I’m back — for now

I

A short post-Canada update now that I’m back in Berlin.

Thank you to everyone who packed the room for my talk at the Prescott Public Library. 

Special thanks to those who spent hours on the highway driving from Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Syracuse NY. 

It was nice to see so many old and new faces — especially on a sunny summer Saturday when everyone would much rather be outdoors. I really appreciated your thoughtful questions about Malta and my book.

The public library was just a block away from our old house. I could see it from my childhood bedroom. My mother likes to say I was its youngest member. Each time she tells the story it becomes a little more triumphant and a little less believable. First I was 5 years old, then 4, and in the most recent version, I was 2. I’m pretty sure the truth of the matter is that I was given my own library card a couple years ahead of the minimum age. They made an exception for me because I was borrowing so many books on her card.

I passed entire Saturday afternoons there as a teenager. I sat in the padded chairs of the adult section leafing through travel magazines and books about other countries, taking exotic journeys that occurred solely in my imagination. The larger world seemed a long way away from my insular small town life. It would be many years before I could conceive of going there for real.

I left a few copies of A Sunny Place for Shady People in Prescott for those of you who couldn’t make it but would like a copy at a few bucks off the Canadian cover price. Send me a message through the contact form here on my website for details  — but don’t take too long. I don’t know how long they’ll last.

I hadn’t been to Canada since 2022. 

A weird thing kept happening to me as I drove through town. I’d see an old person who looked vaguely familiar and think, “I must have gone to school with their kid…” And then I’d realize that’s the person I went to school with. 

I wanted to say, “I don’t feel the way you look, pal.” But given the amount of cheese curd, butter tarts and tiger tail ice cream I ate, I can’t be that far off.

So anyway, yeah, I’m back at my desk in Berlin.

A Sunny Place for Shady People is finally available in Europe. Copies have started reaching readers on the continent and in the UK, and hopefully soon in Malta.

Thank you to those who sent me photos of or with the book. My favourite quote so far comes from my friend Lietje Boissevain, daughter of anthropologist Jeremy Boissevain, whose work I quoted in my book. Her 94-year-old mother is reading it. “She says you write extremely well, great observer,” Lietje told me. “She says you have the eye of an anthropologist.” High praise from someone who spent so much of her life in the place I was writing about.

In other news…

Watch for more Personal Landscapes podcast episodes — probably after a bit of a break. I’m doing the reading for new conversations now.

I’ve also got an editor looking at a new book about an older journey, the last one I took in the pre-smartphone age. I’ll try to sit at my desk long enough to finish that off.

That being said, I’ve only been back here a week and I’m already plotting trips. New material is subject to travel delays. If I can get out of here again, I will.

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About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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