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The Best American Travel Writing 2002 (Planet of the Grapes #3)

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3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,653 Ratings  ·  282 Reviews
Giving new life to armchair travel for 2002, here are ten unabridged tales on such varied concerns as God and airports; a dangerous Bolivian festival; one perfect meal in Cambodial; the eternal pleasures of Rome, and much more.
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Published October 15th 2002 by Mariner Books (first published October 26th 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Biblio Files
Sep 22, 2015 Biblio Files rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This year's travel writing is guest edited by Andrew McCarthy and it's a fat collection of over 300 pages, many of the pieces quite long. It's mostly from the usual sources, several articles from The New Yorker and Outside, a few from The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, National Geographic. Only one of the pieces is from an online-only publication (JMWW), which seems odd in 2015. I understand that the guest editor selects from a larger list of essays that the series editor provides, and th ...more
Brad Hodges
Mar 13, 2014 Brad Hodges rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I think of travel writing, I think of writers wearing cargo pants and pith helmets going to dangerous places so we don't have to. Alternatively, there's the kind of travel writer who wears tuxedos and knows wine and travels to place we'd like to, but can't afford to. There's some of that in this collection, The Best American Travel Writing 2013, edited by Elizabeth Gilbert, but the definition of travel writing becomes much more broad. There's even an article about a trip someone didn't take ...more
Bianca
Oct 12, 2013 Bianca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For many of us Fall means being cooped up in offices during the limited daylight hours, swaddling ourselves in layers of fabric and hunching over warm cups of tea. If you are like me, and long for an escape, then you find this time of year the perfect time to fantasize over future vacations in remote locales.

What Best American Travel Writing 2013 offers readers is not just a collection of articles, but the feeling of having been there, experiencing the adventure with the author. Elizabeth Gilber
...more
Becky
Dec 05, 2014 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first time reading something from the 'Best American Series' (a few have sat on my kindle for over two years). I usually enjoy compilations with their inherent advantage of easily addressing and switching topics. However it took me much longer to read this book than it should have--mostly because it didn't capture my attention. Some were interesting but none were amazing--but maybe I am just not that familiar with travel writing? My favorites were: David Sedaris (Dentists Without Bor ...more
Beverly Hollandbeck
I usually don't read essay anthologies because the writing is uneven. I picked up this one because I enjoy Elizabeth Gilbert's writing and wanted to see what she enjoyed. The essays range from informative and thought-provoking (Colleen Kinder's two walks through Cairo, one in a burka, one in jeans), to humorous (David Sedaris' "Dentists Without Borders") to historical (Rich Cohen's exquisite history of New Orleans). I must have the same tastes as Elizabeth Gilbert! Yeah for me!
Jill
Feb 03, 2016 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished: A book of non-fiction The Best American Travel Writing 2015 edited by Andrew McCarthy
In the winter, I love travel articles for the vicarious experience of seeing the world through the eyes of others, and this collection was outstanding. The exploration of travel on train, plane, foot, by car, camel, and donkey, and a look at places on the globe I will probably never visit was at times moving and at other times hilarious. I found the brief "A Doubter in the Holy Land" by Maud Newton and
...more
Vance Bryce
Sep 24, 2015 Vance Bryce is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, travel
Forward by Jason Wilson

Wilson tells an evocative story about his life experience with wine to illustrate the varieties of travel writings. This edition promises some good essays.

Introduction by Paul Theroux

America the Marvelous, A.A. Gill From Vanity Fair

This was fun diatribe against the commonly held notion in Europe and Great Britain that Americans are without class, fat, bumbling, tasteless cavemen.

Birthplace of the American Vacation, Tony Perrottet

Through the eyes of one of the original rec
...more
Ashley
Apr 02, 2015 Ashley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better "Best American Travel Writing" collections I've read, this one has a good collection of memorable travel essays on a variety of topics and locations. The only one I really didn't care for and slogged through was the one the editors opened with ("Poisoned Land" by Elif Bautman), which was more science writing than travel, although I suppose what's cool about travel writing is that it's so all-encompassing that even an essay such as this could be travel.

My favorite by far was "Fi
...more
Schuyler Wallace
Nov 29, 2013 Schuyler Wallace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Gilbert has put together a marvelous collection of American writing. However, the anthology’s title, THE BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING 2013, to be known as TBATW in the rest of this review, should probably have TRAVEL removed to more accurately describe its contents.

