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Think your last vacation was bad just because you spent a couple of nights in the airport? You got off easy! In this delightful anthology, some of the world's best travel writers, novelists and journalists -- Eric Hansen, Pico Iyer, Barbara Kingsolver, and 48 others -- offer up the agonies of their worst trips. With an introduction by Mary Morris and a final rebuttal by Jan Morris.
While some of these essays transcend the limited range of their focus, the majority have the shallow immediacy of anecdotes told around a bar. There are endless accounts of nightmarish trips by boat, car and bus (too many people, lots of bad smells) and, more banal, airplane; horrifying stays in squalid hotels (insect invasions, faulty plumbing, rooms let by the hour); and hellish encounters with the locals (more bad smells, unsavory behavior). Sometimes these 49 tales-introduced by Mary Morris and with a rebuttal by Jan Morris-are amusing, but too often even the authors appear more dutiful than interested, and many stories end patly. The best, however, offer glimpses into the rewards promised by travel-enlightenment, a taste of the exotic, insight into human behavior. Eric Hansen's account of a sleepless winter night passed among the homeless in Grand Central Station and Paul Theroux's claustrophobic Christmas in Central Africa fall into this category; so do Larry O'Connor's moving description of a slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Suzanne Lipsett's encounter with an American couple in Bangkok, circa 1968. All reflect Pico Iyer's belief that "the one great glory of traveling is that hardship is always redeemed by commotion recollected in tranquility." These authors, and half a dozen others, seem changed by their experiences; the rest rather blithely have shrugged theirs off.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The editors don't pay their writers. Shame on them. The stories are hillarious and well-written, but the editors are thieves.
Don't buy this book.
The title looked perfect for the adventurous traveler (or someone who wants to be an adventurous traveler), but almost all the stories, while telling a great tale, were poorly... Read morePublished on Jan. 21 1999
I keep giving this as gifts--partly because the short tales are managable for any reader, even those who read on a treadmill. Read morePublished on June 3 1998