Friday, January 20, 2006

The Best American Travel Writing, 2002, Edited by Frances Mayes

I've always been attracted to this series "The Best American ...." (short stories, essays, etc.) but have never stuck with any of the volumes. I think it goes back to my distaste for short stories. I don't like all the starting and stopping. But when I have tried the collections, I've been impressed by the high quality. I guess, if they're going to call them "the best" they had better be good.

Late last year, after I got my MP3 player, I tried listening to one collection of travel essays (Best of 2003) and found that to be the perfect delivery system. The starting and stopping bothers me less in an audiobook. And if you lose the thread a little, you can start over again with the next essay. This collection (2002) was as good as the 2003 collection. My only complaint is that the audiobooks are abridged collections. There are probably only about a third of the essays that appeared in the print volume. I wonder why they don't provide all of them. I would happily listen to them all.

The best essays in this volume were Forty Years in Acapulco by Devin Friedman, a moving essay about the author's grandfather and his annual trip to Mexico, and In the Land of the White Rajahs by Lawrence Millman, about Borneo. The essay is reprinted here, on the Islands magazine site:

I'm getting more and more interested in reading and listening to travel writing, and have put other travelogues on hold also. I've got one by Paul Theroux that is a 21 CD collection! We'll see how that goes.

You can read more about this book here.
(Book 4, 2006)


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