Pleasant narrative adventures for the armchair traveler.




A Lonely Planet editor’s compendium of 30 travel essays by an eclectic group of contemporary fiction writers.

Following up on the success of Better than Fiction (2012), George began collecting the pieces that comprise this volume with the intent to present another “moving microcosm of our modern world.” Though not all the essays are equally strong, George's efforts have produced a book that is nevertheless quite engaging. This latest volume offers work by luminaries like Jane Smiley and Dave Eggers, as well as work by newer talents like Porochista Khakpour. The pieces are set all over the world and include destinations as near as Mississippi and Idaho and as far away as Iceland, India, and Saudi Arabia. A few of the stories, such as Karen Joy Fowler’s “An Italian Education” and Khakpour’s “My Mississippi,” explore the ways travel can shape the development of youthful emotional, aesthetic, and/or sexual sensibilities and bring personal identity into sharper focus. Some, such as Eggers’ “The Road to Riyadh” and Mandi Sayer’s “Sleepless in Samoa,” depict the misunderstandings and sometimes-comic misadventures adult travelers often experience when venturing into lands far different from their own. As Lydia Millet observes in “Rocky Point,” “travel has a way of turning us into children” who have the choice to consciously grow beyond their vulnerabilities, prejudices, and misconceptions about others. Indeed, the trope of travel as the great teacher is played out in many other entries, such as Shirley Streshinsky’s “Travels with Suna.” The author reflects on her 30-year cross-continental interactions with an Indian woman who showed her the true meaning of friendship. As diverse as these essays are, one common thread—apart from the fact that they are all by fiction writers—unites them: beyond particulars of time and place, life is the greatest journey of all. Other contributors include Alexander McCall Smith, Francine Prose, Lily King, and DBC Pierre.

Pleasant narrative adventures for the armchair traveler.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-74360-749-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Lonely Planet

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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