The contributors are fine writers with impressive credentials but only a few are known for their travel writing. Many of the entries do not seem to fit the travel genre, although every one of them is outstanding and I’m glad
...more
Matt
Overall, a very good collection. I'm surprised, actually, because I'm ranking this as highly as I ranked the 2008 edition, which I also just read and was edited by a favorite of mine, Anthony Bourdain. Vollman doesn't have QUITE the same taste as me, and there are a few in here I was not a fan of - I'm not much into Thomas Swick in this or in any of the other editions, and Aaron Dactyl's piece struck me as a bit misanthropic - but a few of them were absolutely incredible. Specifically:
-J. Malcol
...more
Grady McCallie
Nov 18, 2012 Grady McCallie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Although labelled as travel writing, this year's edition - the first I've read in this series - more accurately consists of essays in which a sense of place figures prominently. Standout essays for me included: Monte Reel, How to Explore Like a Real Victorian Adventurer, on Victorian adventurers' how-to guides; Kenan Trebincevic, The Reckoning, a short but powerful piece on returning to visit a town from which the author's family was ethnically cleansed; and Luke Dittrich, Walking the Border, a ...more
Christy
Mar 07, 2010 Christy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Here is a rundown of the essays in the 2006 compilation that stand out in my mind:

“After the Fall” by Tom Bissell and Morgan Meis

In this essay, the authors visit Vietnam, a week in advance of the 30th anniversary of South Vietnam’s surrender. Things go wrong for the journalists when they visit a few too many dissidents. The end of the article finds one of them stumbling around Saigon while the celebrations commence, his companions having been forced to leave the country.

“The Discreet Charm of th
...more
Matt
No surprise that Elizabeth Gilbert and I don't really have overlapping styles - I preferred Vollman's choices last year, but my favorite so far were Bourdain's - but she did pick a few really good ones. David Sedaris is awesome, as always, as is Ian Frazier. The names I didn't know that I'll be following now are David Farley, for his story on a mysterious bowl of noodles in Vietnam, Colleen Kinder, for her story on walking through Cairo in a niqab, and Sam Anderson for his story about a failed D ...more
Joseph Rice
Travel writing is probably my favorite genre of books, and the Best American Travel Writing series form Houghton Mifflin provides the best of travel writing appearing in magazines and journals during the year.

There are a good number of stories that take place in cold, northern climes, particularly Russia, Belarus, and Iceland. An article about child kidnappings by guerrillas in Uganda is particularly sobering, but then there's the lighthearted story about tramps in the Czech Republic who ape Ame
...more
Neil Pierson
Some fascinating articles:

A profile of the recycling industry in Cairo. Poor people with no training in economics whatsoever have put together and operate a complex model that divides labor and income among social classes with a subtle elegance that would make the Director of the IMF cry.

An article on how nature has evolved after humans suddenly disappeared. No need to go to the movies, folks. Buy a ticket to Chernobyl instead. Or better yet, read the article.

And some clunkers, such as an articl
...more
James
Nov 09, 2013 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This year's collection is good but as usual contains some hits and misses. I particularly enjoyed the pieces by Pico Iyer and Mark Jenkins, but wasn't as enamored of other selections such as Railway Semantics, which I feel turned what could have been a fascinating story about riding the rails into a boring stream-of-consciousness narrative that just wasn't interesting. Still, I enjoy anthologies like this because they contain a variety of styles and authors whom I'm unfamiliar with, and I plan t ...more
Jenny Yates
Aug 03, 2014 Jenny Yates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great little collection of essays and memoirs, plenty of gems among them. Many of them are very personal, although there are a few that are straight reporting. We go to little-known parts of the world, meet unusual people, and take part in unique and often demanding life-styles.

The anthology covers many different ways of finding one’s place in the world. The first piece is about an Anglo guy traveling to Cuba to be with his wife’s family, and I totally identified with that, having mar
...more
Don
Apr 03, 2014 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm dealing with a cold these days and I must say that this little collection really hit the spot. I was looking for something which didn't require too much attention, but which would still be compelling; this book certainly succeeded on both counts.

There are several reasons this compendium stands out. One is the sheer variety of the selections. It's incredible that so many facets of travel can be addressed in such a small collection. It's impossible to pick a favorite simply because there are
...more
Arja Salafranca
A disappointment - the book barely cracks 200 pages, so many of the pieces are so short. And although there are a handful of excellent pieces, it doesn't quite make up for the disappointment of the rest. The guest editor, Elizabeth Gilbert, seems to prefer factual-based pieces, more reportage than strictly travel pieces. And, again, although some of these are good - Marie Arana's story of poverty on the gold mines in Peru, Dreaming of El Dorado, for instance, when you're expecting travel narrati ...more
Karen
I think the better name for this particular collection would be great travel reporting. Except for a few essays, this was just plain good journalism, enough of a novelty these days to be definitely worth reading. But the artistry in the writing, the shaping to an interesting point, or taking an idea and cleverly running with it, are only apparent in a few of these - Ian Frazier's piece on the shrinking of the remote, Judy copeland's about learning not to go it alone, Summerland about the familia ...more
Jaime
Apr 19, 2015 Jaime rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Favorites: Colleen Kinder - Blot Out (available online for free via the google FYI), Lynn Yaeger - Confessions of a Packing Maximalist, Peter Jon Lindberg - Summerland, Marie Arana - Dreaming of El Dorado, Ian Frazier - A Farewall to Yarns.

