The Oxford Book of Travel Stories

Patricia Craig, Author, Patricia Craig, Editor
Patricia Craig, Author, Patricia Craig, Editor Oxford University Press, USA $35 (464p) ISBN 978-0-19-214253-5
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-19-288031-4
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-19-284088-2
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Broad in scope, editor Craig's well-written and informative introduction details the convergence, somewhere ""around the mid-nineteenth century,"" of the short story and tourism, and the effect of this union on the literary form. Emphasizing the difference between travel stories and travel writing, she defines travel stories as self-contained works that feature the actual mode of traveling, stories that also can be expanded to include ""the mood of a particular era."" Set in Victorian times, the first stories in the compilation, by such authors as Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Trollope, are charming, if occasionally quaint. Edith Wharton's tale of a horrible train journey taken with a corpse is balanced, a few stories later, by Evelyn Waugh's clever and amusing epistolary account of a wealthy fluffhead's European cruise. Following Waugh comes Ring Lardner's narrative of two well-traveled strangers and their efforts at one-upmanship. Nonfiction narratives are contributed by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and by Jack Kerouac, while Rebecca West offers a spy story. Readers might be wickedly surprised to find Flannery O'Connor's ""A Good Man Is Hard to Find"" counted as a travel story. Other contributors include John Cheever, V.S. Pritchett, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Raymond Carver, Penelope Lively, Alice Adams, Elizabeth Hardwick, Paul Theroux, Anita Desai and the daringly inventive Beryl Bainbridge. Among the few entries by lesser-known writers, Jane Gardams's story of a day trip by bus to mainland China and a mysterious and supernatural effort by the brilliant Rachel Ingalls stand out. Using modes of conveyance ranging from modern-day jets and Greyhound buses to human feet and muleback, this diverse party of literary wanderings offers more than enough diversion for readers with time to kill in airports, train stations and ferry terminals.(Sept.)
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