"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"With his characteristic curiosity and his insatiable desire to drink as deeply as he can from the wells of landscape or literature, Raban (Passage to Juneau) once again vividly captures the experience of trying to make a home in a place that he continues to find fascinating, bizarre, ugly, beautiful, repellent, and generous. Raban moved to Seattle from London in 1990, imagining that the life of writing could easily be transported in an age of instant communication, and because he met someone. In this diverse collection of dispatches from life in a new land, Raban ranges widely over the territory into which he has alighted, exploring the turbulence of waves as he sails the Pacific coast, the vagaries of American politics, the destructive ravages of natural disasters such as the Mississippi floods of 1992, and the difficulty of going home again. Drawing on two then new books on the mid-20th-century photographer Dorothea Lange, for example, Raban adroitly observes that 'across the rural West the Great Depression is less a historical event than a permanent condition... the warning in the rearview mirror applies here: the lives in Lange's photographs for the FSA are closer than they appear.' In one of the collection's most charming pieces, 'Why Travel?' he ruminates about the ways to turn travel into adventure: 'The good traveler is an inveterate snoop... worming your way into the skin of a true denizen, you begin to see the landscape itself as a real place and not just as a the pretty backdrop to your own holiday.' Like a stalwart travel guide, Raban points out the charming as well as the peculiar details of America's cultural, political, and physical landscape. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Throughout [Driving Home], Raban reveals the traits that have long endeared him to his readers — a curiosity about the quirkiness of people and places, a ferocious love for the land, an elegance (but never pretentiousness) of style, self-deprecation and an unusual ability to inhabit the imaginations of his interlocutors....Full of ideas that move through the language with the grace of a well-captained sailboat."
by Gilbert Taylor, Booklist,
"Raban stands detached from cant and superficiality, which is perhaps prerequisite for the striking originalities and aperçus with which he leavens [Driving Home, which] functions excellently as a smorgasbord. Sampling some of everything, readers may gladly follow Raban for layers beneath the surfaces of his subjects, becoming immersed in such matters as the history of landscapes, the perils and pleasures of sailing, and assessments of authors (Raban’s book reviews are outstanding exercises in the genre)....A delight."
by Thomas Powers, The New York Review of Books,
"The central work of Raban's life might be described as an effort to determine what America is like....But along with that, the reader notes, big water draws from Raban a kind of genius for natural description."
by Phil Campbell, Columbia Journalism Review,
"Raban [here] showcases his craftsmanship as a writer and his bona fides as an intellectual. Every word is impeccably chosen, every metaphor meticulously selected....[His] virtues are a writer are virtually unrivaled when it comes to explaining our relationships with landscapes and nature, and he's unrivaled, period, when describing water in all its forms, be it a placid puddle or a storm-swirled sea."
by Deborah Gwartney, The Oregonian,
"Driving Home could easily have been titled The Jonathan Raban Reader, as the brisk, smartly crafted pieces are just that representative of [his] long and illustrative writing life....By combining them in one volume, Raban offers a lively stew of topics, themes that most interest the British citizen turned Seattleite, subjects that get him the most excited and riled....Readers have long been drawn to Raban for the elegance of his language and the eloquence of his thought and can expect to find the same in these essays."
by Dwight Garner, The New York Times,
"This Englishman in America is weird, unfettered, scruffy and alive....Mr. Raban's best writing, which is most of it, is succulent under a crusty exterior, like a fish baked in salt. His stuff is yet more proof that Britons are better travel writers and essayists than Americans: drier, funnier, more argumentative."
by The New York Times Book Review,
"Raban knows that the best essayist trusts in drift and digression and habitually adds a literary trill. He is an erudite but adaptable companion, tart and genial, promiscuous in experience yet reliable in temperament....He conjures with his new home, with the Pacific Northwest, with history, poetry, geography, catastrophe...subjects Raban circumnavigates with finesse, shrugging off the obvious and regularly landing us on a shore we can't quite glimpse from here."
by The Sunday Times,
"It takes a passionate history buff to note how many of America's virtues and vices have been present since independence and before, and a skilled raconteur to make us feel that passion."
by The Guardian,
"Teems with acerbic humor, but it contains, too, a wealth of astute cultural and historical observation of the Pacific Northwest [as well as] one of the finest examples of the reporting of a natural disaster ever published....Relentlessly intelligent....Erudite, witty, and combative."
by The Observer,
"Raban writes about water in the way that Barry Lopez writes about snow or Wilfred Thesiger wrote about sand: it's not always in the foreground of his observation, but you can sense his natural element in his whole way of seeing. Water seems to ebb and eddy through his prose, giving it its saltiness and flow."
by The Evening Standard,
"These essays [display] the full force of Raban's remarkable talent, infused with the profound intellectual ease and quiet authority that only a writer with as much steadying ballast of good work as Raban has could muster."
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