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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Best American Travel Writing 2000

The Best American Travel Writing 2000 edited by Bill Bryson, Jason Wilson series editor. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000. ISBN: 061807466X.

This book is required reading for armchair travelers everywhere, and will probably be enjoyed by real travelers too. This volume is the first in a series of annual collections of travel stories from American writers, conveniently collected for the discerning reader from a variety of sources including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and a variety of travel magazines and other publications.

Many of the adventures related here are especially valuable, in that they take us to places we would probably never go even if we DID have the money to travel extensively. They take us to unlikely, extreme and even occasionally unsafe destinations, such as the section of Cambodia still controlled by the Khmer Rouge, or the remote Himalayan ecologically correct kingdom of Bhutan, or the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, that portion of Central Asia controlled by China.

On the lighter side, we can enjoy the pleasures of vicariously attending an ice-bound golf tournament in Greenland, picking up hitchhikers all over Cuba, smuggling cheese from France, even spending a night in New York City's Central Park.

Given the nature of collections of any sort, the writing is uneven. Some of the tales are rivetingly written from start to finish, others are dry, more in the style of a sociology textbook, but all give us unique insights into their exotic locales, and help us understand more about the far corners of this world we all live in. Jason Wilson, series editor, gives us a lively introductory essay on "Why Travel Stories Matter," and Bill Bryson, editor of this particular volume, provides a look at American travel writing, and how it has matured in recent years, making such a volume as this feasible, even desirable.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in travel on any level. I'm looking forward to eventually reading the more recent volumes in the series.

2 Comments:

  • Hi Will, my wife and I are thinking about doing some traveling and I am out searching for information on travel book. It is our first vacation together so I really want to do things right. Looks like you have a nice site here. Well, back to my search.

    By Anonymous travel inn, at 6:57 PM  

  • Hi Will#, my wife and I are thinking about doing some traveling and I am out searching for information on travel inn. It is our first vacation together so I really want to do things right. Looks like you have a nice site here. Well, back to my search.

    By Anonymous utah travel, at 8:38 PM  

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