Expatriate Australian writer-photographer Perrottet seeks to escape his East Village apartment in Manhattan by paying periodic visits to the world's last frontiers. Perrottet, a contributing editor to Islands and frequent contributor to Esquire, Outside, et al., roams the globe with a $15 Chinese-made plastic camera, looking for the few out-of-the-way and obscure places not already invaded by McDonalds, television, and other writers similarly inclined. Actually, in this amusing volume, he is actively seeking out places with a literary connection to Defoe, Faulkner, Dostoevsky, and Maugham, among others. With that slender thread to connect the pieces, he visits the Juan Fernandez Islands, where Alexander Selkirk, real-life model for Robinson Crusoe, was marooned; Faulkner's home in Oxford, Miss.; Hemingway's haunts in an increasingly impoverished Havana; and Bruce Chatwin's most famous destination, Tierra del Fuego. Perrottet alternates his 11 voyages with equally jaundiced tales set in the squalor of New York City, where he lives with his girlfriend in a veritable state of siege owing to his noisy, crazy neighbors. Thus, the book wanders amiably from one tropical-paradise hellhole (or one sub-Arctic hellhole) to another, returning regularly to the worst hellhole of all, Manhattan. At first glance, one fears that this will be just one more ""around the world in a lousy mood,"" dyspeptic travel book. But Perrottet is honest enough in his self-appraisal (and his recounting of endless bibulousness) to take the edge off what might otherwise be a nasty reading experience. Still, one wishes the photo reproductions were bigger and the individual pieces longer and more detailed. Not on a par with Chatwin or Raban, but a pleasant read for the armchair adventurer.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Flamingo/HarperCollins Australia--dist. by Consortium