Book Review: The Best American Travel Writing 2009 by Simon Winchester

Book Review: The Best American Travel Writing 2009 by Simon Winchester

The Best American Travel Writing 2009The Best American Travel Writing 2009 by Simon Winchester

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I teetered between giving this book three or four stars. I gave it four stars beause it’s an anthology, and, as such, it’s going to be a mixed bag for all readers that will appeal and disappoint depending on what essay you’re reading and your individual taste. Go into this book knowing you’ll love some essays and hate others.

There are three essays in particular that caught my attention, for different reasons:

1. “Game Over, Perseverance, All I Want Is Everything,” by Dimiter Kenarov. Writing about the Roma in Bulgaria, Kenarov’s descriptions of this subculture’s poor living conditions left me wanting to know more. Unfortunately, the end of the essay fell flat and didn’t do the rest of his piece justice. The last few sentences make me think Kenarov was fast approaching his deadline and just needed something, anything, even a cliché, to end his essay.

2. “The Cabin of My Dreams,” by Patrick Symmes. Oddly enough, I just happened to read this essay while vacationing in a cabin near Yosemite, the same one that began my dream to live simply in a (somewhat) remote cabin nearly 6 years ago. The difference between Symmes’ cabin dreams and my own is that I don’t want to build mine with my own hands, and his essay reaffirms this for me.

3. “A Tale of Two Crossings,” by Mark Schatzker. Good travel writing, at least in my mind, fits into two categories: that which brings about social and political awareness; and that which inspires others to visit the place they’re reading about. I find the former to be necessary and important; but I find the latter the most exciting to read. “A Tale of Two Crossings” was my favorite piece from this book, prompting me to quickly, and quite literally, add “take transoceanic trip on an ocean liner” to my list of things to do.

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