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Almost There: The Family Vacation, Then and Now [Paperback]

Curtis Gillespie

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Book Description

April 16 2012

We all have memories of family vacations: the cross-country marathon drive, the camping trip, a couple lazy weeks at the lake, a helter-skelter month in Europe, four days in Disneyland. The variations may be endless, but the common denominator is that there are always stories to tell.

The family vacation, with all its funny, sad, relaxing, stressful, frustrating, and exhilarating moments, shapes us, and helps us create an understanding of who we are and of those we travel with. In his humourous new book, Almost There, award-winning writer Curtis Gillespie explores the meaning of our family vacations, the memories created by them, and how we use these memories to define our relationship with our families and ourselves.

Using his own history of family vacations as a backdrop, Gillespie explores how the meaning and symbolism of the family vacation has shifted throughout the decades. For years, families drove across the country or relaxed at a lakeside cottage. Now even the middle-class travel with their nannies or go on a Disney cruise ... or take their nannies with them on a Disney cruise. As he sifts through memories and explores family vacation history, Gillespie ultimately discovers that not only is how we choose to vacation an expression of who we are as individual families, but that the very nature of the family vacation reflects, and sometimes even predicts, societal change.

The family vacation is something we all share; the laughter, the tears, the moments, the memories. In Almost There, Curtis Gillespie reminds us how important these moments in our lives are, and how important they will continue to be.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Allen Publishers (April 16 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887629385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887629389
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 399 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #311,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Mr. Gillespie, with great insight and humour, weaves analysis and history of the family vacation with tales of his own family trips, both as an adult, with his own children, and growing up in the '70s.

[Almost There] combines travel writing and historical research into a succinct, fast read that's packed with anecdotes that ring true with us all.

Almost There humorously blends Gillespie's own vacation experiences, both as a child and as a parent, with fascinating nuggets of history about the evolution of the family vacation...

... a hilarious read that examines the meaning of family vacations, the memories such vacations engender and how they define the usual roller coaster of every family relationship.

Gillespie is an entertaining and effortless memoirist...

About the Author

Curtis Gillespie has written four books, including the memoir Playing Through: A Year of Life, Links Along the Scottish Coast, and the novel Crown Shyness. He has won numerous awards for his fiction and non-fiction, including the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and three National Magazine Awards. His journalism has been widely published, and he is the editor and co-founder of Eighteen Bridges magazine. He lives in Edmonton with his wife and two daughters.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars "Don't make me turn this car around..." Sept. 3 2014
By takingadayoff - Published on
Three and a half stars for this one. I think my expectations got in the way of enjoying this book more. As a memoir of Curtis Gillespie's family vacations over the years, it was funny and evoked a ton of memories of my own family vacations. But as a survey of how family vacations have changed over the years, it was a bit thin. On the plus side, he mentioned numerous sources that I have either read and enjoyed or that I want to read right away. On the down side, there's no bibliography, so you have to note the books down as he mentions them or dogear the pages for later reference.

The book starts out with a bang as Gillespie recalls his Canadian family's first long-distance road trip in the 1970s, from Edmonton to Mexico City and back. The family of eight was barely an hour away from home when the first of many assorted minor emergencies took place. Explosions, egestions, eruptions, you name it. His knack for holiday drama seemed to intensify with adulthood and a family of his own. From time to time he strays from the vacation theme, such as when he tells stories of his gruff and dyspeptic grandfather, but the stories are good, so what the heck.

It's a fun, if bumpy ride.

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