The Best American Travel Writing 2013 (Anglais) Broché – 8 octobre 2013
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Revue de presse
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love, 2006), guest editor of the latest volume in this always rich yearly anthology, boldly avers that she chose travel stories that “were told the most marvelously in 2012.” All the pieces included here are treasures of excellent writing, regardless of genre. – Booklist
The latest installment of the travel-writing series upholds the tradition of world-expanding excellence.The wonder continues in the fact that, regardless of subject, each story takes its place in the collection proudly and deservedly. – Kirkus
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You may think of writing that describes the setting foremost as travel writing (I did), but the pieces in this book focus on political and economic issues, too. In "The Year I Didn't," Daniel Tyx, describes what happens when a narrator does not in fact take the planned trip but only plans and thinks about it. Another "A Farewell to Yarns," by Ian Frazier focuses on exploring the contrast between traveling in the pre-digital age and the present. Do these really qualify as "travel writing"? They are certainly enjoyable, but your opinion may vary.
The pieces I personally enjoyed the most include:
"The Way I've Come," by Judy Copeland, a poignant account of being guided through New Guinea by five young girls, as she explores what has attracted her since childhood about being lost.
"The Paid Piper," Grant Stoddard's account of leading a group of strangers on a free sample tour through New York City.
"Dentists Without Borders," by David Sedaris, concerning his experiences with the France health care system. ("For my $50, I want to leave the doctor's office in tears, but instead I walk out feeling like a hypochondriac.")
"The Pippiest Place on Earth," by Sam Anderson about Dickens World, an actual theme park with a "Great Expectations" ride through a sewer.
For more sober, thoughtful fare, there's "Babu on the Bad Road," about an African who believes he dreamt the cure for AIDS, "The Wild Dogs of Istanbul," and "Dreaming of El Dorado," which is more investigative journalism on the staggering amount of child labor in Peru. Overall, I enjoyed reading this collection and as the editors hoped, I wasn't bored.
Gilbert's foreword explains her selection criteria for the collection. She automatically ruled out any article along the lines of "Things to do in London;" her definition of good travel writing is something that makes you feel less like you'd like to visit a place than like you already have. A good point.
The included selections are diverse. They cover destinations in multiple places in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as a small handful which are less about the place than the experience: an amusing reflection on the trials one fashion writer must endure to get her large wardrobe into the luggage space afforded a coach traveler, a New Yorker who discovers that examining a new side of one's home city can feel much like traveling to the other side of the world. This broad definition of travel is appropriate and mind-opening.
Of course, as with any anthology, but especially with one whose unifying topical theme is fairly loosely defined, the quality of selections varies. Some selections left me inspired, others interested, still others bored. I'd say most fell into the middle category, and the latter was mostly filled with very short pieces, which is a plus. Ordinarily I'd skip around something like this, picking the most intriguing titles from the Table of Contents (and in this case matching them up with the helpfully included thumbnail summaries in Gilbert's foreword); however, Gilbert spills a fair amount of ink describing why she organized the selections in the order she did, so I decided to read them in that order. I did reserve the right to skip ahead if a particular piece failed to grab my interest within a reasonable space, and in one or two cases I went back and gave those pieces a second chance after finishing the rest of the book (the perils of finishing a book when one has about forty minutes left on a ride and nothing else with which to pass the time). I did find myself wishing I'd stuck more strictly to Gilbert's sequence at that point; the final selection did such a good job wrapping up the collection that following it with something else really felt wrong, like stopping at a drive thru on the way home from a gourmet dinner.
As I said, much more good than bad here. Light reading, but of the best kind.
This I feel is also the theme in the stories that she choose for this years set of stories.
From the "Running of the Bulls in Pamplona" and giving a woman a true sense what testosterone feels like to a writer's story about not traveling and how his year panned out. You see in each the writer has discovered a new facet of themselves. There was the story of the hiker that went from seeing her guides as children and then learning to trust them with her life to the women who wandered through Cairo first dressed as Western women and enduring the harassment of the local men, to then doing so under cover of a niqab. They discovered there are two types of prisons.
Travel always opens our eyes and Elizabeth Gilbert has found a way in choosing these stories that it also can provide a mirror as well.