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A Sense of Placeby Michael Shapiro
Synopses & Reviews
In A Sense of Place, journalist/travel writer Michael Shapiro goes on a pilgrimage to visit the world's great travel writers on their home turf to get their views on their careers, the writer's craft, and most importantly, why they chose to live where they do and what that place means to them. The book chronicles a young writers conversations with his heroes, writers he's read for years who inspired him both to pack his bags to travel and to pick up a pen and write. Michael skillfully coaxes a collective portrait through his interviews, allowing the authors to speak intimately about the writer's life, and how place influences their work and perceptions.
In each chapter Michael sets the scene by describing the writer's surroundings, placing the reader squarely in the locale, whether it be Simon Winchester's Massachusetts, Redmond O'Hanlon's London, or Frances Mayes's Tuscany. He then lets the writer speak about life and the world, and through quiet probing draws out fascinating commentary from these remarkable people. For Michael its a dream come true, to meet his mentors; for readers, it's an engaging window onto the twin landscapes of great travel writers and the world in which they live.
"Journalist Shapiro (Internet Travel Planner) says that he embarked on this collection of illuminating interviews with the desire to learn more about his favorite authors, about 'their lives, their hopes, their aspirations, and their thoughts about the world.' He set out to meet publishing veterans such as Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods), Jan Morris (Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere), Paul Theroux (The Great Railway Bazaar) and Peter Matthiessen (The Snow Leopard), writers whose insights do indeed make for fascinating reading. But Shapiro's discussions with novelist Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits) and guidebook gurus Rick Steves and Arthur Frommer prove equally enlightening. In the chapter 'At Home with the Spirits,' for example, Allende talks about the ways in which travel informs and influences her work. She likens the memories someone keeps from a trip to the significant details that get included in a particular story: 'The person doesn't bring back the month; the person brings back the big strokes, the brilliant colors, the intense experiences, and in a week you have forgotten how uncomfortable you were and the mosquitoes. You only remember those things that eventually you might write about.' Conversations such as these help Shapiro's book live up to its ambitious title. By combining brief profiles with lengthy Q&As for each author, he provides a comprehensive look at the process these and other writers often go through, making the volume a good choice for both armchair travelers and aspiring writers." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Great writers inspire readers to head out in search of foreign sunsets, but in this instance, they inspired travel writer Michael Shapiro to head out for the great writers themselves. A Sense of Place is one writer's journey to visit all the heroes who have motivated him — to pack a pen and toothbrush, to find out where they live, why they chose the place, and how it influences their writing. In each scene, readers, writers, and travelers are given a glimpse of the locale and surroundings of the writer: Simon Winchester's Massachusetts, Redmond O'Hanlon's London, Jan Morris's Wales, or Frances Mayes's Tuscany. But then it's left up to the writers themselves to situate the reader and describe their lives, their craft, and their remarkable world, which they do with living room intimacy. The result is engaging, illuminating, and transporting for writers and travelers alike.
"A Sense of Place" is one writer's journey to visit all the heroes who have motivated him--to pack a pen and toothbrush, to find out where they live, why they chose the place, and how it influences their writing.
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