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I Should Have Stayed at Home: Worst Trips of Great Writers (Travel Literature Series) Paperback – 1 Sep 1995
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"Bestseller. The paperback sleeper of the year."
An anthology of 50 travel writers, journalists and novelists who tell their worst travel nightmares. It includes stories from people such as Isabel Allende who froze in a battered camper in Paris, Richard Harris under suspicion of smuggling a reptile on the Mexican-US border, Paul Theroux running off a hangover in Zambia, and Jeff Greenwald dunking into an electric bath in Tokyo. Royalties from the book are being donated to Oxfam.
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The story I end up telling about my latest trip is always of the unexpected. So, with these stories, the unexpected becomes the most memorable, the funniest, or saddest, or most uncomfortable, or dire.
While travel magazines and websites are filled with happy talk, I should have stayed home is believable. Jan Morris has the last word: "nothing bad ever happens to me." She puzzles as to why her experiences are unlike most in the book.
Roger Rapoport finds himself in a sea of couples and places made for coupling when he visits Maui right after he and his wife decide to divorce. Joe Gores has trouble getting out of Africa. Richard Harris is suspect at the Nogales border crossing because of something in his gear. Jeff Greenwald takes an electric bath in Japan. Isabel Allende remembers a European trip on $1 a day. And, how about Muriel Dobbin's round the world trip on Air Force One with President Johnson?
Each story is told with rueful humor by someone who has experienced something unexpected on a trip and realizes that's really what we travel for.
Rick Steves, Paul Theroux, Molly Giles, Georgia Hesse, and more entertain the readers often with their own discomfort, or errors, or mishap. It's well worth the read, And, keep it in mind the next time something doesn't go right on your trip.
RVing Solo Across America . . . without a cat, dog, man, or gun
That was a mistake.
From the very beginning, uninspired writing met uninteresting events, and continued on until the last deflating note. I wish I could say that there were some redeeming stories in this collection, but I could not find them. For example, the best written tale, by Suzanne Lipsett, explained how she was ostracized by a couple after giving the young lady of the duo a haircut that her boyfriend hated. Not exactly the inspiration for an Indiana Jones movie.
If you like your travel writing to contain a whopping dollop of boredom with a garnishing sprinkle of revulsion, then this book may be for you. If not, then quickly scout the exits and make a break for the door.
However, you're going to see highly-educated writers employing vulgar language from time to time. If you think it's trendy and counter-cultural to use the F-word in literature, then this book is for you.
Also, some writers are writing more to complain then they are to describe an actual horrible travel experience. Helen Gurley Brown whines about how shaving cream got on her husband's clothes in his suitcase and how she had to wait in line in India to upgrade the tickets on their flight. Ridiculous for someone who was all about creating an image of women years ago that was the opposite of her behavior in the India piece.
Another author complains of initially being denied admission to the Rainbow Room because she was under-dressed. She was allowed in, though. Things like this make it hard for the common reader to identify and relate to parts of this book - everyone travels, but not as pretentiously as others.