Tag Archives: travel writing

Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Life in Contemporary Palestine

Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Life in Contemporary Palestine by Marcello Di Cintio

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A look at life in contemporary Palestine through the lens of its literary culture

Marcello Di Cintio first visited Palestine in 1999, and as with most outsiders, the narrative he knew was one defined by unending struggle, a near-Sisyphean curse of stories of oppression, exile, and occupation.

In Pay No Heed to the Rockets, he reveals a more complex story—the Palestinian experience as seen through the lens of authors, books, and literature. Using the form of a political-literary travelogue, he explores what literature means to modern Palestinians and how Palestinians make sense of the conflict between a rich imaginative life and the daily tedium and violence of survival. Taking the long route through the West Bank, into Jerusalem, across Israel, and finally into Gaza, he meets with poets, authors, librarians, and booksellers to learn about Palestine through their eyes, and through the story of their stories.

Di Cintio travels through the rich cultural and literary heritage of Palestine. It’s there that he uncovers a humanity, and a beauty, often unnoticed by news media. At the seventieth anniversary of the Arab-Israeli War, Pay No Heed to the Rockets tells a fresh story about Palestine, one that begins with art rather than war.

About the Author

MARCELLO DI CINTIO is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, winner of the 2013 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. Di Cintio’s essays have been published in The WalrusCanadian GeographicThe New York TimesCondé Nast Traveller, and Afar. He lives in Calgary.

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Spirit of Place: Letters and Essays on Travel

Spirt of PlaceSpirit of Place: Letters and Essays on Travel by Lawrence Durrell

The definitive collection of travel writings by one of the twentieth century’s best-loved journeyers

From the moment of his birth, Lawrence Durrell was far from home. A British child in India, he was sent to England to receive an education, and by his early twenties had already tired of his native land. With family in tow, he departed for Greece, and spent the rest of his life wandering the world. He traveled not to sightsee but to live, and made homes in Egypt, France, Yugoslavia, and Argentina. Each time he landed, he rooted himself deep into the native soil, taking in not just the sights and sounds of his new land, but the essential character of the country. In these letters and essays, Durrell exhibits the power of poetic observation that made his travel writing so extraordinary to post–World War II readers. In these pages he reminds us not just of each country’s hidden charms, but of the unique characteristics that persist through the generations.

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The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari

The Last Train to Zona VerdeThe Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux

A decade ago, Paul Theroux s best-selling “Dark Star Safari” chronicled his epic overland voyage from Cairo to Cape Town, providing an insider s look at modern Africa. Now, with “The Last Train to Zona Verde,” he returns to discover how both he and Africa have changed in the ensuing years.
Traveling alone, Theroux sets out from Cape Town, going north through South Africa, Namibia, then into Angola, encountering a world increasingly removed from tourists itineraries and the hopes of postcolonial independence movements. After covering nearly 2,500 arduous miles, he cuts short his journey, a decision he chronicles with unsparing honesty in a chapter titled What Am I Doing Here? Vivid, witty, and beautifully evocative, ” The Last Train to Zona Verde” is a fitting final African adventure from the writer whose gimlet eye and effortless prose have brought the world to generations of readers.
“Everything is under scrutiny in Paul Theroux s latest travel book not just the people, landscapes and sociopolitical realities of the countries he visits, but his own motivations for going where he goes . . . His readers can only be grateful.” “Seattle Times”
If this book is proof, age has not slowed Theroux or encouraged him to rest on his achievements . . . Gutsy, alert to Africa’s struggles, its injustices and history. “San Francisco Chronicle””

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Wild Yosemite: 25 Tales of Adventure, Nature, and Exploration edited by Susan Neider

Wild YosemiteWild Yosemite edited by Susan Neider

An ideal gift for lovers of nature.
This beautiful literary collection explores the spectacular natural features of Yosemite through the eyes of some of America s most notable and extraordinarily talented writers. In 1851, Lafayette Bunnell chronicled his travels with the Mariposa Battalion, the first non-natives to visit Yosemite Valley. Following in his footsteps, Theodore Roosevelt, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Clarence King, Frederick Law Olmsted, Joaquin Miller, and Horace Greeley made their pilgrimages and were moved to recount their observations.
Included here as well is the work of John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, whose love for Yosemite led to the establishment of Yosemite National Park in 1890. This lyrical book is a literary tribute to Yosemite s gorgeous landscape. A great companion for those who love to travel and revel in the unique natural beauty of the great American West, “Wild Yosemite” will transport you in spirit to the heart of the Sierra Nevadas, where you ll experience the canyons, the cliffs, the pines, the mountain air, and the panoramic grandeur of Yosemite National Park.

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Reclaiming Travel By Ilan Stavans & Joshua Ellison

Reclaiming TravelReclaiming Travel By Ilan Stavans & Joshua Ellison

Based on a controversial opinion piece originally published in the “New York Times,” “Reclaiming Travel” is a provocative meditation on the meaning of travel from ancient times to the twenty-first century. Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison seek to understand why we travel and what has come to be missing from our contemporary understanding of travel. Engaging with canonical and contemporary texts, they explore the differences between travel and tourism, the relationship between travel and memory, the genre of travel writing, and the power of mapmaking, Stavans and Ellison call for a rethinking of the art of travel, which they define as a transformative quest that gives us deeper access to ourselves.
Tourism, Stavans and Ellison argue, is inauthentic, choreographed, sterile, shallow, and rooted in colonialism. They critique theme parks and kitsch tourism, such as the shantytown hotels in South Africa where guests stay in shacks made of corrugated metal and cardboard yet have plenty of food, water and space. Tourists, they assert, are merely content with escapism, thrill seeking, or obsessively snapping photographs. Resisting simple moralizing, the authors also remind us that people don’t divide neatly into crude categories like travelers and tourists. They provoke us to reflect on the opportunities and perils in our own habits.
In this powerful manifesto, Stavans and Ellison argue that travel should be an art through which our restlessness finds expression–a search for meaning not only in our own lives but also in the lives of others. It is not about the destination; rather, travel is about loss, disorientation, and discovering our place in the universe.

Read the Article in the New York Times that inspired the book.

New York Times