Monday, January 5, 2009

American Travelers

Forget those bad travel stories where American travelers end up in prison or set off for a new life and suffer... (although these were interesting reads.) I'm talking about interesting or good travel, without much torture, anyway. I think the first travel book I read was Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. Then Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, On the Road by Kerouac. But going way, way back, children's book author Lois Lenski took me places, like to Arkansas, and she included maps. She wasn't writing about fun travel when she wrote about the children of itinerant farm workers, but it was interesting all the same.

Maps are always a plus as far as I'm concerned. This one is from From Here, You Can't See Paris: Seasons of a French Village and Its Restaurant by Michael S. Sanders. There are a of foodie travel books and they rarely disappoint.

The top travel writers for me are Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson. They've had some great travel experiences. I remember a friend telling me they probably made a lot of stuff up, and I replied that when you travel all the way around Great Britain by yourself, you don't need to make anything up, but you probably have to leave stuff out.

Bryson is interesting because he lived in England for so long. On his return to America, he tried to walk the entire Appalachian Trail. I had that audio book, and I really liked Bill Bryson's voice as well as his story.

American Adman Peter Mayle writes about living in Provence ~ does this count as travel ? I can see there are many categories within travel. Maybe I can include bad travel novels after all. I did read some interesting Margaret Mead in college, and a decade ago our bookshelves held too many outdated travel guides. As a kid I liked reading about explorers, and settled on polar exploration as my favorite read. Sara Wheeler's Terra Incognita: Travels in Antartica was an enjoyable read, but I don't think she's an American, so she doesn't really fit into this post. Oh well.
There's space travel... didn't Astronaut Jim Lovell write about it in his biography? Some memoirs have a lot of travel in them, and some novels are travel / anthpology novels like Far Afield by Susanna Kaysen.

A Wolverine is Eating my Leg ~ by Tim Cahill (I think this one was all travel essays, it was lounging around our house for years and one day it just vanished.)

Read any good places lately?

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness
~ Mark Twain


R.L. Bourges said...

'you probably have to leave stuff out' sounds about right. The plausibility factor at work.

A Wolverine is Eating my Leg?!? (Maybe the wolverine ate the book while he/she was at it? They're fairly rabid in their habits, I hear).

Peter Mayle's Provence reminds me of those coffee table cookbooks - pretty to look at but god forbid you bring the book into the kitchen.

Have you ever read Tevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes? It's quite good (in my opinion, worth the read just for the donkey ).

tut-tut said...

I suggest Julia Reed for a trip down South.

My Classic Fiction Book List -Partial List

  • Austen, Jane: (Complete Works)
  • Balzac: Cousin Bette/ Eugenie Grandet / Cousin Pons
  • Best Russian Short Stories
  • Boyle, TC: Short Works
  • Brennan, Maeve : Short Works, 1 Novella
  • Bronte, Emily, Ann, Jane (Complete Works)
  • Brookner, Anita ( Complete Works)
  • Cather, Willa (Complete Works)
  • Chekov: Short Works
  • David Copperfield (Dickens)
  • Dickens:A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens:Great Expectations
  • Dickens:Nicholas Nickelby
  • Dickens:Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens:The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Doyle, Roddy (some novels, memoir)
  • Drabble, Margaret (4 Novels)
  • Drieser, Theodore (Complete Works)
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott (Most Novels & short works)
  • Hardy, Thomas (Complete Works)
  • Hemingway, Short stories
  • Hemingway: The Old Man in the Sea
  • Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  • Hugo: Les Miserables/Hunchback Of ND
  • James, Henry: Daisy Miller
  • James, Henry: In The Cage
  • James, Henry: Portrait of a Lady
  • James, Henry: The Golden Bowl
  • James, Henry: What Maisy Knew
  • James, Henry: Wings of a Dove
  • James, Henry:The Ambassadors
  • James, Henry; The Bostonians
  • Kerouac: Dharma Bums
  • Kerouac: On The Road
  • Kerouac: The Subterraneans
  • Kerouac: Tristessa
  • Lardner,Ring:Short Works
  • Larsen: Quicksand
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Arrowsmith
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Free Air
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street
  • Lewis, Sinclair: The Job
  • MacGill, Patrick (Complete works)
  • Mackin, Walter (novels)
  • Maupassant: Short Works, novels
  • McGahern, John (novels of)
  • McNulty, John (Short Works)
  • Norris, Frank: McTeague
  • O'Brien, Edna (3 Novels)
  • O'Donnell, Paeder : Novels of
  • O. Henry
  • Potok, Chaim (4 novels/1 non fiction)
  • Salinger, JD : Nine Stories
  • Salinger: Franny & Zooey
  • Salinger: Raise High the Roofbeams
  • Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Dodsworth
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Elmer Gantry
  • Sinclair, Upton: King Coal
  • Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle
  • Steinbeck, John: Sweet Thursday
  • Steinbeck: Winter of our Discontent
  • Steinbeck: Cannery Row
  • Steinbeck: East of Eden
  • Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Theroux, Paul (3 Novels )
  • Toibin, Colm: (Novels of)
  • Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Tolstoy: Short Works
  • Turgenev (2 novels)
  • Twain: T Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi
  • Vonnegut: Early Works (1950s-60s)
  • Wharton, Edith: Novels of/Short Stories
  • Women & Fiction (Edit. Cahill)
  • Zola, Emile ( 10 novels)