Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Joel Smith & r & The Best AmericanTravel Writing 2006 Edited by Tim Cahill & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & E & lt;/span & very year, travel writer Jason Wilson combs through hundreds of published travel essays from the last 12 months and sends the best 100 to that year's guest editor, who culls it down according to his or her taste. The 2001 edition, under Paul Theroux's watch, was full of political reportage and grave commentary. Frances Mayes' 2002 collection was sunny and Tuscan. Jamaica Kincaid gave the 2005 book a more exotic flavor.





This year's editor is Tim Cahill, one of the founding editors of Outside magazine and the writer of several high-energy, smart-alecky travel tomes, with titles like Jaguars Ripped My Flesh and Pecked to Death by Ducks. It would seem likely, then, that this edition might be full of pulpy, boyish, adventure-bounding, death-defying, spine-tingling travel tales, but no. Cahill writes in his introduction that he wanted to emphasize story this year. Not place or even the act/art of traveling. But rather compellingly crafted narratives.





"Ask anyone who has just returned from a trip how it went, and you are not likely to get directions," he writes. "You'll hear stories."





But while Cahill's travelers indeed brought back some fine stories, they brought back even better photographs. Some of the best pieces in this year's collection aren't full stories at all, but snapshots, portraits -- those odd but affecting moments that unfold unexpectedly somewhere between Boston and Bangalore, between exposition and denouement.





Pico Iyer's three-page elegy for the mom and pop convenience store in his Japanese town is among the finest of these. Sean Flynn paints an illuminating picture of the Costa Rican sex trade almost solely by describing -- in detail -- one San Jose bar that's a magnet for horny gringos. Michael Paterniti's XXXXL is truest to the paradigm. Not really a story or a travelogue, it's a giant portrait of one of the world's tallest men, a sensitive and solitary Ukrainian farmer who hides out in his apple orchard. But it speaks volumes about the man's homeland.





Cahill forgot: You don't get to hear the stories until you sit through the slideshow. This one's a joy.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Rich Man, Poor Men
  • Rich Man, Poor Men

    Can the wealthiest U.S. president ever help the poorest U.S. citizens?
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • La Resistance
  • La Resistance

    Michael Moore, Congressional Democrats and local progressives: How they are resisting Donald Trump's agenda
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Must-See TV?
  • Must-See TV?

    Alternatives to the inauguration (and how to make watching more fun if you have to)
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Women's March on Spokane

Women's March on Spokane @ Spokane Convention Center

Sat., Jan. 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • The Landed and the White

    How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Comment


Briefs


marijuana


green zone


Politics


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • The <i>Real</i> Rachel Dolezal
  • The Real Rachel Dolezal

    The story goes far beyond just a white woman portraying herself as black
    • Jun 17, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation