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How To Add Fascination To Your Summer: 4 Travel-Inspired New Books - http://travelporn.info | luxury travel sites

April 23, 2018 5:45 pm
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Photo credit: © Laura Manske

This summer, whether you are an armchair traveler, USA road tripper or global trekker, these 4 new page-turners feed wanderlust: exploring eye-opening destinations, probing on-the-go personalities and savoring foodie finds. Knock your sandals off and curl up with these wayfarer wonders:

FIGURES IN A LANDSCAPE: PEOPLE AND PLACES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Paul Theroux  Deep dive into this distinctive collection of detail-rich essays and articles, originally published over a 15-year stretch in such journalism-bountiful havens as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Men’s Journal, Departures, Smithsonian, Granta and Harper’s Bazaar. Inimitable travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux elegantly weaves his illuminating, opinion-layered thoughts around and through the tapestry-tangled lives of profiled notables, among them Robin Williams (with whom Theroux strolled Manhattan sidewalks), Elizabeth Taylor (with whom, in a helicopter, he soared over California) and Paul Bowles (author of The Sheltering Sky, with whom he conversed at a chilly apartment on a back street in Tangier, Morocco). Theroux also verbally volleyed with an endearingly responsive Michael Jackson about the dizzying demands of his showbiz childhood and the importance of Neverland. In the chapter “Nurse Wolf, The Hurter” — an astonishing (and at times unsettling) piece about a NYC dominatrix — Theroux whips out startling S&M descriptions. As fine-tuned as his insightful look-sees at famous celebs and distinguished bigwigs are, my favorite passages spotlight Theroux himself, as in the chapter about getting to know renowned neurologist and best-selling author Dr. Oliver Sacks, who tells Theroux about his experience in Jellyfish Lake, on one of the Rock Islands of Palau in the Pacific Ocean. Theroux reveals that he, too, had swum there, where “…the water was thick and yellowish, a stew of jellyfish, some like parasols and some like nightcaps. They had no sting, but they bulged with gelatinous ectoplasm and filled the small volcanic pool. My whole body was pressed at each stroke by the strongest wobble of slime, my fingers tangling in their greenish masses of tentacles. I did it on a dare and was glad finally to pull myself out of the water. Oliver said there was nothing he relished more than the thought of spending a whole day swimming among the millions of jellyfish.” Memorable, indeed. Angling for the amazing afar is one of Theroux’s raisons d’être. It has kept his experiential travel writing on the top-tier map with books such as The Great Railway Bazaar (launching a momentous train journey from London to Japan), The Old Patagonian Express (adventuring again via railway from Boston to Argentina), The Happy Isles of Oceania (kayaking in the South Pacific), Dark Star Safari (traveling from Cairo to Cape Town across Africa), Riding the Iron Rooster (delving into China) and Deep South (driving road trips through the southern USA) — these just the tip of his mountainous literary output. In Figures in a Landscape, Theroux zeroes in on lauded travel-writing novelists as well, among them Joseph Conrad and W. Somerset Maugham; then he unfurls the highs and lows of their work like a proficient sailor, climbing a mast to catch wind in bi-level sails of a ship. He tackles his own family dramas too: his enigmatic, knotty, convoluted father — whom he loved and who loved him, yet who did not read anything that Paul ever wrote or, if he had, never remarked about it; his demanding, thin-skinned mother; his unexpected fatherhood at age 19 — how he and his girlfriend fled to Puerto Rico, after which returning to Boston she lived in an unwed mother home, delivering a son who was given up for adoption. Theroux also flings the attention of readers to far-flung horizons in Egypt, Ecuador, Scotland, South Africa and Zimbabwe (for starters) as deftly and readily as he swings readers’ focus into the heart of Hawaii and Cape Cod, where Medford, Massachusetts-born Theroux now lives, splitting each year approximately in half. In this ambitious anthology of worldwide landscapes — a drug tour in the Amazon; an exploitation-corruption scenario witnessed when he served in the Peace Corps in what is now Malawi, Africa; a touching revisit to Vietnam, where “I went back to the city of Hue and saw that there can be life, even happiness, after war, and, almost unimaginably, there can be forgiveness” — Theroux’s observations are so keen and writerly skills so sharp that he butter-slices narratives with a razor-thin surgeon’s scalpel, masterfully serving up both the world’s dark underbelly and its gloriously uplifting sustenance of love, longing and wonder-lust. 

