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    #26
    Travel writing

    I am currently reading Frank Westerman's Ararat which I have found to be a little dijointed and memoir like, not what it says on the cover then, but still interesting all the same. I would recommend it as both the writing and the translation of it make it flow in a kind of homely way.

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      #27
      Travel writing

      I've only recently gained more of an appreciation for travel writing (too many light and, I suppose, Bryson-esque books had turned me off) so some of these recommendations will be gladly followed up up, thank you.

      I really enjoyed Tibetan Marches by Andre Migot, from the 40's/50's but a really great story. It works as an introduction to Tibetan history, but also as an exciting adventure story. The writing is engaging and the man's own fascination and respect for other cultures comes through strongly.
      Obviously the style is drier than modern travel tales but I still warmed to him.
      The book is about his attempt to get to Lhasa, and the endless difficulties of this.

      For those that like Dalrymple, I would also recommend Mark Tully's Indian books if you need a further fix of informed but not overly academic Indian essays.

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        #28
        Travel writing

        Thanks for that CD, I'll check out Migot. I've just fallen for the hype and started Thubron's To a Mountain in Tibet, and very glad I am. Lovely writing.

        I quite like Bryson in small doses, but I never really think of him as a travel writer, more a chap with a good line in witty anecdotes. I'll swear he makes most of his 'facts' up though, or sub-contracts the research to people who do.

        I can second your recommendation of Tully. He's never sentimental about India, but so obviously cares.

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          #29
          Travel writing

          I'd endorse Theroux, Morris and Bryson. All of whom are delicious writers, for different reasons. I think my favourite travel books though are by authors whose are doing something besides describing the places they're travelling through. Tuva or Bust by Richard Feynman and Ralph Leighton is a kind of Johnson/Boswell picaresque tale where the wonder of science meets the process of travel... or something. It's mostly about two friends talking about what they're interested in mainly science and drumming while they wait for visas, and it's quite delightful. Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox I've mentioned here before. Journalist Victoria Finlay travels around the world tracking down the source of pigments. Among other places her route takes her to cochineal farms in Chile, ochre pits in Australia and Lapis mines in Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Fascinating stuff.

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            #30
            Travel writing

            I'll throw out a few more of my faves. These are not your conventional travel books. They are nominated for their adventure degree.

            COYOTES by Ted Conover. The author blends in w/ Mexicans who come over to the U.S. seeking migrant work. Wish I could force-feed this one on the anti-immigrant crowd.

            ROAD FEVER by Tim Cahill. Crazed co-driving trek from Tierra Del Fuego to Prudhoe Bay. Most of Cahill's other books are compilations of shorter articles (dealing w/ nature & outdoors) which are also quite good.

            WALK ACROSS AMERICA by Peter Jenkins. This is his first and by far, best book. I should say the first 7/8 of it is a great look at rural americana. The last 1/8 is somewhat disappointing as he experiences a religious conversion (from a noted fraud televangelist) during a revival in Alabama.

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              #31
              Travel writing

              I'll offer my backing for Newby, unreservedly. I've enjoyed Dalrymple a lot. Fermor is fantastic, particularly his walk to Istanbul stuff, although sometimes it feels a little overwritten. Kapuscinski I discovered thanks to OTF and, whilst it's not exactly travel writing in the normal sense, it is brilliant. On the same sorts fringes of travel writing, again, Fitzroy Maclean is wonderful, particularly in Eastern Approaches. Robert Byron is a common touchstone, but the more I read the less I enjoyed - it's perhaps too conservative for me, and also maybe too much focussed on art and architecture for my tastes.

              I really enjoyed Martha Gellhorn's Travels with Myself and Another. On a more modern note, and more humorous, much lighter and less intelligent, I was very entertained reading Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson.

              And I really like Jonathan Raban's travel books, particularly Old Glory.

              Of the most famous of travel writers, I've oddly never read any Theroux or Thesiger; Bryson I found come across as a bit trite and obvious at times but I may have just reacted against his popularity and should have read more widely. And the one Thubron I tried to read, In Siberia, I found incredibly dull. Wordy and unenlightening.

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                #32
                Travel writing

                I was turned against Theroux because the first book I ever read of his was called "The Happy Isles of Oceania" which I read when I was myself living in Micronesia. It is the most negative, miserable, depressing book imaginable (the title is supposed to be throughly ironic). I like my travel writers to tell it like it is, warts and all, but I don't want them to be complete cunts.

