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I Should Have Stayed Home: The Worst Trips of Great Writers [Paperback]

Castanera Rapoport
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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.

From Publishers Weekly

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.

From Booklist

Concept anthologies often wear thin quickly, like a magazine article masquerading as a book, but this one stays the course. The idea is simple but resonant: writers recount their worst travel experiences. Delayed flights, bad hotels, worse food, bugs of every variety--they're all here and all described with a flair that makes us shudder in horrified recognition. The contributions from the biggest names--Isabel Allende on how to have a truly miserable time in Europe for one dollar a day, or Paul Theroux on a beer-soaked Christmas in the African bush ("It's Christmas, you pay")--are delightful, but the real jewels here are from lesser-known writers. Take Mary Mackey's "Night of the Army Ants," which describes what happens when ants march from the walls and scorpions descend from the rafters of your Guatemalan hotel room on the same surrealistic evening. Or perhaps you'd prefer Jeff Greenwald's account of the special pleasures of a Japanese denki furo, or electric bath. A delightful book, but don't read it before your next trip. This is travel writing for the agoraphobic lurking in us all. Ilene Cooper

Review

"Bestseller. The paperback sleeper of the year."
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