My present journey includes seeking a print publisher for the Nomadic Spirit .
The proposed book, Movement: Seeking Perfect Lines, is
a high-octane illustrated travelogue comprising the best photographs
and text from this Nomadic Spirit .
As on any quest, it's important to know the terrain before setting
out; I thought you all might enjoy browsing my research shelves.
Gods of Travel Writing
- I first encountered Chatwin while at Uluru, in Australia.
Songlines represents exactly what I seek in both travel
and reading material: insight-driven experiences that are, thought-provoking
and completely unexpected. The quote from Blaise Pascal at the
bottom of every Nomadic Spirit page came from What
Am I Doing Here?, perhaps the book that best describes
Chatwin while he's busily attempting to describe everything he
encounters, while attempting to understand the drive to travel-thus
the drive to understand-itself.
"In theory, at least, the whole of Australia could be read
as a musical score. There was hardly a rock or creek in the country
that could not or had not been sung. One should perhaps visualize
the Songlines as a spaghetti of Iliads and Odysseys, writhing
this way and that, in which every 'episode' was readable in terms
of geology. " - Bruce Chatwin,
- Cahill blends travel and adventure in the outdoors with a unique
odd-ball, laugh-riot humour. With titles like Pecked
to Death by Ducks and Pass
the Butterworms: Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered, who
would ever guess? On the other hand, his next book, Hold
the Enlightenment: More Travel, Less Bliss, takes a shot
at a subject nearer and dearer. So long as it's funny, I'll forgive
him. I haven't found (or written) anything that sums Cahill up
better than Amazon's own review of Road
Fever: A High-Speed Travelogue:
"If you define 'adventure travel' as anything that's more
fun to read about than to live through, then Tim Cahill's Road
Fever is the adventure of a lifetime. Along with professional
long-distance driver Garry Sowerby, Cahill drove 15,000 miles
from the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego to the northernmost
terminus of the Dalton Highway in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, from one
end of the world to another, in a record-breaking 23 1/2 days.
Just like the authors' camper-shelled GMC Sierra truck, the narrative
bounces along at a relentless pace. Along the way Cahill and Sowerby
cope with mood swings, engine trouble, Andean cliffs, obstinate
bureaucracies, slick highways, armed and uncomprehending soldiery
(not to mention the challenges of securing O.P.M., or Other People's
Money--the sine qua non of adventure, Cahill observes). Author
of such off-the-wall travelogues as Pass the Butterworms and Jaguars
Ripped My Flesh , Cahill is equipped with the correct amalgam
of chutzpah and dementia to survive what can only be called 'The
Road Trip From Hell.' Readers, however, will thoroughly enjoy
- His idea of a journey is nearly at complete odds with my own,
and yet he makes my gut wrench so hard from laughing I can't put
the man down. Bryson is a dodderer, a solitary fellow who considers
a day of travelling perfect if he can manage-sometime between
an icy lager at the pub and a tasty dinner at the quaint inn with
the prescient staff-to find the house that some obscure historical
figure took tea in. Of course, and fortunately for us, Bryson
apparently experiences very few such perfect days. He also has
a rather peevish habit of saying just what he thinks. An example
a Sunburned Country:
"The fact is, of course, we pay shamefully scant attention
to our dear cousins Down Under-not entirely without reason, of
course. Australia is after all mostly empty and a long way away.
Its population, just over 18 million, is small by world standards-China
grows by a larger amount each year-and its place in teh world
economy is consequently peripheral; as an economic entity, it
ranks about level with Illinois. Its sports are of little interest
tous and the last television series it made that we watched with
avidity was Skippy, From time to time it sends us useful
things-opals, merino wool, Errol Flynn, the boomerang-but nothing
we can't actually do without. Above all, Australia doesn't misbehave.
It is stable and peaceful and good. It doesn't have coups, recklessly
overfish, arm disagreeable despots, grow coca in provocative quantities,
or throw its weight around in a brash and unseemly manner."
- Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country
- The Evil God of Ugly Travellers. I don't get the fascination
with this guy. He's a curmudgeon. OK, OK...so's Bryson, but Bryson's
as willing to laugh at his own buffoonery as anyone else's. I
could say more, but Momma taught me better. Still, I'm not going
to provide a link to him, so there!
Years on 2 Wheels: 77 Countries, 250,000 Miles,
Helge Pedersen, Dana Payne Ed., (Elfin
Cove Press, 1998)
- A big beefy hardcover exquisitely photographed with stories
equal to the irresistably bold, beautiful images.
"If there is one thing I can say about Helge from the little
time we have spent talking is that he is honest. His photography
in this book is honest. His love of people from all over the world
is honest, and his text in "10 Years on 2 Wheels" is sincere.
He left home looking to see the world, not conquer it. For anyone
who has experienced, or has dreamt of experiencing frosty mornings
in places far away with nothing but a tent, campstove and innocent
anticipation of the road ahead, you need this book. It is about
freedom, seeing the world as a citizen of the world, not as a
spectator. Freedom from schedules and ownership, just you and
your bike and the goodwill of those you meet on your travels."
- Noel Camron Hastings
Travels: Four Years Around the World on a Triumph,
Ted Simon, (Jupitalia Productions, 1996)
- Between this book, and Helge Pedersen's above, I'm getting the
idea that perhaps the next journey should be by motorcycle. And
perhaps someday I'll be fortunate enough to put "300,000
copies sold!" on the cover of Movement: Seeking Perfect
"A compelling narrative that moves, sometimes at breakneck speed,
over some of the world's most beautiful terrain...packed with
fascinating detail, splendid characterisations and hair-raising
adventures." - Boston Globe
to Latitude: Journeys Along the Arctic’s Edge,
Jill A. Fredston (North Point Press,
- Rowing began as a yearly newsletter to family and friends,
similar to how this Nomadic Spirit has become Movement. It
is praised equally for soulful self-reflection, wilderness exploration
and its lyrical writing.
"As Fredston writes, these trips are 'neither a vacation
nor an escape, they are a way of life.' Rowing to Latitude is
a lyrical, vivid celebration of her northern journeys and the
insights they inspired. It is a passionate testimonial to the
extraordinary grace and fragility of wild places, the power of
companionship, the harsh but liberating reality of risk, the lure
of discovery, and the challenges and joys of living an unconventional
life." - From the book cover.
to Xian and Other Excursions
Michael Buckley, (Crazyhorse Press, 1988)
- The first book I read while planning my 1998 cross-China cycling
tour. A true inspiration, both as a traveller and writer. Unfortunately
out-of-print, but do yourself a favour and pickup a used copy.
In fact, I loaned my copy out
"Travel cuts across barriers of time and space. It gives
you a special sense of being wide awake-everything is new and
different and magical, and there's so much to be discovered, so
much to learn. Real travel means encountering people whose way
of life is very different from your own and learning from them."
- Michael Buckley
Cowboy: Tales From the Road Less Pedalled,
Joe Kurmaskie, (Three Rivers Press; 2002)
- Of all transportation modes, cycling offers the best trade-off
between intimate travel experience and the ability to cover distances.
The only way to get closer to a country and its people is on foot.
Kurmaskie adeptly translates this intimacy to the page in a series
of 40 essays.
"Kurmaskie drifted around the country (and the world), meeting
up with interesting and eccentric people, bunking wherever he
found a dry patch of ground, eating whatever he could carry or
scrounge. Like the travel books of Bill Bryson, Kurmaskie's collection
of essays focuses on the unexpected and the little known. Travelogues
are a dime a dozen, but the ones that find something fresh and
unusual to talk about are fairly rare. Here readers will meet
Elvis impersonators and other eccentrics; live through a goose
attack mounted with military precision; and see the countryside
the way they've never imagined it. A thoroughly delightful excursion"
Notes from the Field,
Nora Gallagher Ed., Yvon Chouinard--Introduction,
(Chronicle Books, 1999)
- Filled with breath-taking photography (culled from years of
Patagonia catalogues) and short essays and travel stories, set
typically in the extreme outdoors, by a variety of authors and
photographers, including Paul Theroux, Thomas McGuane, Tom Brokaw,
Gretel Ehrlick, and Rick Ridgeway.
