Sad, funny, shocking. The Gringo Trail is an On The Road for the Lonely Planet generation. A darkly comic road-trip and a revealing journey through South America's turbulent history.
This book is candy. It might be interesting to people who have never done this sort of travel, and who are fascinated by the idea of giving it a try. But for the tens of millions of us who having done it for ourselves, the journey this book describes is very ordinary. Here is yet another little band of angry, self-righteous British slackers, who escape work by puking and quarrelling their way across the 3rd world.
And this book is nothing more than the diary of the trip. Episode after episode, one wonders, "what was the point of that little story?" The author at one point ponders splitting off from his two companions, but it is clear why he doesn't: most of this book is about his interactions with them. Without someone to spat with, he would have little to fill the pages.
To give his work gravitas, he follows the formula of interleaving his personal narrative with leftish social-historical-political commentary. He even includes a bibliography of all of 20 books! It is just added gloss on the basic pretension that this trip is some sort of spiritual pilgrimage, an anthropological exploration into recondite psychedelic shamanic practices. He is flattering himself. He and his friends are just a slightly more educated breed of yobs, going where others have gone before.
He could aspire to be a chronicler, at least, of the yob backpacking scene. In a sense, he is.Read more ›