Blair's Reviews > The Best American Travel Writing 2008

The Best American Travel Writing 2008 by Anthony Bourdain
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's review
Feb 08, 2010

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bookshelves: 52-in-2010-courtesy-of-sage
Read from January 25 to February 08, 2010

The stories I liked most in this collection surprised me. I was captivated by megalomaniac(al) dictators and monarchs, from Tonga to Eastern Europe. And I want to travel up the Congo. And go to the Easter Island of thirty years ago.

I think Anthony Bourdain said it best. (Not surprising.) "...a successful show or book or article is seen and enjoyed by many, and perhaps inspires others to travel. And the next time I roll through town, the place is packed with Americans. There's a Starbucks next door - and the whole neighborhood is going straight to hell.

In this way, writers are indeed, as Henry Miller suggested, traitors to the human race. We may turn a light on inequity, injustice, and oppression from time to time, but we regularly kill what we love in the process. As the scorpion with the frog, we can't help it. It's our nature. We change the charming and unspoiled by visiting and telling others." (xiv)

The problem with reading travel stories is that they don't catapult me into that place. I want so much to be standing there at a hawker stall in Singapore, sampling fish head soup with the writer, or on a floating town barge on the Congo. Imagination isn't enough when the place is real and waiting to be explored.

At least for me. I've got the travel bug again.
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