"I've always chosen my climbing partners carefully. I learned
that someone's value to an expedition could largely be determined
by their storytelling skills." - Yvon Chouinard
Best American Travel Writing 2004 Pico Iyer Ed.
Best American Travel Writing 2003 Ian Frazier Ed.
Best American Travel Writing 2002 Frances Mayes Ed.
Best American Travel Writing 2001 Paul Theroux Ed.
Best American Travel Writing 2000 Bill Bryson Ed.
Jason Wilson (Series Editor), (Houghton Mifflin Co.,
2000 - 2004)
- The short story is among my favourite forms. It allows the author
to get in and out quick, and with maximum impact. When an anthology
includes the likes of Tim Cahill, Dave Eggers or Pico Iyer, you're
going to laugh, cry and shake your head in disbelief with the
best of them. And series editor Jason Wilson knows how to pick
"Having a travel writer report on particular things, small
things, the specific ways in which people act and interact, is
perhaps our best way of getting beyond the clichés that we tell
each other about different places and cultures, and about ourselves."
- Jason Wilson
James & Sean O'Reilly, publishers.
- Travelers' Tales Incorporated is a travel-writing institution.
The link above lists over 70 titles published by the company,
nearly all of which are anthologies. The authors include fresh
new faces along with notables such as: Paul Theroux, Jill Kerr
Conway, Tim Cahill, Bruce Chatwin and numerous others. Some sample
Of Holy Places & Sacred Sites,
Colin Wilson (DK Publishing, 1996)
- I must admit, it was surprising to discover how many of these
sacred sites I'd encountered on my own limited travels. Generally,
if I get within 100 clicks of one my traveller's radar resets
"At first glance, this book is very similar to The Atlas
of Sacred Places, though...this new one treats 100 sites around
the world, ranging from Ur to Machu Picchu. The one-half-to two-page
entries are beautifully illustrated with color photographs. The
last quarter of this volume, however, makes it more than just
another pretty coffee-table book. A gazetteer plots the location
of more than 1,000 sites on 20 color maps. A list keyed to the
maps notes the founding date of the site, the country where it
is located, and a brief note as to its importance." - Booklist
Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred,
Phil Cousineau, Huston Smith (Conari
- A gracefully illustrated guide to making travel a spiritual
journey. Pilgrimage is structured as a Pilgrimage with
chapters beginning with The Longing and The Call
and proceeding through Arrival and Bringing Back
"Cousineau shares details of his inspirational vision of
travel, which is that every trip should be thought of as a pilgrimage,
or 'soulful travel.' The author insists it is possible to 'transform
even the most ordinary trip into a sacred journey'; and by 'sacred,'
he means a personal value or ideal that is held close to one's
heart and mind and thus elevates the consciousness." - Booklist
Way of the Wanderer: Discover Your True Self Through Travel,
David Yeadon, (Travelers' Tales Inc,
- Sitting at the top of my wish list, with chapter titles such
as, "An Aboriginal Dreamtime Oddyssey," "White Water Wisdom-The
River Within," and "Tokyo-A Subway Named Desire,"
how could I resist? And the "line drawings" mentioned
below include quiet, evocative water-colours.
"'To know the world still remains a thing of mystery, silence
and secrets this I find one of the greatest joys of all.' Yeadon
ceaselessly looks for the unknown, less-traveled places and the
extraordinary people he encounters along the way, like the 'hermit'
home he visits on an island off the coast of Maine. His explorations
take him all over the world, but he finds the undiscovered even
in his native England. His extraordinary line drawings heighten
the effect of his lyrical, meditative essays. A treat for the
armchair traveler..." - Library Journal