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Customer Review

on March 5, 2001
"[I]f travel is like love, that is, in the end, mostly because it's a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity, and ready to be transformed."
So observes Pico Iyer at the end of his foreword to this magical collection, adding that the above is also the reason that "the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end. "Anyone who has traveled at least a bit, who has loved at least once, or who is ready to be transformed should read this book. High praise is due Don George and Salon.com for gathering such a stirring and tantalizing collection of writings together: in forty short pieces not one dull or sappy note is struck.
For romance, the standouts of this collection are Maxine Rose Schur's "Passionate and Penniless in Paris," about the time she spent with her husband living in a van by the Quai de la Tournelle; Simon Winchester's "Romance in Romania" where the Rolls Royce he happens to be driving brings both him and a young Romanian girl into a beautiful moment that takes its romance from its very fleetingness; Iyer's own short, musical "Bewitched in Bali"; "Fade Into Blue," written in the third person by Amanda Jones; and most memorable of all, Laura Fraser's "Italian Affair," one of the most personal pieces in the book, but written completely in the second person (let's just say it begins with "Let's say your husband leaves you" and ends with her discovery of "la bella vita").
Notable for their adventurous qualities are Bill Belleville's "Looking for Mr. Watson" in the heart of the Florida Everglades; Don Meredith's relaxed brush with death in "Sleeping With Elephants"; Jeffrey Tayler's not-so-relaxed brush with death in "Lost in the Sahara"; editor Don George's surprising fear of climbing Half-Dome in Yosemite while watching his 8- and 10-year-old children scamper up like squirrels--he not afraid for them, he's jealous of them; and Susan Hack's humorous "Tampax Nightmares."
Of course romance and adventure are not mutually exclusive, and many of the stories here exhibit both. The writers of SALON.COM'S WANDERLUST convey the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feel of the places they go--both externally and inside their own heads. The reader is transported to all seven continents and several states of being (drunk on absinthe, crashing a motorcycle while on heroin, eating the ambrosial sauces of the Memphis World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest). It will be hard to read just a quarter of these stories and not want to make your plane reservations, stuff a new notebook into your backpack and just go.
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