July 22

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“The world is not as small as Google Earth depicts it.”

Here is an article from the Financial Times on travel writing. The piece, titled “The places in between,” is a little cranky – Paul Theroux penned it, after all – but interesting nonetheless. I especially love the line I quoted above, and the following bit:

So where are we now? Of course, many would-be travel writers are plodding in the footsteps of those who have gone before and repeating or correcting the impressions. An irritating tendency of those books, and of travel pieces in general, is the use of the present tense: “I am on a bus in Bhutan and the woman next to me is smoking a cigar … ” There is a new frivolity in travel books, there is mock-drama, there is obvious embroidering, there is the frivolous quest as a theme. Such books do not interest me at all.

I have a love for reading about a really difficult trip, even better an ordeal. Such books, written with skill and appropriate detail, will always find a public, because they combine travel with problem solving and endurance, and that I suppose is the human condition. These people are suffering for us.

You can find the story here.

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