Feb 01, Dan rated it really liked it. In his comprehensive introduction to the "New Granta Book of Travel," Jonathan Raban entices by asking why it is we read travel narratives. Raban says we turn to travel stories because they represent an escape, a means to "take us to places that we think of as being too dangerous, too difficult, or too expensive to visit for ourselves.
Travel stories, invariably written in the first person, also give us a way to talk about ourselves. It's al In his comprehensive introduction to the "New Granta Book of Travel," Jonathan Raban entices by asking why it is we read travel narratives. It's all me, me, me and where the "I" of the story is not merely a reporter and an eyewitness but an active participant. Many of the 23 stories in the "Book of Travel" are extremely personal, almost private. In "Trespass," Paul Theroux, recounts a sexual adventure 40 years before in Malawi in Africa where he came to understand what it meant to be an American, a foreigner and a wanderer among strangers.
The trip from airport to hostel is the Ugandan's introduction to English manners and rectitude. Among many marvels, he discovers that train travel in England takes place without the accompaniment of cattle, goats, pigs, chickens and varieties of agricultural produce. In "When I was Lost," the author descends in an egg-like submersible three miles below the surface of the Atlantic. He discovers what isolation and detachment can really mean. Hers is a ramble in the winter-brown moors of Lowland Scotland that lasts but an hour but conjures up eons of history and generations of family lore and memories.
Apr 30, Richard Newton rated it really liked it Shelves: travel-and-the-world. Travel writing is a wide genre. Anything set in somewhere that is not here whether close or far away , or about the actual process of travelling, can be considered as travel writing. This book is a wide ranging and varied set of travel writing. It contains a few essays in the form of the traditional travellers journeys - stories of exotic and far away geographies, but mostly this is about people and societies. If you want traditional travellers tales of exciting journeys in rarely trodden paths Travel writing is a wide genre.
If you want traditional travellers tales of exciting journeys in rarely trodden paths you will be disappointed, but if you want a view of society in different places this may well interest. Some of the essays are sad reminders of the state of the world, and in one case The Paris Intifada how physically close that sad world is! As an anthology it is not surprising that some of the essays are of variable quality. There are sections of absolute 5 star brilliance, interspersed with less well written and less interesting essays.
However, overall this is a worthy read and the brilliant essays are really brilliant. There is no theme to the book, other than these can all be classified as travel writing - and if you are the type to sit and read a book end to end this can sometimes make the transition from one essay to the next a little jarring. But dip in and pick them out when you feel like a short read and you will find some real jewels in this book.
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The New Granta Book of Travel by Liz Jobey
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