Monday, April 5, 2010

Travel Writing

I just finished reading "Sandstone Spine: Seaking the Anasazi" by David Roberts. It is a narrated account of three adventurist enthusiusts 18 day trek over Comb Ridge - 100+ mile rock ridge in Norther Arizona/Southern Utah. I read it, because on the trek the climbers came across many Anasazi ruins and the accounts of the history of the people who built the ruins, their place in history, the relationship between the various sites, and the original Anglos that discovered the sites all compaired to the text in archologic journals. The only difference is that having the archeology sprinkled between hard core rock climbing anticdotes made the overall read more engaging.

But I expect there aren't that many people busy researching the Anasazi who enjoy reading rock climbing adventures. So this book made we wonder about the overall market for travel writing. Doing a quick count, I have 35 travel books on the shelf in the room I'm currently sitting in. But these books are all published by people like Lonely Planet, National Geographic, and AAA. They are guild books designed to aid in actul travel, and fall into an entirely different genre than travel memoir.

I like Bill Bryson's travel memoir books, "A Walk in the Woods" and "In the Sunburned Country". But I think that mainly has to do with my liking Bill Bryson. Despite it's blockbuster status, I really didn't like "Eat Pray Love" all that much. "Sandstone Spine" was the first book by David Roberts that I read, and I don't have any plans to run out and devour the rest of his works.

From reading "Sandstone Spine" I gaged that in addition to writing several full length travel/adventure memoirs, he has also done a lot of writing for magazines like "Outdoor" and "Climbing". This makes a lot more sence to me. Die hards can read a few thousand words about cool artifacts that require hard core rock climbing prowis to view and before you know it, they've booked a trip to Southern Utah.

Similar travel memoir works well in periodicals about yatching, or deep sea diving, or wine tasting, or what ever. But when I reading full length books like "Eat Pray Love" I find myself thinking, if I spent a year in Italy, India, and Indonesia, I wouldn't have wasted all my time doing that. Why don't you tell me about the good stuff? Oh wait, that's right. You never bothered to look at the good stuff.

So what do you think? Is travel/memoir a viable genre? Am I not giving it a fair shot? What travel/memoirs have you read that have inspired you?

Joke of the Day
A man and his wife were driving across the country and were nearing a town spelled Kissimee. They noted the strange spelling and tried to figure how to pronounce it - KISS-a-me; kis-A-me; kis-a-ME. They grew more perplexed as they drove into the town.
Since they were hungry, they pulled into a place to get something to eat. At the counter, the man said to the waitress: "My wife and I can't seem to be able to figure out how to pronounce this place. Will you tell me where we are and say it very slowly so that I can understand."
The waitress looked at him and said: "Buuurrrgerrr Kiiiinnnng."

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