Don George is the founder and editor of the award-winning 'Wanderlust' which has been cited twice by Time magazine as the top site for travel writing online. The former travel editor of the San Francisco Examiner, George is an established figure in the travel world.
Since Salon.com shut down its Wanderlust section earlier this year (there weren't enough page views to satisfy investors) and since George, the section's editor, has been reduced to contributing a weekly column, this collection preserves in print articles that were likely to become Internet ephemera. The 40 stories are tuned for the computer-screen reader: they are all quick, attention-grabbing, first-person narrativesÄas short and direct as a shot of espresso. One-third come from well-known writers, including a handful of brand-name travel writers such as Jan Morris, Peter Mayle, Pico Iyer, Tim Cahill and even Tony Wheeler, the founder of the Lonely Planet guidebooks. The others come from Salon's multifaceted contributors, many of whom have published books of their own. The best work here uses irony to convey the complex nature of travel in the age of the Internet, when much of the world is only a mouse click away. Rolf Potts's story "Storming the Beach," for example, contains daily e-mail dispatches about the author's attempt to replicate the events of Alex Garland's novel The Beach by substituting the fictional beach with the actual Thai beach where a film of the novel is being shot. "The Last Tourist in Mozambique" details Mary Roach's discovery that it is easier to get the country's president to talk about transcendental meditation than it is to convert dollars into local currency. Salon has always been a self-consciously literary Web site, so it is no surprise that these stories survive the transition from the computer screen to the printed page. But the shutdown of the site's Wanderlust section may limit the readership for this pleasant anthology. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
This collection of travel and adventure stories contains a host of respected authors - all of whom have contributed to the Wanderlust website. The quality of writing is very high. Here we have Simon Winchester with Romance in Romania, Isabel Allende On the Amazon, Jan Morris with The Meaning of Gdansk, Carlos Fuentes on How Zurich Invented the Modern World, Peter Mayle's The Dangers of Provence. Such variety set side by side complements and enriches each other by association. In all there are 43 (fairly short) essays, in effect adding up to a taster of modern travel writing, the whole book being much more than the sum of its parts. James Houston's riotous Where the Hula Goddess Lives is particularly entertaining, as is the more whimsical Tampax Nightmares by Susan Hack. Those who enjoy fine travel writing will like all of the work here, and even those who normally don't will find this an entertaining book to explore.
This collection of 42 travel essays includes some unpublished material and some award-winning tales that are described as "the best of Salon.com," an Internet-based company with 11 original content sites. George, former travel editor at the San Francisco Examiner, the author of over 500 articles, and a columnist at Salon.com, has collected the works of diverse authors, including well-known writers such as Peter Mayle and Isabel Allende and David Kohn, coordinating producer at CBSNews.com. The varied topics range from Susan Hack's amusing search for Tampax in Yemen to Tanya Shaffer's touching search for a friend in Casablanca. At best, this collection provides a valuable insight into other cultures and perspectives described through the travelers' own preconceptions. For example, Sallie Tisdale's "On Japanese Trains" beautifully describes Japanese culture from the viewpoint of American travelers taking the trains, depicting how the travelers imagine they appear to those around them. Recommended for larger public libraries where travel essays are popular.DAlison Hopkins, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.