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                  #33
                  Travel writing

                  I'll concur w/ ad hoc re: Theroux. I've read Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonia Express, and The Kingdom by the Sea and he comes off as a miserable bastard.

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                    #34
                    Travel writing

                    Theroux seems in particularly miserable form in the book I've picked up, "The Pillars of Hercules" - only 30 pages in and he's wriiten off Gibraltar as "Weston-super-Mare-on-the-Med" and condemned southern Spain as a garish, over-developed hellhole, both of which are probably true, but Murphy, Bryson or Darymple would still find some neglected nugget to add some postivity.

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                      #35
                      Travel writing

                      Theroux is a miserable git, but I still enjoy reading him; other than his literary qualities, he seems to anticipate the awfulness of everything, but still marches straight into it anyway without any attempt to mitigate things. In a strange way, I sort of admire that.

                      Also, one of the big pleasures of travelling I always think, is the feeling of having been out of one's comfort zone and yet coped and still had a good time. Theroux makes me feel better about myself in this respect!

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                        #36
                        Travel writing

                        Just going to add that I've just finished Tibetan Marches and it is, indeed, wonderful. Thanks for the recommendation CD.

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                          #37
                          Travel writing

                          oh excellent, I'm glad you enjoyed. I will read your Thurbon recommendation as soon as I have any money to buy books again.
                          Also on my to-read list and Tibet vibe is Patrick French's Tibet Tibet. I enjoyed one of his India books, and I was told Tibet Tibet a good introduction, or general account, of all things Tibet.

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                            #38
                            Travel writing

                            Moonlight shadow wrote:
                            Jan Morris book about Trieste was a good read, very melancholy at times.
                            I was in need of a new book a couple of months ago and I remember reading this recommendation (for some reason, in my head the rec had been much more emphatic) so I bought a copy. I thought it was wonderful. Only remembered recently where I'd read this mention so thought I'd give it another thumbs up.

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                              #39
                              Travel writing

                              ad hoc wrote:
                              I'd like to offer up Patrick Leigh Fermor and Eric Newby
                              I've been reading the latter off and on; turns out I vaguely knew the son of his companion, Carless. You can probably guess where I met him.

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                                #40
                                Travel writing

                                Why at Last! wrote:
                                I vaguely knew the son of his companion, Carless. You can probably guess where I met him.
                                At the bus stop?

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                                  #41
                                  Travel writing

                                  Brandenburger Toro wrote:
                                  One I found by an OTF recommendation is Alan Booth. His Looking for the Lost and The Roads to Sata, both about walking around Japan, are among the best things I've ever read.
                                  I can't remember whether or not it was me who recommended them when we did this sort of thing before, but these are the best travel books that I've read about Japan by an absolute street. Of the two, I just prefer Sata.

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                                    #42
                                    Travel writing

                                    benjm wrote:
                                    Why at Last! wrote:
                                    I vaguely knew the son of his companion, Carless. You can probably guess where I met him.
                                    At the bus stop?
                                    Superb.

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                                      #43
                                      Travel writing

                                      V.S. Naipaul - Among the Believers. It's a reissue of a book originally written immediately after the Iranian Revolution, and visits are made to Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia as well as the Islamic Republic. The most interesting aspect is his exploration of Tehran with Bezhad, a communist intellectual, who sees his dreams of a revolutionary society crumble within months. The other chapters pale in comparison, but the tension between local society and the West appears to be accurately portrayed. As an atheist/lapsed Hindu, Naipaul struggles and largely fails to comprehend the religious mentality, and signs of the future racist controversy are visible when he calls a Pakistani black man an African.

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                                        #44
                                        And today Dervla Murphy celebrates her 90th birthday, with RTE Radio One paying extensive tributes to the Lismore native, and the Vimeo website making the documentary "Who Is Dervla Murphy?" free to watch for 24 hours.

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                                          #45
                                          For the sake of symmetry your post was three days early.
                                          Last edited by Tony C; 01-12-2021, 07:29.

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                                            #46
                                            Originally posted by Discordant Resonance View Post
                                            And today Dervla Murphy celebrates her 90th birthday, with RTE Radio One paying extensive tributes to the Lismore native, and the Vimeo website making the documentary "Who Is Dervla Murphy?" free to watch for 24 hours.
                                            She has just died, with President Higgins one of the first to pay tribute.

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