Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Remember when I wrote about my summer read-a-thon? I'm well underway, and all I have to say is read this book: Eat, Pray, Love.

I'm in love with Elizabeth Gilbert. If she was here, I would hug her and make her a mug of tea or a shot of bourbon and we would sit on the porch and talk about Italy. I know that this book is also about Indonesia and India, but I'm only in the Italy part and already I'm wondering how many times I can reread this book without it getting creepy. And I'm only on page, like, 120.

I am in awe, too, because I think travel writing is insanely hard. To me. You have all these competing tasks: Tell the reader about the place you are -- what you're seeing, doing, etc. that others might like to see, do, etc. -- while also delving into the inner workings of that place. What's going on there? What are people doing, saying, feeling? What is that place about? Then, you have to show some inner awareness, some vulnerability, some tension, something that makes me want to keep reading your story, otherwise you just seem like a privileged wiseass who gets to go to all the most beautiful places in the world and rub it in the faces of people who are stuck at desks, behind brooms or some such drudgery in comparison to gazing at the Taj Mahal at sunset.

And, really, isn't that most of us?

What I'm definitely not interested in is this stop-by-stop listmaking diary entries. *Went to X. Ate Y. It was good. Next time, try ABC.* Not to point fingers here (because here I am having written close to nothing about my traveling), but I picked up Frances Mayes' book, "A Year In The World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveler," because I'm a sucker for an interesting title. But, boy oh boy, did I have to skip about half that book. If you asked me where she went, I couldn't really tell you. (Though I could say that not having good places to stay is a Big Deal--better have some quiet and a garden to wander around.) The food discussions were the most interesting, if that tells you anything. (And I haven't read anything else by her, so this is no reflection on her entire body of work. And, to be fair, I haven't read anything else by Elizabeth Gilbert, either.)

Anyway, back to EPL. Literally. I must get off here and go read. Have you read it? And what other books about traveling do you recommend?


Whit & Lindsay said...

Angie! Too weird. This is my book club book for the month. I'm planning on reading it on my way to SK. Can't wait to see you Thursday!

Whit & Lindsay said...

OK, Lindsay here again. I'm sorry, I commented before I read the whole blog and now want to recommend a good travel book for you: "A Woman Alone." It is travel tales from around the globe by women travelers. Loved it. I'll stop commenting now and get back to my job, which I still have until Thursday and should probably act like it.

Angie said...

Lindsay, thanks for the recommendation! I'll find it and read it, hopefully on my way to visit you in South Korea!