Cover image for The best American travel writing, 2003
The best American travel writing, 2003
Frazier, Ian.
Publication Information:
New York : Houghton Mifflin Co., [2003]

Physical Description:
xxii, 358 pages ; 21 cm.
Pope on a rope tow / Lisa Anne Auerbach -- The happiest man in Cuba / Rebecca Barry -- A cup of Cuban coffee / Stephen Benz -- Eternal Winter / Tom Bissell -- Stranger in the Dunes / Graham Brink -- The forest primeval / Peter Canby -- Over there / Scott Carrier -- The road from Abalak / Peter Chilson -- They shoot poachers, don't they? / Tom Clynes -- The despair of Art Deco / Geoff Dyer -- The respect of the men / Jack Handy -- The ballad of Route 66 / Christopher Hitchens -- Power trip / Emily Maloney -- Winter cruises under ten dollars / Bruce McCall -- What happened to Uncle Shmiel? / Daniel Mendelsohn -- Lost in the Arctic / Lawrence Milman -- Gettin' Jiggy / Steven Rinella -- Mungo made me do it / Kira Salak -- The devil and Ambrose Bierce / Jacob Silverstein -- My dinner in Kabul / Andrew Solomon -- I am fashion / Michael Specter -- Just one word: plastic / Hank Stuever -- Blood wood / Patrick Symmes -- Where the ghost bird sings / William T. Vollmann.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS648.T73 B48 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS648.T73 B48 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



More and more readers are discovering the pleasure of armchair travel through the hugely successful Best American Travel Writing, now in its fourth adventurous year. Journey through the 2003 volume from Route 66 to the Arctic; go deep into Poland's Tatra Mountains and through the wildest jungle in Congo. Selections this year are from equally far-flung sources, including Outside, Food & Wine, National Geographic Adventure, Potpourri, and The New Yorker.

Author Notes

JASON WILSON, series editor, is the author of Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits and the digital wine series Planet of the Grapes. He has written for the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Daily News, and many other publications. He is the founding editor of The Smart Set and Table Matters.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Travelers whose interest goes beyond the latest luxury hotel or high-end cruise line will adore this collection, since most of its essays concern unorthodox voyages. None come from travel magazines, although several were published by adventure magazines Outside and National Geographic Explorer. Guest editor Frazier's selections range from sidesplitting ("Pope on a Rope Tow" by Lisa Anne Auerbach, concerning John Paul II's Poland, published in Outside) to tragic (Tom Bissell's "Eternal Winter," about the death of the Aral Sea, printed in Harper's). The best pieces, such as Scott Carrier's "Over There" (also from Harper's), contain a good mixture of humor and misfortune. Some stories have precious little to do with travel, like Hank Stuever's excellent "Just One Word: Plastic," first printed in the Washington Post Magazine. Writing about the American relationship with credit-card debt, Stuever focuses on the town of Wilmington, Del., where he and millions of others send their interest payments every month. If there's a slant to the collection, it's environmental. Many of the pieces deal directly or tangentially with the degradation of a faraway ecosystem or the demise of a species on someone else's continent. As Frazier says in his introduction, he believes travel writing "is environmental by definition; the travel writer is unavoidably stuck with relating the sights and smells and general chaos he or she happens to find." The book's loose definition of the travel genre means it will appeal to any reader who enjoys high-quality nonfiction. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

This fourth entry in the excellent series benefits from guest editor Frazier's ( On the Rez, 1999) subversive definition of what constitutes travel writing. Here are blistering stories on slavery, environmental pollution, and privation. As Kira Salak says, in Mungo Made Me Do It, which describes her 600-mile harrowing kayak trip down the Niger River to Timbuktu, It is such a kind yet cruel world. Such a vulnerable world. I'm astounded by it all. And it is a cruel world Tom Bissell describes in Eternal Winter, about how the destruction of the Aral Sea has led to ecological catastrophe and a sickened population. Other pieces are lighter in tone. In I Am Fashion, Michael Specter gives us Sean Puff Daddy Combs in Paris. The rap impresario, while on trial for a shooting, spent his evenings sketching designs for clothing that would make him a major player in the fashion world. This is travel writing that not only presents bracing visions of far-flung places but also shows more familiar locations in a bizarre new light. --Joanne Wilkinson Copyright 2003 Booklist

Library Journal Review

For the latest entry in this best-of series, guest editor Frazier (On the Rez; Great Plains) selected 24 essays published last year in the likes of The New Yorker, the Washington Post Magazine, Harper's, and Potpourri. These made the final cut because they simply appealed to and interested Frazier. Ranging from the humorous to the alarming, the essays include a tale of being stranded in the Arctic with a broken outboard motor, a lighthearted journey down Route 66, a tour of a Japanese nuclear power plant, a search for the Pope's skiing past, and a woman's solo river trip to Timbuktu. Well written and varying in style, these pieces will find an audience with armchair travelers in larger public libraries.-Alison Hopkins, Brantford P.L., Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



