31 Bad Trips, ed. by Keith Fraser

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Bad Trips, ed. by Keith Fraser, Vintage Departures, 1991, ISBN 0-679-72908-9, $12.00

A collection of travel writing, mainly excerpts from longer works, although a few are short essays, describing those trips that–well, did not seem quite so fun at the time, but make for great reading. I read this book as a primer and introduction to the writers therein, some of whom I plan to seek out later, including:

  • Stuart Stevens–Reads like Mark Salzman, probably in part due to the fact that he traveled with Salzman.
  • P. K. Page–Her bit on Australia was great–exactly the problems with another culture that I’m looking for.
  • Norman Lewis–His Golden Earth is considered a classic of travel writing and this excerpt was enough to show some of the reasons why.
  • Colin Thubron–He traveled in the USSR before the break-up. There will probably be a spate of books about the USSR now that it’s easier to travel there, so this should be a fine slice of something not to be seen again, like Tibet before the Chinese takeover.
  • Paul Theroux–People had already recommended Theroux to me, and this except was a confirmation.
  • Mary Morris–A woman traveling alone has increased risk, and implicit bravery. This particular woman is a good writer, as well.
  • Charles Nicholl–More like a one-man “60 Minutes” team–the excerpt from his investigation on the cocaine underworld of Columbia just whetted my appetite for more.
  • Jonathan Raban–Sometimes our own country is the most foreign of places. Raban’s trip down the Mississippi looks good.
  • Gavin Young–War reportage, neither sentimental nor brusque, just frighteningly real.
  • Graham Greene–I’ve never read any Greene until this, and given this, and his reputation, I plan to correct that.
  • Eric Hansen–More Borneo, this time on foot rather than O’Hanlon’s river journey. Borneo’s a strange place.
  • Michael Asher–This is Arabia–another bit of difficult terrain.

[Finished 30 March 1993]

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