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The Best American Travel Writing 2006 (Best American Travel Writing)by Tim Cahill
Synopses & Reviews
Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads pieces from hundreds of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is widely recognized as a leading writer in his or her field. This unique system has helped make the Best American series the most respected — and most popular — of its kind. The Best American Travel Writing 2004 transports readers from Patagonia to Ivory Coast to small-town Vermont. Readers are treated to car and truck trips across America, can fall in lust in the South Pacific, and go into the heart of the Congo to rescue gorillas. This year's volume is edited by Pico Iyer, who writes in his fascinating introduction, Restlessness is part of the American way. It's part of what brought many of the rest of us to America. The Best American Travel Writing 2004 displays American restlessness at its most tantalizing and entertaining.
"Declares Cahill (Jaguars Ripped My Flesh) in his introduction to the seventh edition of Houghton's annual collection, 'Story is the essence of the travel essay.' So perhaps it's no surprise to see several contributions from writers with literary reputations. Gary Shteyngart revisits his native St. Petersburg for the holidays; George Saunders takes a surreal journey through Dubai; and Alain de Botton explains why he loves 'boring and bourgeois' Zurich so much. But more traditional travel writers make their presence felt as well. Outside columnist Mark Jenkins hikes across the steppes from Afghanistan into China; in another article from that magazine, Michael Behar finds himself getting shot at by natives in the rain forests of West Papua. Airplanes come in for a lot of ribbing: P.J. O'Rourke jokes his way through a sneak peek at the jumbo-sized Airbus A380, while David Sedaris bears the resentment of his seatmate on a crowded flight after refusing to switch places with her husband. In a charming touch, the anthology begins and ends with stories about food: Chitrita Banerji's reflections about a Calcutta wedding feast are book-ended by Calvin Trillin's marvelous New Yorker piece about spending a week in Ecuador indulging his love for 'thick and hearty' fanesca soup, a perfect mix of exotic locale and elegant prose." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Tim Cahill writes in his introduction to The Best American Travel Writing 2006, "'Story' is the essence of the travel essay. Stories are the way we organize the chaos in our lives, orchestrate voluminous factual material, and — if we are very good — shed some light on the human condition." Here are twenty-six pieces that showcase the best travel writing from 2005, filled with "keen observations that transform ordinary journeys into extraordinary ones" (Library Journal).
Mark Jenkins journeys into a forgotten valley in Afghanistan, Kevin Fedarko takes a wild ride through the rapids of the Grand Canyon, and Christopher Solomon reports on the newest fad to hit South Korea: downhill skiing. For David Sedaris, a seemingly routine domestic flight is cause for a witty rumination on modern airline travel. Alain de Botton describes the discreet charms of Zurich, and Ian Frazier recalls leaving the small Midwestern town he called home. Michael Paterniti gives a touching portrait of the world's tallest man — eight and a half feet and growing, while P.J. O'Rourke visits an airplane manufacturer to see firsthand how the French make the world's biggest passenger plane. George Saunders is dazzled by a trip to the "Vegas of the Middle East," Rolf Potts takes on tantric yoga for dilettantes, and Sean Flynn documents a seedier side of travel — the newest hotspot in the international sex trade.
Culled from a wide variety of publications, these stories, as Cahill writes, all "touched me in one way or another, changed an attitude, made me laugh aloud, or provided fuel for my dreams. I wish the reader similar joys."
'The set, boxed in a lavish silver metallic, features The Best
American Travel Writing 2006, edited by Tim Cahill; The Best American
Spiritual Writing 2006, introduced by Peter J. Gomes; and, like the first
set, The Best American Short Stories 2006, edited by Ann Patchett.'
A celebration of adventure and curiosity, this compilation transports readersfrom Patagonia to the Ivory Coast to small-town Vermont.
About the Author
Jason Wilson is a prolific travel writer, having published numerous travel essays in such publications as HEMISPHERES, THE WASHINGTON POST, TRAVEL &LEISURE, THE NEW YORK TIMES, P.O.V., NEW ENGLAND REVIEW, THE TIMES PICAYUNE, FLIGHT, CONTINENTAL, AMERICAN WAY, TRIP, THE PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER, among many other prestigious publications. His travel writing has also earned him three Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards for both "Best Magazine Article on a U.S. Destination" and "Best Magazine Article on a Foreign Destination," three Society of Professional Journalists Awards for Magazine Feature Writing, a Garden State Association of Black Journalists Award, and has been selected as "Notable Essay" in THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 1997, 1998, and 1999. Mr. Wilson was also the founder of the now-defunct, but well-loved travel journal, GRAND TOUR, which THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER called, "A travel journal with two kinds of writing: good and better," and which THE WASHINGTON POST called, "A fine new magazine...creating a new home for the best sort of travel writing...the editors have an eye for writers who can take the smallest moments of existence abroad, and exalt them." Mr. Wilson has taught magazine writing and creative writing at a number of universities, and will be teaching travel writing at the graduate level at Rosemont College in the Philadelphia area beginning in Spring 2000.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Jason Wilson ix Introduction by Tim Cahill xiv
Chitrita Banerji. A Shared Plate 1 from Gourmet
Michael Behar. The Selling of the Last Savage 6 from Outside
Paul Bennett. How to Sail Across the Atlantic 24 from National Geographic Adventure
Tom Bissell and Morgan Meis. After the Fall 44 from The Virginia Quarterly Review
Alain de Botton. The Discreet Charm of the Zurich Bourgeoisie 71 from FarFlungMagazine.com
Kevin Fedarko. Aint It Just Grand? 77 from Outside
Caitlin Flanagan. The Price of Paradise 93 from The New Yorker
Sean Flynn. Where They Love Americans . . . for a Living 105 from GQ
Ian Frazier. Out of Ohio 122 from The New Yorker
Tad Friend. The Parachute Artist 135 from The New Yorker
Pico Iyer. Our Lady of Lawson 153 from the New York Times Magazine
Mark Jenkins. A Short Walk in the Wakhan Corridor 156 from Outside
Heidi Julavits. Naked Ambition 175 from T: Travel, New York Times Style Magazine
Viyun Li. Passing Through 179 from the New York Times Magazine
P. J . ORourke. The Mother Load 182 from The Atlantic Monthly
Michael Paterniti. XXXXL 193 from GQ
Tony Perrottet. The Joy of Steam 211 from WorldHum.com
Rolf Potts. Tantric Sex for Dilettantes 218 from PerceptiveTravel.com
Kira Salak. Rediscovering Libya 224 from National Geographic Adventure
George Saunders. The New Mecca 239 from GQ
David Sedaris. Turbulence 264 from The New Yorker
Sally Shivnan. Airborne 271 from The Georgia Review
Gary Shteyngart. A St. Petersburg Christmas 282 from Travel Leisure
Christopher Solomon. Lets Ski Korea 291 from Ski
Patrick Symmes. A Peaceful Angle 300 from Outside
Calvin Trillin. Speaking of Soup 311 from The New Yorker
Contributors Notes 319 Notable Travel Writing of 2005 324
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