Tag

travel writing

To The Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace

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Kapka Kassabova is taking us back to the Balkans. I’ve been looking forward to something new from this wonderful writer since Border, which was my top travel read of 2018. That earlier book touched on the author’s childhood in Bulgaria, and To The Lake takes us deeper as she journeys to her grandmother’s place of origin in the mountainous Macedonian lake district. The region was once an important...

Do you believe in the spirit of place?

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The novelist and island writer Lawrence Durrell believed we are each aligned with certain places. This is where we do our best work because we resonate with the Spirit of Place.  He believed landscape is not a projection of the psyche — an interpretation of your surroundings based on your interior — but a tutelary spirit which guides the growth of personality and art. This isn’t an original...

Will travel writing survive COVID-19?

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The future looks bleak for travel writing — at least, for the highly commercialized side — but I don’t think this is true for travel literature. They aren’t the same thing. What’s on the ropes? Most commercial travel writing exists symbiotically with the tourism industry, living off press junkets, review writing and advertising. It’s designed to sell a product or a destination. This side of...

Travels With Myself And Another

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How did I live for 47 years without reading Martha Gellhorn? She’s best known in some circles for her brief wartime marriage to the writer Ernest Hemingway, much to her chagrin. But she is better known as a brilliant war correspondent and travel writer, though she wanted to be remembered as a novelist. She covered the Spanish Civil War, went ashore on the beaches of Normandy on June 7, 1944, and...

The Riverbones

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It’s been a while since I reviewed a recent travel book. This one stood out among the books I read last month. The Riverbones by Andrew Westoll Andrew Westoll spent a year as a primatologist chasing monkeys through the jungles of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve. He returned five years later as a writer obsessed with finding the secret soul of this poorly understood country. Few...

Memory Breeds Paper Dreams

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Jenny from Sydney, Australia asked: How did you become interested in writing? I wonder sometimes what came first, the stories or the intention to write them? I think, in a sense, I’ve always lived posthumously. Even when I really got myself into trouble as a kid, part of me knew that the incident I was caught up in would make a great story and that I had to go through with it. I was always...

Road Wisdom Top 10 Travel Books

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  No one likes a well thought out reading list more than I do. They obsess me, it’s true. But they also serve to focus my efforts, reveal themes and dialogues that pass from author to author, and expose me to new writers I might not otherwise have read. I’m just a few books away from completing the Modern Library’s Top 100 Books of the 20th Century—a project I’ve been...

The Tools of My Trade

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As a professional travel writer, people often ask me about the tools of my trade. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about my notebook. “Your notebook?” you might ask. “What the hell for? Isn’t one piece of paper as good as the next?” Au contraire, mon ami. Ask a craftsman who works with wood if one hammer or chisel is as good as another. Ask an...

Getting in to North Korea

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This is the first in a multi-part blog on North Korea… Many readers have asked about my time in North Korea. Why did I go? How did I get in? What was I thinking? I’ll start at the beginning. It was August 2001, a month before 9/11 changed the world forever. I was living and working in Tokyo. Summer vacation was coming up, and I planned to visit a friend in Indonesia. The problem is...

Images of London

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We’ll get to North Korea soon, I promise. I’m in London at the moment and wanted to share something with you. Spent some time searching for the tomb of one of my heroes. He’s buried in a marble replica of a Bedouin tent in a little cemetery in Mortlake…   Captain Richard Francis Burton lived a life people today would hardly find believable. He spoke some 29 languages...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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