The latest installment of the travel-writing series upholds the tradition of world-expanding excellence.
Series editor Jason Wilson begins this collection with a tale of overcoming adversity. After years, he found volume editor Gilbert’s (Committed: A Love Story, 2010, etc.) schedule finally jibed with his, and thus, the 2013 collection was born. This is not a book full of traditional travel stories. Instead, under Gilbert's stewardship, the articles are tidbits from another place, time or culture, and one from the mind of a man who contemplated travel but never got around to it. Readers won’t find any pieces to help them plan a trip, but they will be inspired to travel somewhere. “Some of these stories find their authors flinging themselves into mad acts of danger and some do not,” writes Gilbert, “but every piece contains awe in strong enough doses to render the reader enchanted, delighted, compelled, or forever unsettled.” The stories range from typical subjects with atypical treatments—e.g., Kevin Chroust’s recounting of running with the bulls in which he examines not the thrill of the terror, but the sheer stupidity of it—to the completely unexpected—e.g., Sarah A. Topol’s “Tea and Kidnapping,” in which an event that should be terrifying is surprisingly giggle-inducing. “Travel should be just as much about light delights as about dark daring,” writes Gilbert, and both are represented here, well-balanced. So Grant Stoddard’s article about making up his own Manhattan tours and David Sedaris’ piece about his dentist in Paris slide into the collection seamlessly while offering a needed comedic break. Other contributors include Ian Frazier, John Jeremiah Sullivan and Christopher de Bellaigue.
The wonder continues in the fact that, regardless of subject, each story takes its place in the collection proudly and deservedly.