Thursday, February 16, 2006

Glittering Eyes and Spellbinding Tales...

The following is an excerpt from Jason Wilson's introduction to The Best American Travel Writing 2001.

"Travel writing these days seems to be many things; but in my opinion it is not what usually passes for travel writing. It is not a first-class seat on an airplane, not a week of wine tasting on the Rhine, not a weekend in a luxury hotel. It is not a survey of expensive brunch menus, a search for the perfect margarita, or a roundup of the best health spas in the Southwest. In short, it is not about vacations or holidays, not an adjunct to the public relations industry. Travel writing is certainly not an overedited, reader-friendly text bowdlerized by fact checkers, published with a layout of breathtaking photographs - and heretically, travel writing is not necessarily tasteful, perhaps not even factual, and seldom about pleasure..."

"Travel writing at its best relates a journey of pure discovery that is frequently risky and sometimes grim and often pure horror, with a happy ending: to hell and back. The traveler ends up at home and seizes your wrist with his skinny hand and holds you with his glittering eye and relates his spellbinding tale."

Beautifully expressed - an eloquent companion to Carl Parkes' criticism of the New York Times Travel Section, which I linked to yesterday.

If you aren't familiar with The Best American series, head to the local bookstore. Those books are goldmines.


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