cover image To Belem & Back: Backroads Brazil With My Black Lab

To Belem & Back: Backroads Brazil With My Black Lab

Ben Batchelder. Earthdog (, $15.99 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-0-99133722-4

Batchelder (Borderlands USA), an American who lives for part of the year in Brazil, provides an insightful and poignant account of his “long, circuitous roadtrip” from his home in southern Brazil to Belem in the north, accompanied by his loyal Labrador retriever, Atlas. As the author notes, “travel is often an excuse to accomplish something else,” and his journey had multiple motives. In the wake of a failed marriage to a Brazilian native, “home continues to be the last place” where he feels welcome, and he is plagued by doubts as to whether he should continue to live in Brazil. Batchelder tells himself that such a journey, even on a route notorious for its dangers, could also provide him with a deeper understanding of the country’s paradoxes. As in the very best travelogues, the author seamlessly combines the personal, the political, and the cultural. He also adds the philosophical, via thought-provoking reflections on topics such as whether countries always get the governments they deserve, and the nature of his responsibility for the “haphazard” journey that is his own life. (BookLife)