EATING WITH PETER: A GASTRONOMIC JOURNEY (Arcade Publishing) by Susan Buckley  Who hasn’t fantasized about experiencing a life-changing rapture — swept up by affectionate embraces, surrounded by tempting treasures and tasty pleasures? For author Susan Buckley — who grew up in Louisiana, became bewitched while young by the possibilities of travel and moved to Manhattan as a budding editor at a book publishing company — meeting Peter Buckley was a pivotal fork in her road. He was gregarious, a globe-gallivanting gourmand, wine connoisseur, innovative chef, accomplished writer and photographer, friend of Ernest Hemingway and 15 years her senior. They first became friends when she edited one of his books. But there were complications. In the meantime, she was dazzled by the Big Apple and Paris — and like all newbies to major cultural meccas, learned surprising lessons, some hilarious. It took years until Peter was able to snuggle into her private life, tugging at her comfort zone, wooing her, fusing their futures. Being married to Peter Buckley (who died in 1997) for 25 years was not always easy, as she explains in this book. It is clear that she abundantly cherished him, yet she also clear-eyed describes him as sweet but impossible, lovable but outrageous: “…Peter handed me a perfect conch shell. ‘Tip it,’ he said. And out of its luminescent pink sliver shimmered the most beautiful gold chain I had ever beheld. As it fell into my hand like golden rain, Peter asked me to marry him. And I said yes. I knew even then that I was accepting a complex man whom many found overbearing, whom some people adored and some avoided. But I also knew that I would never be bored, that I could share my life with someone who always made me laugh, who loved to read as much as I did and who would show me the world.” That he did. Together the Buckleys traveled to France, Morocco, the Red Sea, the Caribbean and other exotic ports and porticos. They devoured morsels inside souks, farmhouses, Michelin-starred restaurants galore; witnessed bull fights in Seville, Spain; drank steaming mint tea in a Berber tent perched on the edge of the Sahara Desert; mused with a cheesemonger about his hundreds of huge Parmesan wheels at a rural white-washed building near Modena, Italy; feasted upon hand-caught and -cooked sea urchins in British Honduras (now Belize); and meandered a gargantuan outdoor market in Onitsha, Nigeria, where the female vendors — eyeing the tall white man sauntering by (a rarity in 1960) — exclaimed to each other that “God must be great to make such a man!” Writes Susan: “Truly, it was the high point of what would be decades of market strolls. He never got over it.” She has in more recent years authored many children’s and young adult books; this is her first adult work. It celebrates the twosome’s good times, the heady top notes of a shared life quenched fully. Sprinkled throughout, there are 28 family recipes, such as Chicken Yes Yes Yes Dear, Transcendental Beans, Raw Mushrooms Soup, Mary Hemingway’s Seviche and Braised Endive. Get ready to eat, read and be merry.

AMERICA’S GREAT RIVER JOURNEYS: 50 CANOE, KAYAK AND RAFT ADVENTURES (Rizzoli USA) by Tim Palmer  This hefty, gorgeous tome by Tim Palmer, an ace photographer and author of 26 books, will make you yearn for the wild blue yonder. He enthusiastically and expertly encourages readers to exult in the USA’s 7,000 miles of free-flowing waterways in 28 states — following the finest routes in ten regions: New England, Appalachian Mountains, Deep South, Midwest, Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, California, Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Palmer’s words steer readers in soul-soothing directions: “Drifting with the current draws us into the unknown — a beautiful unknown. Both the serenity of mirroring pools and the rush of explosive rapids stir the body, the psyche and the spirit. Part of the fascination with river trips comes simply from the joy that they offer to all. And it’s not just about us. Rivers are home to fish and wildlife, and in traveling on these waterways we can see how important and fruitful they are. Rivers are animated blue-green ribbons of life that intertwine whole landscapes, regions and states. Rivers cool us on hot days, take us to enchanting places and in quiet moments instill or stir thoughts that probe to the core of vital experiences, meanings and mysteries.” Each waterway gets its own salute. About the Colorado River, Palmer pens: “The very name…evokes a sense of myth, powerful whitewater and a sweep of dramatic landforms from glaciated summits at the Continental Divide to the grandest of desert canyons. Epic, intriguing, forbidding — all describe the path this artery takes as one of the ten major rivers radiating from the high country soul of the West, and none compares to this river in its journey from Rocky Mountain peaks to Great Basin Desert, from cliffhanger trails to interstate highways, and from hardscrabble towns of oil boom-and-bust to trendy destinations for leisure.” The book is inspirational, enlightening and bolstered by practical know-how: tips about trip lengths, whitewater challenges, permit requirements, camping sites and outfitters. With an intro by Richard Bangs, founder of Sobek Expeditions (the first multi-national river-running company and pioneering outfitter for worldwide active wilderness travel), America’s Great River Journeys is an adventure in itself and a praise for American Rivers, an organization that helps protect wild waterways, renews damaged streams and preserves clean water and nature. Where’s your paddle?

THE LANDSCAPES OF ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (Timber Press) by Catherine Reid  Crescent-shape, 139-mile-long Prince Edward Island, off the northeast coast of Canada, cradled in briskly blue waters between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, harbors rocky shores and long cashmere-soft sand beaches, well-tended summer floral gardens as well as fields of windswept wildflowers, undulating hills and picturesque family farms, which inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery, who grew up there, to write Anne of Greene Gables, the story of Anne Shirley — a red-haired, inquisitive, 11-year-old orphan sent to live with her middle-aged brother. Since its publication in 1908, the book has sold more than 50-million copies and has been translated into 20 languages. PEI (the island’s oft-used acronym) is a charming, transformative getaway (make one visit and you, like me, will hold it dear), peopled by friendly, artistic and hardy residents — with a thriving theater-and-arts community, plus superb restaurants. PEI celebrates Montgomery’s writerly achievements (20 novels, more than 500 short stories, hundreds of poems, plus essays aplenty) at the Green Gables House, a cornerstone of PEI’s multi-million-dollar annual tourism draw. Whether you read the Anne saga growing up (particularly popular with young girls) or are brainstorming now for a summer vacation jewel, this new The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables is certain to delight. Author Catherine Reid exuberantly jumped into Montgomery’s archives — her journals, scrapbooks, photographs — to create this lush tribute to Montgomery, Green Gables and PEI. It is graced with positive quotes, poems and anecdotes; festooned with fascinating history; dressed in scores of images from yesteryear and today. Writes Reid: “It’s when [Montgomery] turns her attention to the surrounding land that the reader can feel her changing gears to one that evokes far more passion. In that shift of her gaze to the outdoors, the ordinary falls away, and the following sentences soar with aesthetic power. The subtle hues in a sunset, the changing colors of autumn, the winter scenes from a horse-drawn sleigh — all reverberate with new meaning.” Yes, true. But Reid herself deserves ample applause for this wet-kiss, well-crafted ode to all that makes Prince Edward Island and its most esteemed native resonate with readers and visitors. Oh, Canada!