
Readers who give Chatwin the time will be able to unravel a wealth of brilliantly illuminated stories. From personal tales about family members, meetings with fabulously well connected and artistic people - such as George Costakis the Soviet art collector and Madeline Vionnet the French dressmaker, descriptions of his travels to far flung places - Patagonia, Afghanistan, China, searching for yeti in the Himalayas - the list goes on, one never fails to marvel at the rich tapestry that comprised Chatwin's life. Certainly, he lived a life about as far from the mundane as it is possible to get.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What if Mozart, Schubert or John Lennon had lived longer? Bruce Chatwin (BC;1940-89) died older, but also still brimming with ideas and material to research and write about for... Read morePublished 18 days ago by Alfred J. Kwak
Very good Chatwin. Some flashes of brilliance and superb writing. But it is a collection without much of a connecting thread. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Eloqui (Consignment)
Too moch Bruce Chatwin.and not so interesting. I liked In Patagonia much better, probably becsuse I live in.South America. And also ha been to Patagonia.Published on March 3, 2014 by bellebuchanan
I little expected to find a fellow hunter of all things to do with Kalmyk nomads, an inhabitant of the "mythical present", desirous of Marvellian ensnarement. Read morePublished on March 2, 2014 by Sara Phillips-Ritchey
some of the essays on thos book are among the best chatwon ever wrote, particularly the East Asian ones. Some of the rssaus are lesser. Read morePublished on January 5, 2014 by Dorothy Potter
I thought this would be more of a travel book, but instead, it is a series of essays mostly of people Chatwin found interesting. Read morePublished on December 26, 2010 by zorba
I loved the book; read it years ago and am now re-visiting it. What always struck me was the title - without the question mark (? Read morePublished on March 4, 2009 by S. Newman
Chatwin's stories of Africa, Nepal and Afghanistan of the 1980s were all very riveting, but there were many more essays about his obscure friends. Read morePublished on February 22, 2007 by Connie (She who hikes with dogs)
I wasn't familiar with Bruce Chatwin when my girlfriend gave me this book for Christmas. I really like his casual, captivating style. Read morePublished on March 8, 2003 by Peter Lindberg