"I've also learned the difference between traveling and vacationing, two words that are often used interchangeably but means different things. A vacation typically involves travel, but travel is not always a vacation. Sometimes it's quite the opposite - fraugh
...more
Grady McCallie
Apr 06, 2014 Grady McCallie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid anthology - nicely varied pieces, with some more adventurous selections - much more a collection of very good essays that each involve a sense of place, rather than travel writing per se. My favorites included: Judy Copeland, 'The Way I've Come', a portion of a maniac hike across brutally steep terrain in Papua New Guinea; Daniel Tyx, 'The Year I Didn't', on a trip that never happened at all; Jesse Dukes, 'Babu on the Bad Road', really a news essay about a faith healer in Tanzania; and M ...more
Walter Hernandez
Some good reads in this collection, namely: "Dreaming of El Dorado" (heartbreaking), "A Prison, a Paradise" (poignant), "The Bull Passes Through" (being there), "The Year I Didn't" (relatable), and "Vietnam's Bowl of Secrets." But, not the strongest collection in the series. Real good writing, however.
Kate
Apr 15, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some remarkable stories in this collection. If you love travel tales - and good writing! - this is very well done. There were a couple stories I felt didn't quite fit in the travel genre, and that was a little perplexing. Regardless, they are all interesting and as an aside - I have a new appreciation for "Travel + Leisure," which I have perhaps unfairly dismissed as an unrealistic publication aimed toward travelers in the wealthy 1% (still mostly true, but anyway -). Some of my favori ...more
Kristina
Sep 19, 2010 Kristina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Marcel Theroux's and Scott Anderson's pieces are brilliant, but the rest of them are a bit heavy and (considering there are FOUR from The New Yorker, where writers are paid by the word), long-winded. Not my favorite of the series by far.
Yasmine
May 21, 2013 Yasmine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Most of these shouldn't even be classified as travel writing. Most of the pieces were also boring. This just seems to be a collection of essays and reportage set in locations foreign to the respective writers.
Marilyn
Great collection that offers a wonderfully broad look at what travel writing can be. Some pieces, like Judy Copeland's "The Way I've Come" are intensely personal, while "Pirate City" by Rich Cohen is a masterwork in how to present in-depth historical research as a compelling narrative. Other articles cross genres into food writing, sports writing, and investigative journalism. Also, be sure not to skip Jason Wilson's forward or Elizabeth Gilbert's introduction, which are just as compelling as th ...more
Eric McGreevy
Jun 20, 2010 Eric McGreevy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i've discovered i'm a tremendous sucker for travel writing and have mentally/emotionally/spiritually glamorized the art so much that i find myself thinking of a massive career change....
Britta
Aug 25, 2015 Britta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love, love, LOVE this series. You'd be hard pressed to find a work within these publications that I find boring or even remotely lacking. In this edition I particularly loved David Sedaris' 'Dentists Without Borders', Peter Jon Lindberg's 'Summerland', and Sarah A. Topol's 'Tea and Kidnapping'. Broken into perfect bite-sized pieces, this series is ALWAYS with me when I travel. The subjects are as varied as their authors and I always finish feeling refreshed and enlivened. Sound dramatic? I don ...more
Christine Zibas
Jan 27, 2016 Christine Zibas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first began to notice the name Andrew McCarthy in the travel magazines I subscribe to. Could this be the same Hollywood heart throb from "St. Elmo's Fire" and "Pretty in Pink"? Turns out that McCarthy has created a new career for himself, one that's just as impressive as his previous life on the big screen. This time, however, he's found himself on the road along with the rest of us vagabonds, collecting stories along the way and learning that "it is of course in the leaving that we afford our ...more
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Frances Mayes's new book is Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir , published by Crown. With her husband, Edward Mayes she recently published The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. Every Day in Tuscany is the third volume in her bestselling Tuscany memoir series.

In addition to her Tuscany memoirs, Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany , Frances Mayes is the author of the travel memoir A Year in the Wor
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“Unless there is a strong sense of place there is no travel writing, but it need not come from topographical description; dialogue can also convey a sense of place. Even so, I insist, the traveler invents the place. Feeling compelled to comment on my travel books, people say to me, "I went there"---China, India, the Pacific, Albania-- "and it wasn't like that." I say, "Because I am not you.” 4 likes
“Not at Lehman Brothers, which collapsed in 2008, and not on Wall Street; Greece was where the fire broke out. One heard the word contamination again and again, but this time it was no imperial cultural contamination, no creeping process of civilization. This time the crisis was a contagion: debts and obligations that would never be repaid, a gradual deterioration of the financial immune system.” 0 likes
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