Best American Travel Writing, 2003

by ExperiencePlus! - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Best American Travel Writing, 2003

My favorite collection of travel essays is now available in the 2003 edition. The volume collects the best essays published in 2002 in fourteen different US publications. The winner this year for number of essays selected is Outside Magazine with five essays. Harper’s Magazine follows with four essays and National Geographic Adventure with three. I first reviewed this collection of essays a year ago in October 2002. You can read that review here.


The Best American Travel Writing 2003

As a geographer, what I enjoy most about this collection is their portrayal of "place." Indeed, geography is about places, people, and environments and what makes places different, one from the other. Have you ever thought about where your credit card comes from, for example? What kind of a "place" is it? Well, what do you know about Wilmington, Delaware? More than likely you have at least one credit card issued and serviced by a bank or service department in Wilmington. Hank Stuever, writing in the Washington Post Magazine in June of ’02, writes about one word: "plastic," borrowing the famous line from the movie, The Graduate. By the end, it’s a great portrait of an otherwise unglamorous city (As my professor Clyde Patton once said, "there’s no such thing as uninteresting places, just uninquisitive geographers!")

The other great thing about this collection is that it ranges broadly from Wilmington to West Texas (Jacob Silverstein’s "The Devil and Ambrose Bierce," from Harper’s). To Kabul (Andrew Solomon on "My Dinner in Kabul," from Food & Wine) and the Arctic ("Lost in the Arctic" by Lawrence Millman in National Geographic Adventure) and on to Niger in West Africa (Peter Chilson’s "The Road from Abalak" from The American Scholar).

I think you’ll enjoy this collection for your winter reading. And in the end, as T. S. Eliot has so aptly pointed out,

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.


(No. 4 of ‘Four Quartets’)