Notable for its spirited prose and insightful exploration of the less-romantic side of travel writing. Kohnstamm is one to...

DO TRAVEL WRITERS GO TO HELL?

A SWASHBUCKLING TALE OF HIGH ADVENTURES, QUESTIONABLE ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL HEDONISM

The colorful adventures of a budding travel writer in Brazil.

After pursuing an advanced degree in Latin American studies, Kohnstamm reluctantly took a position as a researcher at a large Wall Street firm. The restless author quickly tired of the corporate drudgery and, after some hesitation, accepted an assignment to update Lonely Planet’s guidebook on Brazil. The resulting book (a “chronicle [of] events that took me from bourgeoisie working stiff with a repressed travel habit to a full-time mercenary travel hack, with all the good, bad, and surreal shit that it entails”) is a wonderfully picaresque journey through the vibrant Brazilian landscape. Following a marathon bender through the streets of Manhattan with his friend, “the Doctor” (one of the book’s many parallels to the work of Hunter S. Thompson), Kohnstamm departed for Rio de Janeiro with little more than his laptop and a few changes of clothes. He awoke the first morning in bed with Inga, a Lufthansa stewardess who proved to be one of many female companions bedded by Kohnstamm, who comes off here as quite the Casanova. Amidst the hard partying and endless nights, however, the author began to realize the difficulty of gathering adequate information about the countless locales he must visit. With his paltry funds dwindling, he reached out to previous Lonely Planet scribes, most of whom were far from reassuring: “Remember that if you are in your room at night writing, you aren’t doing enough bar research.” Along the way he befriended numerous memorable characters: Nils, a baggage handler from Copenhagen and singer for a grunge band, Synthetic Jesus; Inara, a Brazilian beauty who shares an apartment with the author for a couple of weeks (and who turns out to be a prostitute of sorts); Otto, formerly of the Israeli Defense Force; Mr. Yay, so named for his prodigious coke habit; and Bobby, from whom the author buys Ecstasy tablets in an effort to make some quick cash. Readers will relish the countless stories of the author’s misadventures, but Kohnstamm brings more than just anecdotes: He offers a solid understanding of the mechanics of the travel-writing industry and a unique ability to illuminate that world to readers.

Notable for its spirited prose and insightful exploration of the less-romantic side of travel writing. Kohnstamm is one to watch.

Pub Date: April 22, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-307-39465-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Three Rivers/Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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