IntroductionI travel for all the usual reasons - to see new places, meet new people, have exciting experiences, etc. Also, I travel just because I like to move. Motion simply for its own sake is often my goal. This is true not only when I travel but anytime. The other night as I was loading the dinner dishes into our freestanding, roll-around dishwasher, my sister-in-law, who was staying with us, observed me carrying each dish individually across the kitchen, and suggested I could save myself some steps by rolling the dishwasher closer to the sink. I told her that I didnt mind, that I was enjoying the walk. I was being kind of glib with her: I know this love of motion must be controlled. When Im doing research in a library, reading microfilmed newspapers on a microfilm-reading machine, I always have to restrain myself from zipping the whole roll back onto its spool at high-speed rewind, just for the thrill of it, before Im completely done. The whine of the spinning spool, the accelerating flicker of the speeding days, express my restless disorder perfectly. I attribute this disorder partly to my being from Ohio, and partly to my dad. 1. Ohio. When I was growing up there, Ohio seemed centrifugal. Some mystical force the place possessed flung people from it, often far. The northern part of the state was a corridor where westbound traf.c on the Ohio Turnpike picked up speed on its first real stretch of flat country past the Allegheny Mountains. When we slept with our windows open in the summers, the sound of accelerating traffic on the Turnpike a couple of farm fields away was with us morning and night. I remember Rose Rugan and Kim Gould, two girls I had crushes on, leaning on the railing of the Stow Road bridge over the Turnpike and watching the trucks and cars whoosh past beneath. As I rode by them on the bridge on my bicycle, they turned to look at me over their shoulders; for a moment, a huge concentration of hope and longing and possibility shivered through me invisibly. Not many years afterward I walked to that bridge carrying a small suitcase, hopped the fence, climbed down to the highway, stuck out my thumb, and disappeared, like the taillights of that famously fast local dragstrip racer whose racing name was Color Me Gone. Ohio seemed not somewhere to be, but somewhere to be from. We knew the Wright brothers, from Dayton, had learned to fly and had flown away, and John D. Rockefeller had departed with his Cleveland-made millions for New York City, and popular local TV personalities had vanished into vague careers in Hollywood, and most Cleveland Indian baseball players didnt get to be any good until they were traded to the Yankees. The high school kids our parents held up for emulation, the brains and athletes, went off to distant colleges and never returned, while everybodys grandparents decamped to Ohioan-filled retirement communities in Florida or Arizona. When we were still in elementary school, some of our Excerpted from The Best American Travel Writing 2003 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

Ian FrazierLisa Anne AuerbachRebecca BarryStephen BenzTom BissellGraham BrinkPeter CanbyScott CarrierPeter ChilsonTom ClynesGeoff DyerJack HandeyChristopher HitchensEmily MaloneyBruce McCallDaniel MendelsohnLawrence MillmanSteven RinellaKira SalakJacob SilversteinAndrew SolomonMichael SpecterHank StueverPatrick SymmesWilliam T. Vollmann
Forewordp. xi
Introductionp. xv
Pope on a Rope Tow (from Outside)p. 1
The Happiest Man in Cuba (from The Washington Post Magazine)p. 8
A Cup of Cuban Coffee (from Potpourri)p. 20
Eternal Winter (from Harper's Magazine)p. 31
Stranger in the Dunes (from The St. Petersburg Times)p. 59
The Forest Primeval (from Harper's Magazine)p. 67
Over There (from Harper's Magazine)p. 95
The Road from Abalak (from The American Scholar)p. 121
They Shoot Poachers, Don't They? (from national Geographic Adventure)p. 135
The Despair of Art Deco (from The Threepenny Review)p. 157
The Respect of the Men (from Outside)p. 166
The Ballad of Route 66 (from Vanity Fair)p. 169
Power Trip (from World Hum)p. 193
Winter Cruises Under Ten Dollars (from The New Yorker)p. 197
What Happened to Uncle Shmiel? (from The New York Times Magazine)p. 199
Lost in the Arctic (from National Geographic Adventure)p. 218
Gettin' Jiggy (from Outside)p. 229
Mungo Made Me Do It (from National Geographic Adventure)p. 236
The Devil and Ambrose Bierce (from Harper's Magazine)p. 255
My Dinner in Kabul (from Food & Wine)p. 272
I Am Fashion (from The New Yorker)p. 276
Just One Word: Plastic (from The Washington Post Magazine)p. 297
Blood Wood (from Outside)p. 314
Where the Ghost Bird Sings by the Poison Springs (from Outside)p. 331
Contributors' Notesp. 351
Notable Travel Writing of 2002p. 355