Cover image for A way to see the world : from Texas to Transylvania with a maverick traveler
A way to see the world : from Texas to Transylvania with a maverick traveler
Swick, Thomas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Guilford, Conn. : Lyons Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xi, 388 pages ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS648.T73 S85 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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As a travel editor, Swick leaves his home in South Florida every few months and goes on a trip. His job enables him to see the world. And he brings to it a curiosity, a sense of humor, and an affection for the under-appreciated that give him a unique way of looking at that world. His ability to connect with people means that his journeys are often as emotional as they are educational.
The stories collected here take readers to a hobo convention in Iowa, Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama; the last leg of the Oregon Trail; a tennis tournament in Miami; and one of the final baseball games played at Chicago's old Comiskey Park. Keeping with the theme of unsung places, Swick writes about Columbus, Ohio (where he searches for the spirit of James Thurber); Normandy, France; Archer City, Texas, Transylvania, Turkey, Trinidad, Vietnam, and Croatia. In addition, there are stories with more familiar subjects, such as a cultural exchange to Cuba, a Caribbean cruse and the childhood journeys that put him on the road to becoming a travel writer. Covering a wide range of diverse cultures - half the stories are set in the U.S. , half abroad - the book also examines the meaning of travel, and celebrates its beauty at a time when many are questioning its importance.

Author Notes

Thomas Swick worked as a seller of baked goods in England, a farm hand in France, and an English teacher in Greece and Poland, as well as a journalist, before becoming the travel editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He married his wife, Hania, in Warsaw, where he spent two years teaching and freelance writing. His work has appeared in The American Scholar, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times Book Review as well as other national publications

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

As travel editor for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Swick travels all over the world, writes about it and sees the proof of his journeys in the Sunday papers. Although his job could easily spark considerable envy among readers, the author possesses a healthy sense of proportion when talking about his profession: "[Travel editors] lack seriousness of purpose and, in a chronically superficial profession, depth. In a dilettante's game, we are the ultimate gadabouts." Swick proceeds to take them around the world to countries and cities that he has no good reason to visit and no overarching thesis to prove or disprove-he just wants to go. He traipses from Columbus, Ohio, to Normandy, France, and on to Szeged, Hungary. His chapter on Vietnam doesn't begin with any assumptions, except a desire to hang out and do what travel writers do: meet people, see the sights and spend time in cafes chatting with locals. Similarly fascinating are his trips to Turkey, which seems at once friendlier and more terrifying than it should, and Minnesota, where Swick conducts a few sharp interviews with the state's battling giants: Gov. Jesse Ventura and Garrison Keillor. Swick is an enjoyable companion: knowledgeable but not too wordy, a fellow who knows when to describe the passing countryside and when to let the people who actually live there just talk. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Swick, the globe-trotting travel editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, has assembled a collection of essays that are astute, slyly humorous, informative, and unabashedly literary. In wonderfully evocative reportage, he relives New Yorker correspondent A.J. Liebling's D-day reminiscences at Sainte-Mere-Eglise (Normandy), where parachutist John Steele tragically caught himself around a church steeple, and tours Nabokov's and Brodsky's St. Petersburg, Naipaul's Port-of-Spain (Trinidad), and Thurber's Columbus, OH. His American sojourns include a zany Mardi Gras in Mobile, AL; an enjoyable but melancholy final ball game in Chicago's superannuated Comisky Park; a nostalgic drive along the Oregon Trail; interviews in Minneapolis-St. Paul with a dour Garrison Keillor and a brusque Jesse Ventura; and a cancelled interview with an elusive, grumpy Larry McMurtry in Archer City, TX. An ocean away, Swick finds Saigon, Danang, and Hue (Vietnam) gloomy and depressing, while Turkey is a revelation and its people unselfconsciously gracious. Readers will be pleasantly transported by this bookish, culturally responsive traveling companion. Recommended for all libraries.-Lonnie Weatherby, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Excerpt from pg. 83: The place seems too drawly to be the Sunshine State, but too liquidy to be the South. Even before you cross the Suwannee River you see the boiled P-Nut vendors, the American-made pick-up trucks, the houses not much bigger than the motorboats parked in their yards, the signs pointing the way to "Rabbits and Cane Juice." In your future are places with names like Panacea, Niceville, Sopchoppy. As darkness descends, the pairs of orange road reflectors, coming up one after the other, resemble an unbroken line of alligator eyes. Long past the river I felt the presence of water somewhere off to my left. Panacea looked the exact opposite of curatice (i.e., dead), so I pushed on, stopping for dinner at a place down the road called Angelo's. It sat at the edge of a dark body of water. Inside, I found fat-bottomed waitresses, all of them squeezed into identical khaki shorts. They were better advertisements for the house cuisine than the culinary awards posted by the cash register. I ordered broiled red snapper and cheese grits and received not one but two large fishes on a plate garnished with hush puppies and a small plastic cup of garlic butter for dipping. The sauce gave to the fish, like the cheese to the grits, a novel and indescribable richness. I knew as soon as I'd finished that I'd have no trouble making the fifty miles to Apalachicola. An hour later, rolling into town off the Apalachicola Bay Bridge, my car became the one moving object in a world of perfect stillness. Excerpted from A Way to See the World: From Texas to Transylvania with a Maverick Traveler by Thomas Swick All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: Back Roadsp. 1
Part 1 What in the World Is So Great About Travel?
1 The Longest Dayp. 35
2 Women on a Trainp. 45
3 Man's Destinyp. 53
Part 2 Crashing the Sesquicentennial
4 Love on the Keyp. 75
5 Into the Panhandlep. 83
Part 3 Helpful Advice for the Bookish Traveler
6 City of Writersp. 99
7 Thurber Countryp. 109
8 Cows in Normandyp. 117
9 A Sentimental Journeyp. 129
10 Calypso Carnivalp. 153
11 Town of Lettersp. 163
Part 4 Rio, Meet Waterloo; Where is My America?
12 On the Trailp. 187
13 Mother of Mysticsp. 203
14 The Last Summerp. 213
15 Fields of Cornp. 219
16 The Cultural Desertp. 233
17 Minnesota Twinsp. 241
Part 5 Nothing to Declare but My Wonderment
18 Cartoon Dinerp. 259
19 "I Must Upgrade My Husband"p. 265
20 Croatian Rockp. 271
21 Spoken to the Heartp. 303
22 Tourists and Guestsp. 323
23 Our Gang in Havanap. 361