Travelers both timid and daring will find plenty of useful advice in this perceptive and provocative volume.

REDISCOVERING TRAVEL

A GUIDE FOR THE GLOBALLY CURIOUS

The former “Frugal Traveler” columnist for the New York Times encourages anxious tourists toward more adventurous travel in this helpful, humorous, and opinionated guide.

Using anecdotes from his plentiful experience to illustrate his points, but without indulging in personal history for its own sake, Kugel makes the case that low-budget, minimally planned travel can be more rewarding than a journey insulated from risk and serendipity. As he writes, “people who inhabit the still-plentiful tourist-free swaths of the planet tend to be not only just nicer, but also more curious.” The author isn't afraid to complain about what he sees as problems in the tourist industry, such as the tendency of travel writers to be funded by the places about which they are writing, resulting in unnaturally positive reviews, and the use of points programs to choose a place to stay. He advocates for gradually upping one's tolerance for adventure. “Talk to three strangers a day,” he writes. “Smile and ask a question.” Or try the “microadventure” of “ordering a menu item you've never heard of. If you hate it, you still have a story to tell.” Though Kugel offers a few pieces of advice from female travelers, he writes primarily of his experience as a straight white American male. While recognizing the value of travel apps, he recommends that travelers use them sparingly. Instead of using TripAdvisor to find a predictably pleasant restaurant, for example, he recommends wandering around looking into windows or asking a stranger for advice. Appendices get down to the nitty-gritty of preparing for a trip, including detailed recommendations for assessing and reducing risk at every stage of travel, from “preliminary thinking” (“realize you're not perfectly safe back home, either”) to “prior to departure” (“consider evacuation insurance”) to “during the trip” (“Dare to ask taxi drivers to drive more slowly”).

Travelers both timid and daring will find plenty of useful advice in this perceptive and provocative volume.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-87140-850-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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