Monday, June 16, 2014

The Best American Travel Writing 2013 Edited by Elizabeth Gilbert

22. The Best American Travel Writing 2013 Edited by Elizabeth Gilbert

Travel and short stories make a marvelous combination in my book, and so when I found out that Elizabeth Gilbert had edited a compilation of travel short stories, it seemed like a magical combination. In her thoughtful introduction, Gilbert promises "you will not be bored"-and I was not disappointed.

Every single one of these stories is unique and meaningful. I liked some better than others, but I did not skip or skim a single one. For example, bull-running and rooster-eyeball-licking are not really elements I look for in my stories, but I can think of quite a few students who'd get a kick out of it. The story that appealed most to me included "Blot Out" by Colleen Kinder about what it's really like to wear a niqab, a full head and body covering with a grille for eyes to see through. When one of the characters says "the best part was looking strangers square in the eye," I had a glimmer of recognition. It's like staring from behind the safety of sunglasses. Clothing as social shield. My second favorite was a tale of Bedouin kidnappers who characterize their crime as a "free safari." And the best part of all? I could tell you the plot of every story, and each would still be worth reading. The value is in the perspective, the turns of phrase. And to my mind, that's what good writing, good stories are all about.

Entertainment with a global perspective. Now go read these stories. Go on. Now.
(Especially recommended for reading on airplanes, at the beach, or on the bus).

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